Airline Sends Private Jet To Pick Up 4 Year Old Girl With No Passport

Spirit Airlines flight NK3216 from San Juan to Philadelphia diverted to Turks & Caicos on June 30, because a 4 year old girl had a medical emergency.

On board the flight the girl was administered oxygen, but the airline and medical advisors determined they needed to get her more care and flew to Providenciales for hospitalization before continuing on with the rest of the passengers back to Philadelphia.

The airline dropped the family off. The girl recovered. But they were stranded – the local airport was closed to commercial traffic, and the they hadn’t even intended to leave the country so weren’t carrying passports. So the very next day Spirit actually sent a plane to bring the family back to Puerto Rico.

This ‘charter flight’ became the family’s own private jet for the 467 mile flight. You can see in a video Spirit made of the event that they chose to sit in the Big Front Seats.

For an airline whose then-CEO once accidentally hit reply all on an email copying a customer with an insult and saying they deserved no compensation for bad service, and that they’d be back when the airline’s fares are lowest, I take the making of this video to be a signal that they aren’t that airline anymore. And they’re not – despite all of the fees, the garish branding, and the rock bottom fares they’re a much better airline operation.

And they appear to have a heart. Their social media account by the way actually says they’re here to help now. It used to say the account was unmonitered, to save money and deliver low fares.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Now the question is would the airline have done this if the affected passengers weren’t BIPOC?

  2. It’s nice to see that companies can change for the better. While Spirit clearly still isn’t winning any awards for passenger-friendly policies, at least this shows that they do have a heart and care about their public image.

    In a similar vein, AutoSlash has called out Payless for many years for their deceptive business practices and piss poor customer service. This continued for a long time after Avis Budget had acquired them, but we’re happy to report that even they seem to have turned over a new leaf in the past couple of years. While they’re not bending over backward to help customers in need, at least they seem to have cleaned up their act and we’re no longer hearing horror stories from customers.

    Guessing that social media has had an effect on the bad actors. Small wins, but wins nonetheless.

  3. @Jason, All lives matter said so quickly to disarm racism. The moment you posted your comment proves all lives are not equal/matter. BIPOC or not it was the right thing to do for another human being.

  4. Gary,
    I understand that the title is supposed to be a hook and get more clicks, but I’d argue you’d get more resonance by rewording it to “Spirit Airlines sends a stranded family their own Airbus to airlift them home”. This is not just some faceless airline dispatching a chartered jet, they are struggling with survival themselves and sending a massive aircraft with 140+ seats! I believe that they deserve to be recognized in the headline for this.

  5. Sometimes, it’s okay to just say, “That was a very kind thing to do.”
    So, that was a very kind thing to do.

  6. Great job Spirit! Nice to see a positive story for once about this airline rather than a passenger brawl! Maybe they have turned the corner.

  7. @Jason

    Totally correct. Certain groups get special privileges, including discrimination in their favor in hiring and academic admissions. Certain groups also automatically are believed if they make an accusation against another party. Corporate America really is bending over backward to placate blacks and other non white groups, while going out of their way to put whites at the back of the bus.

  8. WOw how much did that cost them and why not just pay for a small private jet….less fuel less$$$

  9. @Lorenzo that NK was not given publicity with this kind ( expensive ) deed. Apparantly they are improving in customer service and especially with a medical emergency. With that said… exactly why did you fail to credit NK Gary ??

  10. So they leave a family stranded on an international vacation island and are getting praised for rescuing them? Why did they even go there in the first place during a pandemic?

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