Inspections delay Spirit Airlines flights at Tampa, other other airports

October 24, 2013 

Voluntary engine inspections by Spirit Airlines after a scare in the air last week delayed hundreds of passengers Thursday morning, setting off tempers and grounding several flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Many of the passengers slept on terminal floors and chairs overnight. Others lost their cool, and one man had to be escorted away.

More than six flights were still showing delays on Spirit terminal screens early Thursday morning.

“It has been a disaster,” passenger Raphael Hernandez said.

At 6 a.m., flights from Fort Lauderdale to New York, Atlantic City, Denver and Tampa were listed as delayed from their scheduled Wednesday night departures.

A spokeswoman for Miramar-based Spirit was apologetic but said the inspections were necessary.

“Following the engine failure on one of our aircraft last week, and after reviewing routine maintenance procedures, we are completing a proactive and voluntary check on our aircraft engines overnight as a precautionary measure,” Misty Pinson said in a statement emailed to the Miami Herald.

She was referring to an Atlanta-bound Spirit plane that had engine failure last week and had to return to the Dallas airport, where the jet landed safely after passengers heard a loud boom in the air

Pinson said the inspections are designed to take 45 minutes. But some passengers were delayed for more than eight hours. That frayed nerves and prompted shouting.

"It was kind of getting out of hand," passenger Brianna Niemann told CBS4.

Some passengers complained that all they got was a $7 voucher for food. Others said the terminal resembled a homeless shelter. Luggage was not been released to passengers who wanted to make other travel arrangements.

Pinson said “each aircraft is being returned to service as soon as the check is completed.”

“We are working diligently to get our customers where they need to go as quickly as possible,” she said. “We expect all checks to be completed this morning. As always, the safety of our customers is our number one priority.”

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