Spirit Airlines scrubs 60% of its Wednesday flights, says cancellations will drop 'in the days to come.'

·3 min read

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Spirit Airlines passengers faced another day of cancellations on Wednesday, extending the airline's travel chaos into its fourth day.

The Florida-based airline, famous for its yellow planes, cheap tickets and a pile of fees, has canceled 419 Wednesday flights, 60% of its scheduled flights, according to flight tracker FlightAware. It accounted for the majority of U.S. flight cancellations, which totaled 636 as of 5 p.m. EDT.

Spirit has been scrubbing flights since Sunday, stranding passengers around the country due to summer storms, technology outages and staffing shortages.

The airline canceled a whopping 61% of its Tuesday flights and 42% of its Monday flights, according to FlightAware.

Spirit apologized to passengers and employees in a statement issued Wednesday morning and pledged that cancellation numbers will "progressively drop in the days to come.''

"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,'' the statement said.

The airline continued to attribute the massive flight woes to "overlapping operational challenges,'' including weather, technology system outages and staffing shortages.

"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.''

Spirit to passengers: Check your flight status before going to airport

The airline and airports it serves have been warning travelers to check their email for flight changes and to check flight status before they go to the airport.

Travelers whose flights are canceled are due a refund, per Department of Transportation rules, but passengers on a budget may find their only option is to wait for another Spirit flight because last-minute tickets are pricey and hard to get during the busy summer travel season.

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Spirit said the best way to get a refund is to use its new online chat.

A pandemic record of 2,238,462 people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday as the final month of summer vacation season kicked off.

"We understand how frustrating it is for our guests when plans change unexpectedly,'' Spirit spokesman Field Sutton said in a statement. "We're working to provide refunds for cancellations and, when possible, to re-accommodate our guests.''

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the union representing 4,500 Spirit flight attendants, said union officials met with Spirit CEO Ted Christie and Chief Operating Officer John Bendoraitis on Tuesday afternoon to discuss steps to restore the operation. Before the meeting, the union said Spirit's strategy was akin to recovery from a hurricane.

In a statement Wednesday, the union called the talks successful and said the airline continues to proactively cancel flights to rebound more quickly.

"In an operational breakdown like this, the airline needs to 'reset' in order to recover quicker and prevent further disruptions that could last weeks,'' the AFA said. "The reset will see significant cancellations in the short term, but avoid long term disruptions.''

The union said Spirit agreed to offer flight attendants "premium pay'' to pick up extra trips, an incentive Southwest has used this summer when its run into major flight issues.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Spirit Airlines flights: More than 400 cancellations as frustration grows

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