Spirit Airlines sucks hardest in new complaints survey, but Frontier's gaining fast

Categories: Business, News

Photos and more below.
We recently told you about the annual Airline Quality Rating study, in which Frontier Airlines got hammered, particularly in the area of customer complaints.

Turns out, though, that another carrier -- Spirit Airlines, which wasn't included in the AQR report -- has generated more gripes than Frontier according to "The Unfriendly Skies," a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. But Frontier is gaining ground at an unflattering clip. See details, graphics and the complete report below.

Spirit is certainly a familiar airline to Denver travelers, and in January, it hyped travel to the city by alluding to the legalization of marijuana. A promotion touted "fares so low they're barely legal in some states."

The complete item reads:

The 'No Smoking' Sign is Off (in Colorado)

Get Mile High with $10 Off* Flight-Only Bookings & Flights Booked with Vacation Packages

If you want to make a beeline for Colorado right now, we don't blame you -- but we're up to take you to plenty of chill destinations. Book a flight only, flight + hotel, flight + car or flight + hotel + car for travel from January 11, 2014 through March 12, 2014 (offer not valid for travel on Sundays) and you'll save $10 off* the flight portion of your trip! Simply enter 10OFF (all caps, no spaces) in the Promotion Code box on the home page when booking to get these savings. Book today...and be sure to pack some munchies. All flights must be booked by 11:59pm on January 6, 2014 and a 7-day advance purchase is required.

A photo from the Spirit Airlines Facebook page.
We doubt "The Unfriendly Skies" has left the folks at Spirit feeling mellow, however. As you can see by this graphic showing complaints by airline over a five year period, from 2009 to 2013, finds Spirit's line way above every other carrier's:

The complete report is below, but here's the damning summary of Spirit's performance:
Spirit Airlines, which markets itself as a low-cost, no-frills airline, generated the most complaints per 100,000 passengers every single year in the study, by a large margin. It was nearly three times as likely to generate complaints as the second place airline each year. As the airline has grown in the past every years, complaints against the airline have skyrocketed.

Since 2008, the DOT has hit Spirit with five different fines totaling $565,000 for violating various consumer protection laws concerning over-sales, baggage, and multiple cases of deceptive advertising.

In fact, Spirit's ranking on complaints is so out of proportion to the others that a second graphic actually excludes it. In the latter, you can see that Frontier, represented by the orange line, was in range of the other airlines until 2012, at which point complaints spiked, pushing the carrier above all its competitors other than Spirit:

How does the study illustrate Frontier's fall from grace?

Continue to read more about airlines and customer complaints, including additional graphics and the complete study.

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Thomas Lasher
Thomas Lasher

You get what you pay for. If your complaints are worth an extra $200 then maybe you shouldn't fly on low cost airlines.

Erica Vaughn
Erica Vaughn

I have never had an issue with frontier . I wonder what's up?

Kevin Cooley
Kevin Cooley

I flew spirit on Wednesday for cheap, no complications. Beat flight since nwa

Chris Cook
Chris Cook

Id rather pay an extra $200 than fly Spirit again. Like many people I haved talked to.. First and last time flying with them

Eric O Klinger
Eric O Klinger

Flying Frontier used to be a welcome relief compared to Air Tran and Spirit. Frontier execs have worked hard over the past two years to gut everything good and make it more competitive with the cut-rate airlines.

Jeff Hulsing
Jeff Hulsing

Frontier overbooked my flight, and even though I showed up an hour before my flight, they bumped me to a flight several hours later. I missed the event I was flying out for

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