MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Spirit Airlines proactively canceled 34 flights Friday to and from Myrtle Beach.
Over the course of the past week, thousands of passengers have been left stranded at Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) as a result of the mass cancellations at the airport and nationwide.
Stuck passengers have turned to other ways of getting out of Myrtle Beach. Many of them booked flights with other airlines.
Cheryl Webb, Tonya Johnson and Yvonda Lester all flew out with United Airlines and booked it themselves. Jim Cesnick has been attempting to fly home to Pennsylvania with Spirit for several days.
“I’ve been trying to get home since Tuesday,” Cesnick said.
The airline put him in a hotel for each night he was stuck in Myrtle Beach, but Cesnick no longer wanted to deal with the uncertainty of knowing whether his flight would take off, so he rebooked with Southwest Airlines.
“But you know what, pretty nice hotels get kind of old after a while,” he said. “I’d like to sleep in my own bed.”
Cesnick will fly to Atlanta, then Tampa, before landing in Pittsburgh around midnight Saturday into Sunday.
“It’s not a trip,” Cesnick said. “It’s an expedition longer than it would take me to drive from here to Pittsburgh.”
The Hertz location at MYR estimated that one-way rentals were up this week by 25% because of stranded passengers looking for a way out. The top destinations were Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Renting a car was not worth it for Cesnick nor Gloria Cooper, who was calmer than most stranded passengers. She had been at MYR since Tuesday trying to get to Hartford, Connecticut.
“Even though this is my third day waiting to get to my destination, what do you do?” Cooper asked.
Cooper said the airline treated her as best as it could and understood the tough circumstances. She said she had a room and meals as well as transportation compensated by Spirit. The airline rebooked her to fly to Hartford with American Airlines Friday night.
“It wasn’t really an easy process,” Cooper said. “I had to stand in line for a good seven hours, but it ended [well].”
Cooper said she did not have to pay anything out of pocket and had no complaints for how the airline handled her situation.
Cesnick does not share the same sentiments. He said he would never fly Spirit again. He said the airline offered him $50 discounts for future flights.
I don’t care,” Cesnick said. “They can take those $50 and stick ’em where the sun don’t shine.”
Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ted Christie said on CBS This Morning Friday that the images of stranded passengers at airports around the country where heart-wrenching.
“It’s a terrible experience,” Christie said. “We’re doing our best to make up for that, and I believe we have. Those people are either where they belong or are in a hotel or afforded the option to go somewhere else.”
The mass cancellations began last weekend. The airline said a perfect storm of factors combined to create the travel nightmare.
“What started with weather and its associated delays led to more and more crew members getting dislocated and being unable to fly their assigned trips,” Spirit Airlines said in a statement to News13. “Ultimately, the number of crews facing those issues outpaced our crew scheduling department’s capacity for getting them back in place.”
According to FlightAware, 44% of Spirit flights were canceled Friday. That represents an improvement over Thursday when 56% of Spirit flights did not take off. Spirit said the airline should begin to catch back up over the weekend.
“Yesterday our cancellation rate improved and it’s on track to improve further today,” Spirit said in a statement. “While we never want to cancel flights and inconvenience our guests, this is a step in the right direction. Christie said he expects Spirit’s cancellation rate to continue to improve over the weekend, resuming normal operations by the middle of next week.”