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Spirit Airlines is known for nickel-and-diming its passengers, and its latest update is no exception. America’s most notorious budget airline is introducing a convenient new feature — but at a price. $25, to be exact.
The Washington Post reports that starting Sept. 1, you’ll be able to text the airline via WhatsApp and ask all of your most pressing questions about flight reservations, travel modifications and other items in both English and Spanish. Similar to a regular phone call, you’ll first be connected to a chatbot to help with any basic questions you might have. Then a Spirit agent will take over, reports CNBC. From there, the agent will send you an external link via the app to complete your reservation. You’ll have to be in the United States, the Caribbean or Latin America to take advantage of the service.
Reactions to the news on social media so far have been pretty negative. For many people, it reinforces their disdain of the airline due to the lack of passenger-friendly customer service practices.
While this may sound outrageous to some, it’s actually no different than what the airline charges over the phone. Instead, you just have the convenience of not having to speak to another person — and you also may avoid long hold times on the phone while your request is processed by chat. And, for comparison’s sake, other airlines — including United and American — also charge non-elite customers anywhere from $25 to $35 to book reservations over the phone.
Meanwhile, Spirit sees the development as a way to “better connect with guests,” according to Bobby Schroeter, the airline’s vice president of sales and marketing. He continues: “We know WhatsApp is incredibly popular in the United States, but also in the more than two dozen destinations we serve in the Caribbean and Latin America. From travel updates to adding a bag to your reservation, this new messaging service allows Guests to communicate with us in English and Spanish and to opt in to WhatsApp messaging. It is all part of our goal to elevate and improve our Guest experience.”
While this could be a convenient development for some Spirit Airlines flyers, the airline has a long way to go in terms overall customer service. It ranked #9 out of 10 on our list of the Best and Worst Airlines in the US this year. It has the second-worst frequent-flyer program and room for improvement in the cabin comfort department. That said, you get what you pay for — so don’t expect any bells and whistles.
Featured image courtesy of Saul Martinez/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
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