Spirit Airlines: nation’s highest complaint rate and highest profit margin

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It may be no surprise that the U.S.-based airline that has drawn the most complaints per passenger over the last five years is Spirit Airlines.

After all, the Florida-based carrier is known for super-tight seating and dozens of fees, including charges for soft drinks and carry-on bags.

But the executives at the ultra-low-cost carrier are probably not sweating the study results because another report released last week said that Spirit also had the highest profit margin of any U.S. carrier in 2013.


“The Unfriendly Skies,” a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, found that Spirit had the highest complaint rate from 2009 to 2013. It showed that Spirit had 9.440 complaints per 100,000 passengers in 2013, up from 6.75 complaints per 100,000 fliers in 2009.

Spirit’s complaint rates were more than three times higher than the second-place airline each year, the report said.

But a report released last week by Airline Weekly gave Spirit reason to smile: Spirit had the highest profit margin (17%) of any North American airline, compared to 9% for Delta and 8% for both Southwest and American Airlines.

It’s clear that Spirit was not bothered by its complaint rate because the airline responded to the report with a one-day promotion, boasting that only 0.01% of its passengers filed complaints last year.

“That’s right, over 99.99% of our customers did not file a complaint with the Department of Transportation in 2013,” the airline said in its promotion statment.



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