Spirit Airlines wanted me to fly during a pandemic
today at 10:51 am
I like Spirit Airlines. Yeah, I know it’s a controversial take, but I really do like them…a lot.
I’m a semi-regular customer of Spirit. I fly with them a few times each year. I have very few complaints. They’re almost always on time. Once you’re in the air, is there really any difference between airlines? And most importantly….$$$$!
Last September, I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles for $125…ROUND TRIP! How do you beat that? So yeah, I’ll put up with a lot for that price.
In February, I decided I wanted to go to Utah. The best way to get there was to start by booking a trip to Las Vegas. Hello, Spirit! For less than $100, I was going to Nevada and Utah. I told you, it’s all about the Benjamins.
It was eight weeks ago today that I was on the airplane to Vegas. Usually there’s an excitement in the air from the passengers flying there. They’ll be spending the next few days gambling, drinking, seeing shows, being with friends and partying. Living the high life. Why wouldn’t anyone be excited? But, not on that day. Not on my plane.
My flight was eerily quiet. People were glued to their seats. It was as if they didn’t want to come into contact with strangers. You didn’t know who had what? They were nervous that the person sitting next to them could be the one to pass on the virus.
It was odd behavior from people heading to a city where they would have little choice but to be in close contact with strangers. Social distancing was not possible in Las Vegas. It was a strange way to begin a vacation.
Four days later it was even more eerie. A Friday night flight back to Chicago was almost empty. Every passenger had their own row of seats. Sure, it was nice to spread out, but it felt more than a little creepy. I asked a flight attendant if she thought the Coronavirus was scaring people off. She said yes.
The worst was about to begin…and it was less than a week away.
Five days later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States. In a matter of days, all businesses were affected. They were cutting back, if not shutting down completely. This included airlines.
During the early weeks of the pandemic, I’d receive emails from Spirit, informing me of their newest deals. I’d take a quick peek, then hit delete. I had no plans to go anywhere. But then, one of their messages caught my eye. Spirit wasn’t selling anything. They were just checking to make sure life under these horrid conditions was going okay. Also, letting me know that once things got back to normal, Spirit was going to be there to take care of my travel needs.
Sure, it was a form letter, but it’s warmth made me feel cared for and wanted. Nothing wrong with that under these trying times.
After reading the email, I decided to see how Spirit was handling the pandemic. I went to their website and looked into booking some flights. Chicago to Los Angeles…SEVENTEEN DOLLARS EACH WAY!! Didn’t even have to book two weeks in advance. If I wanted to go the next day, done! Next came Las Vegas. SEVENTEEN DOLLARS EACH WAY!!! It was the same thing for Boston and New York. Of course, once you get to any of those places, there’s nothing to do because those cities are closed like everywhere else in the world. Although maybe I can get to Vegas and be part of that petri dish test group that that crazy Mayor Goodman was talking about last week.
I didn’t book any flights because I’m somewhat sane these days. It did, however make me curious as to what it would be like to fly during a pandemic of epic proportions. I have a friend who is a pilot for a different airline. She flew to Los Angeles a few days ago. I asked her what it was like:
“The airports were creepy empty. 41 souls on the ORD-LAX leg (including crew, so 34 passengers) and 39 souls on the return the next day. So yes, Howard, you could’ve had a couple rows to yourself! It is impossible to social distance in the cockpit. Just, impossible.”
I figured that would be her answer. No matter how much you hate any airline, you have to feel bad for them. How is it possible to stay in business with only thirty-four passengers on your airplane? By the way, that will be her last flight for a month. Sorry!!
It had been a few weeks since I checked the Spirit website. I was curious to see if those seventeen dollar deals still existed. SCORE!!!! They’re still there, but with limitations. The flights to Boston and New York are gone. Very few flights to both Los Angeles and Las Vegas…and it’s not at that price every day. No big deal…at least for now. No one is going anyway.
It’ll be interesting to see what the airline industry looks like when the pandemic is over. If you thought it was scary to fly in early March, imagine how the feelings will be in July, August or whenever. My guess is people will get on planes again, but it will be a slow process and with second thoughts.
I hope my friends at Spirit will still be in business. I’m looking forward to my next seventeen dollar flight to Vegas.
Related Post: Would you fly on 9/11?
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