Spirit Airlines CEO Apologizes, Tells Customers to Expect More Cancellations This Weekend

The airline has canceled more than 1,700 flights since Sunday

People wait in line at a Spirit Airlines counter at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on August 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Spirit and American Airlines have been forced to cancel hundreds of flights in recent days.
Unhappy people waiting for help at a Spirit Airlines counter in Houston this past week
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Spirit Airlines has been in crisis mode since Sunday after the company was forced to cancel more than 1,700 flights, leaving angry passengers stranded and disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of customers. To say it’s a public relations nightmare is an understatement, but on Thursday, Spirit CEO Ted Christie spoke to reporters to try and smooth things over.

Christie explained that a combination of bad weather and delays at the end of July along with staffing shortages, technology problems and a surge in summer travel led to a perfect storm of chaos that forced the airline to cut more than half of its schedule. “The puzzle ended up getting very complex,” he said. 

“There’s definitely some angry people,” Christie told reporters on Thursday. “Right now, all I can say is we’re very sorry for what happened.”

However, the airline’s not out of the woods yet. After canceling 446 flights on Thursday — which accounted for 56% of its total schedule — Spirit canceled an additional 255 flights on Friday morning (a third of its schedule). Christie warned that the airline will continue to cancel “a large number of flights over the next few days,” noting that the company hopes to reduce the number of cancellations next week.

“We’ve worked hard really over the last five years at both building Spirit and building its reputation,’’ he said. “I think we’re made tremendous strides. This is not our proudest moment and we know that.’’

It’s unclear right now exactly how financially devastating the cancellations have been on Spirit — as Christie said, “the math will come when the math comes” — but the airline is responsible for stranded passengers’ hotel costs, flight refunds and the cost of rebooking passengers on other airlines. The company has also been sending some passengers a $50 voucher for future flights as a gesture of goodwill.

“We are going to do everything we can to earn back the confidence of our guests and the traveling public,” Christie said. “We believe we can do that.”


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