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Cancelations by two airlines cause long lines of frustrated customers at Cleveland airport

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Posted at 10:46 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:47:41-04

CLEVELAND — Long lines of frustrated passengers formed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after Spirit Airlines canceled several flights to Florida Tuesday.

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Long lines form at the Spirit counter at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Tuesday, August 3.

Spirit Airlines canceled four flights, two to Ft. Myers, one to Tampa and one to Ft. Lauderdale. Of the other two flights listed, one had departed and another one was listed as "on time," according to the flight tracker.

A Spirit passenger in line Tuesday told News 5 photojournalist Dave Hatala that he was supposed to head to Ft. Lauderdale to connect to another flight.

He and his wife, who drove up from Akron, said they were told the next flight out is Friday—the day the couple was planning on coming home.

When they received the news of their canceled flight, their ride to the airport had already left and he said it all could have been avoided with better communication from the airline.

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Long lines form at the Spirit counter at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Tuesday, August 3.

Tuesday’s cancelations were followed by several days of repeated cancelations from Spirit at airports across the country, including Florida and Detroit.

On Monday, Derek Miller and his girlfriend were supposed to be on a flight from Detroit to Tampa. He said they waited in line four hours and finally decided to drive to Cleveland to get on a flight with another carrier headed to Clearwater, Florida.

He said the line at the Spirit desk at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was nothing compared to Detroit.

A Spirit spokesperson said the operational issues are a mixture of challenges that the entire industry is facing during the busy travel season as airlines begin to scale their operations again.

According to FlightAware, Spirit had canceled 283 flights and delayed 62 flights as of Tuesday.

But on Tuesday it wasn't just Spirit grounding flights, American Airlines cancelled more than 275 flights across the country.

TSA numbers show the number of travelers in almost back to pre-pandemic numbers and experts said that is adding to the problem.

"Nobody expected the American airline passenger to return to the kind of numbers they have in the past few months. And that hasn't happened anywhere else around the world," said Andrew Thomas, an associate professor of international business at the University of Akron and editor in chief of the Journal of Transportation Security.

Thomas believes the travel troubles will be resolved but it may take some time.

American said in a statement on Tuesday:

“A prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort-Worth on Sunday night into Monday morning brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail to our largest hub. The nine-hour weather event resulted in flight delays, cancellations and nearly 100 diversions. Our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers.”

A spokesperson for Spirit Airlines released an updated statement Tuesday regarding the situation:

We're working around the clock to mitigate the travel disruptions caused by overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages in some areas of the operation. In responding to these challenges, Spirit has implemented some proactive cancellations again today to reset our operations. Most of our flights currently remain scheduled as planned.

We understand how frustrating it is for our Guests when plans change unexpectedly. We're working to provide refunds for cancellations and, when possible, to reaccommodate our Guests.

We have processed proactive cancellations early to give our Guests as much notice as possible, and we ask that they watch for notifications and check their flight status before heading to the airport. These targeted changes are mainly focused in markets where travelers have multiple options for alternative flights.

As a team, we strive every day to get our Guests where they need to go on time. We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused.

RELATED: Spirit Airlines says it's working 'around the clock' to mitigate travel disruptions

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