Spirit Cancellations Lead to Chaos and Arrests in Terminal

May 9, 2017

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During the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen our fair share of passenger-related incidents while on a plane. But last night, fights erupted at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) between passengers, airline employees and law enforcement.

Chaos broke out late Monday night after the ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines canceled multiple flights from the airport, leaving travelers stranded. When some travelers in Terminal 4 became agitated because the lines were so long, they took their frustrations out on one another — and airline employees. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office was then called in to help settle things down.

However, it appears that the situation continued to escalate, with things becoming violent. The brawl was captured and posted on YouTube:

Gina Carter, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman told ABC News that there were no injuries reported and officers were able to get the situation under control. While Carter didn’t say if there were any arrests following the incident, witnesses told WSVN that they saw multiple people detained.

The Miramar, Florida-based Spirit Airlines blamed the flight cancellations and ensuing long lines on ongoing labor negotiations with its pilots. Since the incident, the company released a statement, reading:

“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport this evening. This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers, by canceling multiple flights across our network. These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members.”

In addition, Spirit said that it’s filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) for “unlawful job action by Spirit pilots.” Essentially, the carrier is claiming that its pilots are refusing to fly in an effort to influence the outcome for a new contract.

If you’re traveling with Spirit Airlines today or in the near future, it’ll be best to check the status of your flight before heading to the airport. As of this writing, Spirit Airlines has canceled 28 (5%) of its flights for today. In addition, it’s already delayed 19 (4%) of its flights, according to Flight Aware.

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There’s no doubt that the incident captured on video at FLL last night is an uncomfortable one. No traveler wants to be subject to that kind of atmosphere when at the airport. Despite some additional cancellations and delays today, the scene at the airport is much calmer this morning than it was last night.

Featured image courtesy of Robert Alexander via Getty Images.

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