Spirit Airlines flight cancellations continue Thursday for Pittsburgh travelers

PITTSBURGH — Spirit Airlines said flight cancellations would start dropping off Thursday, but as of Thursday morning, that hasn’t happened at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Over the past few days, travelers have been left stranded and scrambling at airports across the United States -- including at Pittsburgh International and Latrobe’s Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, every Spirit flight in and out of PIT was cancelled. Flights in and out of Arnold Palmer were also cancelled.

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“It’s not right. My granddaughter’s crying because she’s anxious to see her family. She hasn’t seen them in two weeks,” Linda Strothers, a traveler from Monroeville, said.

Strothers’ trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with her granddaughter has been put on pause twice since Tuesday.

“As soon as we get to Latrobe, they said it’s cancelled. I didn’t get no notification or anything. And so they booked us another flight, and we get here and it’s cancelled,” Strothers said.

It was a similar story on Wednesday. Several flights both into and out of Arnold Palmer and Pittsburgh International airports were cancelled again on Wednesday.

Some flights scheduled to depart from or arrive at Pittsburgh International Airport on Tuesday were also cancelled. And on Monday, of the 17 flights scheduled in and out of Pittsburgh, only four took off.

At Arnold Palmer Airport, the airline cancelled four departing flights on Tuesday. The airline also cancelled flights there on Monday.

Channel 11 reached out to Spirit Airlines and received the following statement:

“The last three days were extremely difficult for our Guests and Team Members, and for that we sincerely apologize. We continue to work around the clock to get our Guests where they need to be.

We’ve dealt with overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages that caused widespread irregularities in our operation and impacted crew scheduling. These issues were exacerbated by the fact that we are in peak summer travel season with very high industry load factors and more limited options for Guest re-accommodations.

After working through yesterday’s proactive cancellations, we’ve implemented a more thorough reboot of the network, allowing us to reassign our crews more efficiently and restore the network faster. As a result, cancellation numbers will progressively drop in the days to come.

By taking an in-depth look at the challenges we’re facing, we have identified opportunities for improvement that will help us operate a more resilient network and better serve our Guests.”

Spirit Airlines told Channel 11 that cancellations should start dropping Thursday, and an issue with the crew scheduling IT system is contributing to their operational challenges.

Travelers are still encouraged to check for notifications and their flight status before going to the airport.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement:

“Spirit management has begun treating this irregular operations (IROP) as a hurricane recovery and strategically canceled flights around the system with the possibility of a system reset.

“A call between AFA, ALPA, Spirit CEO Ted Christie, and COO John Bendoritis has been scheduled for this afternoon. AFA is providing a set of recommendations to the airline to keep everyone safe, protected, and restore the operation. We will continue to work with the airline on this and provide support to Flight Attendants.”

Amanda Watson and her dad, Jim, were set to leave on a flight from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach Monday morning. Once at the airport, they saw that the flight was cancelled.

“We saw there was this huge line for Spirit... over 200 people, crazy,” she said.

They waited in line for about two hours before a Spirit employee booked them on a later flight out of Latrobe. On the drive east, that flight was delayed further.

“I just wish we had an explanation,” Watson said.

Others told Channel 11 their Spirit flights were cancelled over the weekend.

Gabbie Fisher and Stephanie Edwards had already made it through security when they learned their flight was cancelled on Sunday.

“They offered to reschedule it for that night, but it was all full and got cancelled, too,” Edwards said.

They stayed at a nearby hotel room at their own expense and returned to the airport with a new flight on Monday.

“It’s already been delayed by two and a half hours and is probably going to get cancelled again,” Fisher said.