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My Sister-In-Law’s Paranoia about Spirit Paid Off!

Some of you may remember my failed attempt to use Avios in order to join my in-laws on their trip to St. John. In retrospect, things worked out for the best because we really didn’t need the extra trip expense anyway. My in-laws enjoyed their vacation, though my mother-in-law was sick for few days. Speaking of, did you know that a doctor visits St. John island only on certain days of the week? And there is no local hospital. Something to think about if you are planning to take young kids or elderly parents.

Of course, St. John is a beautiful island, and one of my favorite places in the world to visit. My husband and I spent a day there while sailing on Eastern Caribbean cruise 16 years ago. We’ve been talking about going back ever since. And doesn’t my in-laws’ rental look like a dreamy spot for a relaxing vacation?

I can totally picture myself sipping red wine on the lounge chair, after taking a dip in the heated pool…

Can you tell that I’m a little sad that my family wasn’t able to join them? Anyway, the post isn’t about that. When we were booking flights, I tried to convince my sister-in-law to use Spirit miles. After all, they were flying during the time period eligible for 5,000 mile roundtrip pricing from Fort Lauderdale. What a deal!

Well, she didn’t feel the same way I did. She has heard plenty of horror stories about Spirit canceling  flights and stranding passengers. I seriously rolled my eyes at her when she said that. After all, how many people fly Spirit every day with no problems whatsoever? But it’s only the complainers (who are admittedly often justified in their wrath) that you hear from.

It didn’t make any difference, so I ended up burning Avios (15,000 miles roundtrip X 3  from Miami). Some battles are just not worth fighting. Well… Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you know where this is going.

Poop hits the fan in FLL airport

My in-laws ended up flying during the time when Spirit pilots decided to go on strike. Remember the scenes of fighting passengers in FLL airport? My in-laws would be there that day to witness the riot if I ended up booking tickets on Spirit. And they would be going nowhere for some time.  Instead, they were safely on their way to St. Thomas, courtesy of American Airlines.

My sister-in-law was totally vindicated and called me as soon as she could to ask me if I saw the craziness on the news. Yes  I saw it, I write in an industry (loosely) related to aviation. Just because  I don’t usually comment on this stuff in my blog, doesn’t mean I live in a parallel reality where nothing bad ever happens. And honestly, what’s the point of me telling readers about it while the incident is unfolding? If you are there, you already know  it. If you are planning on flying in a near future, you will be notified soon, I guarantee it.

I seriously had to eat my words, and my sister-in-law will never let me live this one down. And I guess I deserve it. The truth is, while chances of things like that happening on your trip are relatively low, they are not zero.

I’m never, ever flying Spirit!!!

So, what am I going to do about our upcoming Spirit flights to Newark in October, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. The trip is still on and I don’t plan to part with my precious Rapid Rewards points. I’m a logical person, and logic tells me that the chances of something like this happening during our three-day trip are fairly small. Hopefully, whatever  issues Spirit has with its pilots will be worked out by October. It would be a total PR nightmare, no, PR Armageddon to let this sort of thing unfold again during the same year.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan. Well, fortunately, we are not flying during a major holiday. Also, unlike Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas, Orlando-Newark route has plenty of competiton. There is United, of course, Southwest and Jet Blue. There are also many options in surrounding NYC airports.

If poop hits the fan, I’ll simply burn either Rapid Rewards, Avianca stash (on United) or Avios for JFK airport. One of those options should come through, I hope. I may also look into travel insurance. Unfortunately, when you book Spirit award tickets, you have to use your Spirit co-branded credit card to pay taxes. And it doesn’t offer any sort of travel protection.

Here is the cheapest rate for three days, for six people, and quoted benefit is per person:

We would be using Trip Interruption benefit to book our tickets to/from Newark, so this amount should cover the expense. If we end up staying an extra night, we’ll use Travel Delay protection. I’m still not sure if I should cough up the cash or just wing it. Thoughts?

But either way, even if I end up buying insurance, it will be a lot cheaper than burning 70K Rapid Rewards  points on six tickets. Those points can be redeemed on $700 Walmart gift card (via co-branded Southwest credit card), which is almost as good as cash to me. I’d rather pay $112 to save $700. Like I said, I’m a logical gal. Well, most of the time.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, my sister-in-law is not coming with us.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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13 thoughts on “My Sister-In-Law’s Paranoia about Spirit Paid Off!

  1. We came so close to being in the middle of that mess too. We flew FLL to STT a week before the riot. I’ve flown Spirit twice, and both times it was great. Maybe I shouldn’t push my luck. I may wait a little while before flying them again. It’s sad because they have some great rates to the Caribbean. I’m so glad your SIL wasn’t stuck. How awful for those passengers who missed a trip or were stranded coming home.

    • @Jennifer Yeah, I can’t believe how close you guys came to being in the middle of the riot at FLL. A good way to describe it, btw. I can’t even imagine, especially considering the fact that Amy had her tiny baby with her. Yikes. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to your trip report, especially the “Mile High Club” incident. 🙂

      • Yep. With Spirit we even got free entertainment on that flight. LOL. Trip report coming soon, I promise. 🙂

  2. If it makes anyone feel any better, we just last night flew Spirit Lga-dtw. Zero problems. Whereas using Avios on American I’ve been stranded/seriously delayed at least three times returning from Cleveland.
    The Spirit riot situation is obviously bad but I see it more as a one-off kind of thing. I’m more concerned by considerations that are ongoing in nature, and I’ve honestly had fewer of those overall with Spirit than with American and even United I think.
    That being said, for sure thank heavens you hadn’t chosen Spirit for this particular jaunt!:)

    • @Audrey Thank you for providing calming reassurance. I agree, bad things can happen on any airline. This Spirit fiasco was painful to watch, but chances of it occurring during our flight are low. At least I hope so! I would think the pilots will choose to do it again near Spirit headquarters (which is FLL) and not Orlando.
      I would rather fly on Southwest, of course, but I value my points and hate to part with them due to somewhat irrational fear. Though my sister-in-law thinks I’m totally nuts! Maybe I am. 🙂

      • Not quite the same but also under “FLL one-off but thank goodness”: I was booking a trip for my pregnant sister (with her miles) and tried to convince her to go via FLL as it was significantly cheaper. She decided to go direct (pregnant and all that). That was the day of the FLL shooting. Needless to say, I was SO GLAD I had not prevailed. Of course a miss is as good as a mile but it still felt way too close for comfort.

    • @Audrey Wow, I’m so happy she didn’t go through FLL! Speaking of, many years ago my sister debated on whether to go to Egypt or Turkey with her now husband. They decided on a vacation in Turkey because it was cheaper. Well, there was a bombing in Egypt, and if they ended up going with the original plan, she would have been staying in the same hotel on the DAY the bombing occurred. Kind of sends shivers down my spine to this day.

  3. My take is, anyone who flies frequently (and some unlucky ones who fly only rarely) will encounter a travel fiasco at some point, as well as have a near-miss or two. These things can happen with any carrier or airport; though some may have a better or worse reputation than others, I think it’s silly to avoid a particular one unless they’re literally in the middle of a strike / war / natural disaster. Most of the time, things go smoothly, and there’s no use being paranoid about ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, because that’s almost completely unpredictable. But when shit does hit the fan, travel insurance and / or a goodly stash of flexible points can be a real godsend.

    I was recently to fly Turkish Airlines from Manila to Germany via Istanbul, but my and many other flights to Istanbul were cancelled for days due to a few snowflakes… that’s many huge, long-haul flights of hundreds of people, for days. In Manila, we were brought to a hotel and given a dinner voucher, but were given no immediate rebooking and told to wait to be contacted by every airline representative we spoke to. And I absolutely had to be on the other side of the world in Germany the next day for a performance. Thank god I was able to use a ton of Flexpoints, a chunk of cash and some Avios to book myself a couple new flights and get where I needed to be in time.

    Despite many conversations with the good people at both Turkish airlines and Citi ThankYou (where I booked my ticket), I haven’t gotten reimbursed for my unused return flight, only taxi and hotel costs for my new itinerary I made for myself. I have sadly given up the attempt, but still consider myself very lucky, and have filed it all under, “Shit happens.” Yes, my fruitless conversations with Turkish and Citi ThankYou representatives left a bad taste in my mouth, but I would still use either company in the future if the deal was right.

    • @Debra I agree with you. Every time you travel, you take a risk on something possibly going wrong. Heck, even sitting at home carries dangers. Tornado can hit your house and kill you! It’s good to be careful and prepared, but even that isn’t always enough. But yes, once something occurs, the chances of it happening again in a near future are fairly low.
      I’m very sorry about your fiasco with Citi and Turkish. I recommend to possibly file a complain against Citi through CFPB. I don’t know if you used a credit card to pay a portion of the tickets, but that could be another angle. I imagine Turkish is primarily at fault, but like your said, getting somewhere with them is a challenge. You may also want to contact a lawyer and see if you have any recourse. Many offer a free consultation. I recommend Alex (his email is He recently helped me with miles and points related issue.

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