Spirit Airlines is ranked the worst airline in America

Spirit Airlines is wildly unpopular among consumers, so other airlines are copying its business model

Last year, Spirit Airlines earned the lowest score on American Customer Satisfaction Index's travel report, the travel survey. The budget airline, which offers low base fares but charges fees for carry-on luggage larger than 2,688 cubic inches, brushed off its poor survey results and maintained that its business model offers more choice.  

"Things that are often considered 'free' on other airlines, there is a cost associated with them, even if fliers don't want them," a Spirit spokesman told CNN last year. "We are giving customers a choice on what they have to pay for."

By that logic, Spirit this year will soon give customers even more choice. The airline announced in February that it will be cutting the size of carry-on bags allowed on its flights this spring, down to just 2,016 cubic inches. 

Detailed analysis puts Spirit at the bottom again 

While that business model is now attracting copy-cat fare structures from other airlines, Spirit's popularity among customers continues to remain in the tank. A new report published this week again ranks Spirit at the bottom among customer satisfaction. 

The Points Guy, a travel website, says that they used sources in the airline industry as well as thousands of pages worth of government and corporate documents to determine the best and worst airlines in America. For example, The Points Guy writes that they used reports submitted to the Department of Transportation to calculate statistics on lost baggage.

Spirit, they write, "finished dead last in four different criteria — on-time arrivals, customer satisfaction, cabin comfort and its frequent flyer program," the report says, "and second to last in another (unsurprisingly, its baggage and change fees)." 

Spirit's press office has not yet returned an inquiry from ConsumerAffairs. 

Airlines undeterred by Spirit's low rankings

American Airlines and United Airlines last year both introduced "basic" fares, in which passengers would pay less but then be charged for their carry-on luggage. United States Senator Chuck Shumer has called on the airlines to drop those new Spirit-like policies, which he said have "made it harder for everyday consumers to fly by banning the free use of the overhead bin for some travelers.” 

American, without naming Spirit, defended its new fee structure by saying that it gives the airline the "the ability to compete more effectively with the growing number of ultra-low cost carriers."

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