A Michigan mother is suing Spirit Airlines for $75,000 after staff kicked her 15-year-old daughter off of a flight and left her unsupervised in the airport, the suit alleges.
Stacy Giordano was with her son and daughter on the flight, heading back to Michigan from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in April 2018. They were scheduled to switch planes in Tampa, WXYZ reported.
Airline staff ushered Giordano’s 15-year-old daughter off of the flight in Tampa, without Giordano’s knowledge, as the daughter was seated in a different part of the plane from the mother and son.
“They didn’t want to hear anything. They just pulled her off the plane,” Giordano’s lawyer, Jerry Thurswell, told WXYZ.
The lawsuit alleges the 15-year-old was left in the airport by herself for three hours until the next flight to Detroit, Cox Media reported.
“When the child says my mother’s in the back of the plane why are you taking me off and they just take the child off and say sit here you’ll be on the next flight out—you don’t just separate a child from their mother,” said Thurswell, via WXYZ.
The lawsuit says Giordano “became sick, suffered a panic attack and suffered great emotional distress, extreme fear, horror, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma” due to the situation, according to Cox Media.
The 15-year-old tried to contact her mother, but couldn’t, because of the airline’s airplane mode cell phone policy, according to WXYZ. Thurswell said the teenager was removed because the flight was overbooked.
The attorney said the airline gave Giordano a refund on one ticket and offered extra flight miles.
“The safety and security of our Guests is our top priority,” Spirit Airlines said in statement to WXYZ.
Recently, more attention has been brought to how airlines handle overbooked flights after a man was filmed being dragged off of an overbooked United Airlines flight in 2017.
United Airlines didn’t have another flight leaving until the next morning, so David Dao, who initially volunteered to leave, sat back down, CNN reported. Security officers then boarded the plane and dragged him through the aisle to get him off the plane. Dao was left bleeding from the altercation.
Spirit Airlines ranks last out of 12 airlines in the Airline Quality Rating (AQR). AQR measures a combination of factors to form its rankings of America’s largest airlines, including mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance, and denied boardings.
Spirit also ranked either last or next to last in the last four years of the AQR.
Top travel blogger The Points Guy ranked Spirit No. 9 on a list of 10 airlines. Only Frontier ranked lower. The blog said it gave Spirit the low ranking because of limited destinations, a poor frequent flyer program, and few cabin features. It’s also the airline must likely to bump people off a flight.
The Points Guy also pointed out the positive side to flying with Spirit, including the least amount of lost checked baggage and good value for what you pay.
Business Insider reported that Spirit was the most likely to benefit of the recent grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two crashes in five months.
Spirit doesn’t fly Max 8s in its fleet, but since routes by Southwest, American, and United do the fly the plane and are likely to be affected, Spirit may gain passengers from those airlines.