An all-out brawl at a Spirit Airlines gate included employees from the airline all over bag fees.
Spirit Airlines PR issues statement: “Our records show that a vendor agent was assaulted by an unruly passenger at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) on Monday, Jan. 30., and an altercation followed. Spirit Airlines does not tolerate violence of any kind. We are investigating this matter and will take appropriate action as necessary.”
Brawl At A Spirit Airlines Gate
A fight at a Philadelphia International Airport gate erupted over baggage fees. The Ultra Low-Cost Carrier charges additional fees for bags over a certain size carried on board. Sizes are typically limited to a backpack that meets limited weight and measurements. United, JetBlue, and others also charge for carry-on luggage that exceeds similar requirements.
According to reports, a 39-year-old mother and her 17-year-old daughter attacked the Spirit Airlines agents at the gate who fought back.
“The younger woman tugs violently on a Spirit staffer’s dreadlocks while an airport worker in a high vis jacket slaps her over the back of the head and shouts ‘get off, get off.’
When the teen finally lets go, the furious agent aims several punches at her face – even while the girl is being restrained.
Several feet away her mom has lost her shirt and shoes in the scrap but she fights on in just her bra as a stunned bystander yells: ‘Where the f*** is security’.
At one stage a little boy, believed to be part of the same family, starts hitting a Spirit employee before running away in tears and sinking to his knees.
Just as the brawl appears to fizzle the mom makes a dash towards the counter and grabs a keyboard but is dragged away and punched in the head from behind by one of the Spirit agents.
Her wig is torn off before a uniformed official, either a cop or a security guard, finally shows up and the fighting ends, some two and a half minutes into the video.” – Daily Mail
Video is available from the Daily Mail.
Enough Is Enough
The report does not detail who started the fight but it would be difficult to imagine an airline employee attacking a passenger especially when that passenger was clearly upset and disputing the extra baggage charge. Presuming that’s the case, this is yet another case of passengers upset over a fee they were notified of in advance and chose to ignore resorting to physical violence against people simply doing their job.
Enough is enough.
Spirit makes it clear on its website, at the gate, on its printed tickets and in the app what it allows and doesn’t. Willful ignorance of those policies does not excuse their uproar. The fees themselves are not unique to Spirit. All mainline carriers (except for Southwest) charge for checked luggage, and several charge for carry-ons for their lowest ticketed fare class. All carriers charge for seat assignments when offered. And even in the case of sold fare classes that do not charge for carry-on luggage maintain limitations on what’s permissible in the cabin.
This is not a Spirit Airlines issue, and frankly, it’s not even an issue of an ill-informed passenger. This is an issue of someone not getting what they want and resorting to violence. It’s unnecessary, uncalled for, and out of control.
The question I’d ask to our government and to our readership is what is an employee to do when a customer resorts to physical violence against someone doing their job? And to what extent are those employees permitted to defend themselves? Security wasn’t sufficiently available for the Fort Lauderdale-bound flight. It doesn’t appear as though other citizens stepped in to quell the violence. Do we leave gate agents as sitting ducks for angry customers?
The insult to injury is that “no charges were filed.”
How is that possible? Certainly, airport security footage should show the cause of the fight and the culprit. Why should such passengers be permitted to attack another person and then simply walk away from the matter and the justice system entirely?
Gate agents should be permitted to defend themselves physically if needed, but airport security needs to do a better job of response and stepping in to stop these incidents in their tracks. But this is hardly a unique incident and passengers should be held accountable for their actions. Even if the passenger had not understood or acknowledged the numerous notices that fees would be incurred (rather than willfully flouting them) the response is still inappropriate, harmful, and illegal. Something has to change.
What do you think? How should airlines respond to this? What hand does law enforcement have for their response? Why were no charges filed?