never fly spirit air...

June 02, 2003



…unless you want to once and for all convince yourself that cutting your arm off with a dull knife isn’t the worst possible experience a human can endure. laugh if you want, but i’m seriously not joking. from a pissed-at-the-world checkin lady to an alkie mom traveling alone with her two kids, i’ve seen it all in just 2 flights on spirit. and i have somehow lived to tell about it.

last saturday (may 24, 2003) kelly and i flew spirit airlines from chicago to orlando, in preparation for our bahamas cruise leaving from port canaveral. seemed like a great idea @ the time: guaranteed seats for $200 RT… but as soon as we hit terminal 3 at o’hare, we knew something was amiss. while we were checking our bags (which took about 5 hours, considering kelly had an extra for shoes, duh) the couple in front of us was trying to figure out what to do with their cat. you see, the carrier they’d bought was supposedly “certified” to fit under the seat, but the spirit checkin lady told them it was too big. “what do you mean? i bought a certified one, so shouldn’t it fit?” asked the man. “nope, it won’t fit,” answered the spirit chick. “can you measure it?” “no, i can tell by looking at it that it won’t fit.” now, hold up, wait a minute. take 5 seconds, measure it, and make this guy’s day. she wouldn’t have any of that, though.

anyway, the couple decided to call a friend to pick up the cat. “we found someone who can pick it up in 30 minutes, but our flight is in 45 min. can someone watch the cat until our friend can get here?” now this seems like a reasonable question, especially in the quest to determine poor fluffy’s fate. “are you crazy?!?!?!?! we can’t take that kind of responsibility!” wait, since when do we ask customers if they are crazy? guess i missed that day of training, hmmm…

meanwhile our checkin lady ripped our boarding passes (which i printed myself from the web, secure, secure) in half and said “oops. i wasn’t supposed to do that.” ok, am i supposed to care? she continued with “if they ask at security, can you tell them you did it? they’ll be less upset than if they knew i tore them…” something tells me that i answered no, and that something is right. after we checked our bags we made it to security, where they in fact did ask me what happened to the boarding passes and i in fact told the truth. what, like i was gonna lie and maybe get in trouble to protect some stupid checkin agent? come on, you know me better than that! :)

have you ever seen a drunk person on a plane? of course. but have you ever sat across the aisle from a drunk mother of two (approx 5 and 8 years old, respectively)? as we settled in for our return flight to chicago, we noticed the mom on the other side of the aisle talking pretty loudly to the woman in front of her. no biggie, since they were both moms, chatting about mom stuff, etc. but she just kept talking. and talking. and drinking her own diet coke, and feeding her kids sandwiches and chips, and talking, and drinking, and drinking… turns out she had a stash of rum (in a squeeze water bottle, no less) to go with her diet coke! as we were about to push back it was pretty obvious she was wasted…

this obvious mom-of-the-year award recipient started to tell the woman in front of her just how scared she was of flying: “you know the safety records of each of the airlines? scary stuff.” meanwhile, she was breaking about a dozen of the simplest rules of flying including “don’t talk on your cell phone,” “don’t listen to your cd player during takeoff,” and “make sure your carry-on fits under the seat in front of you.” for someone so concerned with safety, it was a sight to behold. luckily the flight attendant looked in her general direction, and saw the headphones. “ma’am, please turn your cd player off now before takeoff,” she asked. the woman, in a moment of extreme cool-headedness, replied “it’s not on! i’m just trying to figure out how to make it work. it’s new… it’s not on… really! i’m not listening to it.” after a little arguing, the headphones came off, the cell phone got powered down, and the bag got shoved under the seat. the homemade drinks, though, kept right on coming!

as she got more and more obliterated, her ability to keep the liquid in the cup disappeared quickly. a couple of small spills, while funny to see, started to became old news. there was, luckily for us, one big oops: as she stood up to talk to someone she managed to knee her tray table about 4 inches into the air and wound up spilling her drink into the aisle. what’s more, she didn’t even notice some of it dripping onto her leg. meanwhile, i’m sitting across the aisle, so of course i get a little of her cap’n and diet on my jeans. that’s when things really started to get interesting…

the next time the lady pulled out her rum, kelly rang the flight attendant call button (ok, actually i did it, since i lost 2-out-of-3 at rock/paper/scissors)… the plan worked: the flight attendant caught wind of what was going on and confronted the mom: “do you have alcohol in your bag there?” “alcohol? no, of course not!” came the reply… but everyone knew she did, and after being threatened with the confiscation of her stash, the mom relented and put the bottle in her bag. but just as we thought the drunkfest was over, the mom had a stroke of genius: “ok, can i order a drink?!?!” excuse me, are you kidding? this lady does not need another… but, whether part of a master plan to avoid any confrontation or instead just an overwhelming desire to ruin my life, the flight attendant decided that it was cool to sell her more booze. and that’s when we crossed the point-of-no-return.

it’s important not to forget that the mom was with her two young kids. she’d been “taking care” of them pretty well, as long as that means feeding them whenever they started to act up, and telling them to “shut up” when they told her she was being loud… the little girl wanted something to drink, so out of the cooler came a caprisun juice box. you know, the ones that can be difficult to open up when you’re sober? well, it turns out the mom didn’t have the easiest time getting the little straw through the pouch and decided to just pour it into a cup… as she started to squeeze the pouch, the caprisun sprung a leak, and started to squirt in every direction. i at first didn’t believe what i was seeing, and just looked on in amazement.

the next few moments are a blur, and i recognize now that i must have been in shock at the time. it felt like my leg was getting wet, but at the same time it didn’t really feel like my leg. the juice was spraying all over, literally, getting the woman in front of me, the aisle, my bag, and my leg soaked… but i still was mute, just dumbfounded that this was actually happening.

kelly, after somehow managing not to pick a fight all flight, just couldn’t hold it any more. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?! you’re getting everyone all wet!!!!” (i slowly looked back and forth between them, and noticed that my leg was still being sprayed with juice.) “well, it’s not on purpose!” the mom charged back… kelly didn’t give up: “you already got andrew’s leg before with your coke, now you’re doing it again!” and that’s when i swore i’d be caught in the middle of a full-on brawl. not realizing exactly what she was getting into, the mom yelled: “oh, like you’ve never made a mistake!!!!!” ahem. did you see the eyes dilate in preparation for an attack? yep. “sure i have! but i’ve never gotten drunk on a plane and sprayed caprisun all over the place. maybe you should just stop drinking.” mom was speechless. she apologized to me, i tossed a “whatever” her way, and she proceeded to give her daughter a lecture on how important it was to accept someone’s apology and forgive them. “see, some people on this plane can’t forgive other people for their mistakes.” insane. honestly insane. and, of course, a wonderful giver of advice to children.

but wait, there’s more. genius over there now pulls out her cell phone (mid-flight by now) and tries to make a call. even though she didn’t have a signal, she kept trying. another quick whap of the call button got the flight attendant over, and after kelly ordered yet another mountain dew, the mom got busted again. “you need to turn that phone off now!” some arguing ensued about how she “wasn’t talking on it” but still the phone got put away. for the rest of the flight, she kept mumbling about how the phone was off and she needed another drink… unbelievable…

whew. what a rant. apologies for this being so long, but there was just so much insanity i had to share. and thus, the moral of this little story is that i’m not planning on flying spirit in the near future unless i’m held at gunpoint… how bout you? :)