Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Fists Fly at Fort Lauderdale Airport After Airline Cancels Flights

Fists Fly at Fort Lauderdale Airport After Airline Cancels Flights

Earlier in the day, Spirit Airlines had cancelled at least seven flights after filing a lawsuit against their own pilot's union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), over a new bargaining agreement.

Cell phone video captured stranded Spirit passengers screaming, pushing and shoving Broward Sheriff's deputies who were trying to restrain the crowd and keep everything under control. On Tuesday, the airline had only canceled one flight departing from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, a nonstop connection to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

In the latest incident of airline chaos, multiple videos were posted online showing altercations that had broken out between travelers and airline employees, with authorities doing their best to restore order. The three are charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing.

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Spirit spokesman Paul Berry issued a statement apologizing to customers and saying the company is "shocked and saddened" by the Fort Lauderdale melee.

Airline customers have always been vulnerable to bad labor relations at airlines.

Canceled flights, kerfuffles at the ticket counter, clashes with local law enforcement - it's fair to say that neither customers nor Spirit Airlines staff members intended their night to unfold this way at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

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A low-priced carrier like Spirit is even more vulnerable to that kind of pressure tactic because of its more limited schedule, said Mike Boyd, an airline consultant. They blame the Airline Pilots Association for the cancellations, adding they've filed a lawsuit against the pilots association over an "unlawful job action". The pilots' union denies involvement in any job action that would disrupt business.

Latreece Smith rests as her friend Tamari Cameron checks flight information, Tuesday, May 9, 2017, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company says its offer would increase pilot pay by 30% immediately, but it would increase costs by only $440 million over the same five years. He said passengers are often anxious before flying, so any serious disruption can aggravate matters.

If you have a flight, we suggest you call ahead.

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