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Spirit Airlines: Riots Break Out As Agents Told To Flee For Safety

Date: August 2, 2021

By Matthew Klint, Live And Let's Fly

We’ve covered our fair share of fights onboard Spirit Airlines, but today is no laughing matter: Spirit Airlines is experiencing a total meltdown that has led to extraordinary measures across the network. Unconfirmed reports of riots and bedlam have been reported in both Puerto Rico and Florida. As the day progresses, the situation is getting worse.

Spirit Airlines Collapses – Operational Meltdown Leads To Hundreds Of Delays + Cancellations

As of 5:00pm ET, Spirit Airlines has canceled 277 flights today, representing 36% of its schedule according to FlightAware data. 159 flights have been delayed, representing 20% of its schedule.

Weather alone is not to blame for the delay, although it is the primary catalyst. Staffing issues and a schedule that likely far too ambitious are also to blame.

But Spirit Airlines, as a so-called “ultra-low-cost-carrier” does not have interline agreement with other airlines. When delays and cancellations happen, passengers are hung out to dry…it is the risk you take when you book with a carrier like Spirit Airlines.

A tweet suggests the situation in San Juan, Puerto Rico is spiraling out of control, with passengers rioting, flights ordered to divert, crew members told to change out of uniform, and ground staff huddling behind locked doors.

Riots break out in SJU. [Passengers] are breaking computers, attempting to break the jet bridge door, and are assaulting gate agents. 25 crew members are huddled in a ramp break room waiting for SWAT to escort them away. Crews are urged to change clothes to avoid detection. Tempers are flaring at [Orlando] and [Fort Lauderdale] as well.

Every Airline has been dealing with severe IROPs. This is not OK. Its more than stress level 10. I never thought I would see “urged to change out of uniform” I understand travelling is stressful but this is not okay. #Bekind
Stay safe Flight FAM. pic.twitter.com/Cp8IV8VzQq

— Matt (@Mattrix8733) August 2, 2021

Perhaps you can imagine the situation. Flight cancellations and delays means passengers may be stranded for days. Gate agents have no answer. Passengers become agitated. Agents disappear. Passengers become more agitated.

I’m sorry to say that the reported behavior does not surprise me. We’ve seen such poor behavior at Spirit Airlines ticket counters and onboard over the last year that these reports seem more than plausible. 

A Spirit Airlines spokesperson confirms both weather and “operational” challenges have impacted flights today:

“We’re working around the clock to get back on track in the wake of some travel disruptions over the weekend due to a series of weather and operational challenges.

“We needed to make proactive cancellations to some flights across the network, but the majority of flights are still scheduled as planned.”

A narrow majority at that…


If you are flying Spirit Airlines today, I wish you all the best. Bring a back-up battery pack and a good book, because you are more likely than not to encounter a delay or cancellation. Check out your flight status before heading to the airport and if you do encounter a gate agent, understand they are under tremendous pressure and therefore you have a unique opportunity to be kind and empathetic.

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