Stacy Giordano claims Spirit staff ordered her 15-year old daughter off a flight without informing her.
A Michigan mother is suing Spirit Airlines for removing her 15-year old daughter from a flight without her knowledge or consent. Both have since claimed that the incident was traumatizing and are requesting $75,000 in damages.
The incident, reports Fox News, occurred in April. Stacy Giordano and her daughter were traveling from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Detroit. They were required to switch planes in Tampa.
Spirit, like many budget airlines, doesn’t allow passengers to pre-select seats without paying a fee.
After boarding, Giordano and her son found themselves near the back of the aircraft while the daughter was situated closer to the front. Before takeoff, the teenager was “pulled off the plane” by staff, apparently without explanation and perhaps due to overbooking.
Giordano family attorney Jerry Thurswell said the girl didn’t have time to notify her mother.
“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,” Thurswell said. “You don’t just separate a child from their mother.”
“They didn’t want to hear anything. They just pulled her off the plane,” Thurswell told WXYZ News.
The plane departed as scheduled; Giordano didn’t realize her daughter wasn’t aboard until midway through the flight.
Fox notes that the girl made repeated attempts to contact her mother while the plane was still at the gate.
The attempts were unsuccessful, as Giordano had already placed her cell phone on airplane mode.
Giordano and her daughter have both allegedly suffered emotional distress as a result of the three-hour separation, with the mother purportedly having a panic attack and having “extreme fear, horror, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma” upon discovering the teenager wasn’t on the flight.
The lawsuit, writes DetroitNews.com, claims that Spirit employees weren’t properly trained to handle the situation and, as a consequence of their “careless and negligent actions,” caused undue suffering to the family.
Spirit told WXYZ-TV that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation but stressed that the “safety and security of our Guests is our top priority.”
To compensate for the inconvenience, Spirit refunded Giordano and offered her extra flight miles.
This isn’t the first time Spirit, a U.S.-based international budget carrier, has faced legal trouble.
The company was sued last year after a class-action alleged that it deceptively advertised low fares, then charged customers an array of fees for supposedly necessary services. Plaintiffs claimed that the airline didn’t disclose the cost of checking bags or taking carry-ons aboard until after tickets had already been purchased, although astute customers likely would have noticed the numerous prompts throughout the booking process.
Although the company has drastically improved its on-time performance in the past several years, Spirit still retains a reputation for late flights, cheap business tactics and poor customer service.
The practice of charging additional fees for bags and priority boarding is an increasingly common practice among budget carriers, who use the sales to subsidize low out-the-door fares.