Spirit Airlines customers grounded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int'l Airport

Airline blames delays on voluntary engine inspections

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Hundreds of travelers waited for their delayed Spirit Airlines flights for hours at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on Thursday.

Travelers said representatives at the customer service counter told them the Federal Aviation Administration had deemed the planes unsafe for flight.

"I think it sucks," said Alex Valido. "I'm not using Spirit no more."

CNN obtained a statement from the airline that says:

"Following the engine failure on one of our aircraft last week, and after reviewing routine maintenance procedures, we are completing a proactive and voluntary check on our aircraft engines overnight as a precautionary measure.

These checks take approximately 45 minutes per aircraft.

Some flights are experiencing significant delays as we complete the checks.  Each aircraft is being returned to service as soon as the check is completed.

We apologize for these delays. We are working diligently to get our customers where they need to go as quickly as possible.  We expect all checks to be completed this morning.

As always, the safety of our customers is our number one priority."

Link: Flight tracker

Broward Sheriff's Office deputies were called out to the airport to deal with unruly passengers.

"Tempers are getting heated up like the temperature, because the air conditioning seems to be as broken as their planes," said Teri Moran, whose flight to Dallas was delayed.

The airport's departure board showed flights to New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando and Tampa were delayed.

"Spirit Airlines has just delayed an 8:40 PM departure to 12:35 AM blaming an FAA FLASH INSPECTION," Doug Stewart tweeted.

About an hour later, Stewart's frustration had boiled.

"Can I get my luggage back and sue them for pain and suffering?" he tweeted.

Early Thursday morning, airline representatives were unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, dozens of travelers slept at the airport.

Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier headquartered in Miramar, Fla.

Earlier this month, travelers on flight 165 from Dallas to Atlanta heard an explosion and saw fire. The pilot landed the plane safely and no one was hurt. Federal investigators later said it was an "uncontained" engine failure.

"This will be the next bankrupt airline if they keep this up," said Brenda Brodimas, whose flight to Detroit was delayed.

"You should at least give the people that's paying a clear answer," added Cathie Davis, who was also flying to Detroit. "I'm not using Spirit no more."

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