Passengers Get Stuck on a Spirit Airlines Plane for Over 7 Hours

Spirit passengers get stuck on a plane and they are furious. One woman says they have been stuck with their luggage below for seven hours.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Aug. 16 2023, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

Airplane horror stories are our favorite kind … because they’re relatable! Everyone who has flown has had an awful airplane experience, whether it was a bumpy flight, a severe delay, or an unruly passenger. But what happens when Spirit Airlines doesn’t provide a pilot for a flight?

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Obviously, someone makes a TikTok video about the incident! TikToker Lindsey Mascera (@lindsey.mascera) made a video to document what happened on that fateful Spirit flight and encouraged others not to fly with Spirit. However, some commenters were quick to call her out and say that the problem is not just Spirit … it’s all airlines. But what really went down?

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200 Spirit passengers got stuck on a plane for over seven hours.

The 43-second video begins with Lindsey telling us all what’s happening. “So we have 200 passengers on this flight right now,” Lindsey says as she shows us 200 very miserable-looking passengers. “Everyone’s luggage is down there,” she continues as she points her camera to the floor. “How long have you been waiting?” she asks the passengers.

One man says, “Five hours,” and a woman behind her says, “Seven hours.” Regardless of if they’ve been waiting five or seven hours, that's way too long. The woman said it had been seven hours since they checked in and boarded the plane. “They told us it was going to be 30 minutes and we’re all still on this flight,” Lindsey said.

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“At 10:44, Spirit, it’s almost 11 p.m. and we’ve been here since 3. We boarded at 4:47, whatever. We got delayed and now there are no pilots to be found and there’s no answer. Do not ride Spirit, they suck!” Lindsey finished her video.

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Spirit Airlines provided Distractify with the following comment clarifying what went down: "The aircraft returned to the gate due to air traffic control initiatives and weather conditions outside of our control, and Guests were offered access to the terminal," they said. Apparently, the issue may not have been a lack of pilots after all.

Many flights have been delayed and canceled due to pilot shortages.

Apparently, this isn’t the only flight with severe delays. Obviously, a delay is a major pain for any traveler, but it’s to be expected. I’m always ready to call up the airline in the event of a delay (unrelated to the weather) to see if there are any other flights to hop on. While these passengers have been “stuck” on the flight for hours on end, at least they didn’t plane and de-plane multiple times only for their flight to get canceled. (Yes, that happened to me.)

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One commenter wrote, “I work as an airline pilot and we all are seeing pilot shortages currently. I promise you that their crew scheduling department was working hard.” While that may be the case, many other commenters argue that that’s no reason to force passengers to stay aboard the plane for hours on end. In fact, some even say that there should be laws preventing this.

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But we can attest from experience that there are actually laws that prevent an airplane from holding passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “For flights departing from a U.S. airport, airlines are required to begin to move the airplane to a location where passengers can safely get off before 3 hours for domestic flights,” which would cover this flight. However, as we can see in the video, the door is open and passengers are able to deplane if they choose to.

While the passengers can leave, they may not want to for fear that the moment they leave, the issue will be resolved. We’ve all been there. Plus, the airline isn't required to let passengers back on the plane if they choose to get off so they might be forced to find another flight. In addition, with their luggage stuck on the plane, many passengers may not want to travel without their luggage.

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Airlines are also required to provide water and a snack after two hours in the event of a “tarmac delay,” but because this airplane’s door is still open and at the gate, this event might not even be considered a tarmac delay by law.

And unlike in the European Union, American flights aren't required to compensate passengers for delays or cancellations, so they might be doing what they think is best.

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Commenters still add that several airlines have done this. “Frontier is the WORST!” one person says. Another adds, “It’s all airlines … I’ve flown 40 Spirit flights and been delayed three hours ONCE.” Even still, many are adding that the seats seem relatively comfortable, especially for a budget airline. What those commenters fail to realize, however, is that the seats they can see are at the front of the plane and may have more space and comfort than others.

In another video Lindsey shared, the flight attendant instructs passengers that they can deplane. She also tells the passengers, “You’re absolutely right. I have no arguments with what all of you think and your frustrations.” She has clearly been in the same position and is just as frustrated. So whatever happened with this Spirit flight, all we can say is to not take it out on the flight attendants!

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