Spirit offers vouchers, refunds after delay

Unruly passenger prompts flight diversion

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Spirit Airlines is offering compensation to passengers of a flight that arrived in South Florida nearly a full day after leaving Los Angeles.

On Monday afternoon, Spirit announced it would not only refund the ticket cost and baggage fees to the passengers of Saturday night's Flight 310 from Los Angeles International Airport to Fort Lauderdale, which stopped in Houston because of an unruly passenger, but it would also offer about $100 in vouchers for another flight.

The cries of frustration from the passengers left Spirit in damage control. Fed up and frustrated, the group was caught on cellphone cameras turning on crew members.

"I will call the media," said one passenger on the cellphone video.

Passengers from the flight arrived in South Florida on Sunday evening after their flight left LAS at 10 p.m. PST Saturday. The flight was diverted to Houston after an 86-year-old man started swinging his arms at passengers walking past his seat.

Nicki Pierson and her son were on the flight, which took 19 hours to get from LA to Fort Lauderdale.

"Everyone was just tired. Everyone was cranky. Everyone was just miserable," she said. "They ended up giving us free pretzels and some tap water, I guess, in little cups or whatever. That was it. It was pretty bad. It was hot. It was dark. No one knew what was going on."

The scene at the airport got worse when Spirit announced passengers would be shuttled five hours to Dallas to catch another flight. Spirit Airlines said time constraints with the crew prevented them from allowing the original flight to take off from Houston.

That did not end up happening, however, as the airline brought in another plane and another crew to fly the passengers to Florida.

Once they arrived in South Florida, the passengers' anger turned to uncertainty. Some passengers missed their connecting flights, while others saw their cruises set sail without them.

The carrier is going to refund ticket and baggage costs, but not the cruises. Anyone who accepts a refund gives up the right to sue the airline, however.

The family of 15 who missed their cruise said they are remaining in South Florida to try to make the most of what is left of their vacation.

"I went right to the counter and I said, 'Listen, I want a refund. What are you going to do about this?'" Pierson said.

The man was taken into custody but was later released, and no charges were filed. Houston police said the man, who is partially blind and speaks only French, told them he got scared while on the flight, and that was why he started swinging his arms.

Authorities called the man's family, and his son was set to go to Houston to accompany him to Fort Lauderdale.

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