Update: Spirit Airlines Strike -- What's the Cruise Impact?

June 18, 2010

Spirit Airlines
Update, 5:20 p.m. EDT: Spirit resumed flights today after announcing on June 16 that the airline and its pilots have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. This will be our last update on the matter unless further industrial action is taken.

What's the issue?

(June 14, 4 p.m. EDT) -- After weeks of on-again, off-again industrial action taken by British Airways cabin crew, yet another strike is causing grief for cruise travelers -- this time in the U.S. Florida-based Spirit Airlines has canceled all flights through Wednesday, June 16, after its pilot union went on strike Saturday. The strike is reportedly over failure to secure a new contract after three years of talks.

Which ports and ships could be affected?

Spirit hub Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport serves as a gateway for cruising from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Cruise lines that sail from those ports include Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

What's the cruise impact?

At this point, we have not received reports of travelers missing ships because of this weekend's strike. "We do very little business with Spirit Airlines, so we had virtually no impact because of the strike," Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity tells us. "We received fewer than 10 calls from [independent air] guests regarding Spirit and do not believe we had any no-shows as a result of the strike." An NCL spokeswoman also says there's no impact. (Other lines have not yet responded to our requests for comment.)

However, debarking cruisers who independently booked air with Spirit were impacted. According a story in today's Palm Beach Post, cruise passengers arrived at the airport post-voyage on Sunday to find they no longer had a flight home and had to scramble for a new booking.

What should I do?

There are no ships turning around in Miami or Fort Lauderdale before Wednesday. At this point, it's unknown whether the strikes could extend past that date, which could impact those planning to depart next weekend.

Spirit is offering travelers on canceled flights a future flight credit for the full amount of the unflown flight purchase (valid for one year from the original booking date) plus a $100 credit. However, those whose flights have not yet been canceled are being forced to wait it out.

Cruise Critic member Griswolds is already weighing the options: forfeit the fare and rebook, or hope for the best: "As of right now they tell me my flight is on schedule for next week and they are not offering any refunds/credit at this time. I understand there are no negotiations taking place so I don't see this ending by next week."

Because Spirit does not have reciprocal agreements with other airlines, impacted passengers have not been able to easily secure seats on other flights.
Were you impacted -- coming or going -- by the strike this weekend? Tell us!

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor