Fliers Hate Cramped Seats Most, Spirit Airlines Finds

(Sun Sentinel/MCT) -

Fliers hate small, tight seats more than anything else.

Close behind are lost bags and baggage policies, followed by delays and bad customer service.

That’s what Spirit Airlines found when it surveyed thousands of travelers. The low-cost airline, based in Miramar, Fla., sponsored a “Hug the Haters” campaign in July, setting up a website where travelers could vent about why they hate flying. Anyone who participated got 8,000 frequent-flier miles on Spirit.

Nearly 30,000 people griped in the first few days, Spirit announced this week.

Twenty percent hated airline seats (size, shape, leg room); 16 percent were frustrated with lost bags and baggage policies; and 15 percent complained about delays and airline customer service.

Spirit said it was surprised that 60 percent of responses were about other airlines. Not surprisingly, Spirit led the pack in frustrations about its fee structure.

The budget carrier charges a low base fare and then charges extra for what it calls optional services, such as large carry-on bags, checked bags, onboard snacks and advance seat assignments.

“Airlines mess up, and air travelers get frustrated,” Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said in a statement. “Spirit is listening and willing to be transparent enough to admit where we can do things better. The feedback we received makes it clear no airline is immune from upsetting their customers, and at Spirit we can do a better job of explaining how flying with us is different.”