Traveler recounts nightmare experience with Spirit Airlines at O’Hare

What was supposed to be a routine trip to Orlando, Florida from Chicago’s O’Hare airport this morning, turned terribly wrong for passengers on a Spirit Airlines flight.

Four passengers were taken to the hospital.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. It was delayed five hours.

The plane pushed off from the gate around 2 p.m. but had to taxi back.

Tempers were flaring and passengers were overheated due to steamy temperatures from lack of air conditioning.

Passenger Frank Deanglo said some passengers passed out.

Deangelo said police arrived and forced Spirit Employees to open the doors. Still no one was able to tell them why the flight never took off and was forced to go back to the gate.

According to the Chicago Fire Department, four people were transported to the hospital – a pregnant woman, a diabetic and another passenger with anxiety – all with non life-threatening symptoms.

Once inside the terminal, Deanglo says the remaining passengers were eventually told around 7:45 p.m. that the flight was cancelled.

A spokesperson from Spirit Airlines media relations told WGN the plane in question was having mechanical problems when it landed at O’Hare but could taxi and land safely. For the flight to Orlando, the aircraft’s next leg of the trip, the crew noticed mechanical issues that wouldn’t make it safe to take off.

As far as the air conditioning unit, they say it wasn’t working.

And they say only one passenger requested medical assistance, rather than four.

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16 comments

    • Jordan

      @haywood. You are what is wrong with this society. By blaming the consumer you are letting big companies get away with sh*t. No one should be treated like there passenger were, no matter what.

  • Mike

    There is no way in this world that I would EVER fly on Spirit. I would drive or even take Greyhound before stepping on a spirit flight.

  • Lou A

    Having dealt personally with Spirit CEO B. Ben Baldanza during his tenure at hs previous employer, I can tell you for certain, HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE CUSTOMERS !! He only cares about getting their money, and keeping his employees among the lowest paid in the industry. He stands about 5’3″ tall. and certainly has the Napoleon Syndrome. He only cares about revenue per mile vs cost per mile. Charging for carry on bags is the proof. He’s an arrogant little man that just won’t listen to people around him. Isn’t that right, Ben. Rack your brain and try to remember me from those meetings in Crystal City. In your little ivory tower near Washington National Airport.

  • bmozek

    This is such a horribly produced piece. “The plane was scheduled to depart at 10:30, it pushed at 2:00pm, it was delayed 5 hours.” No, thats 3.5 hours. Thats a long delay but this is ORD and delays of 3.5 hours is likely during high traffic flow periods. The passenger who is recounting his story over the phone is confused and is exaggerating for the sake of exaggerating….

    -Its an Airbus 320, it has max 178 passengers, not “over 300″ as he claims. 178 is still, alot, but you lose credibility when you throw out random figures.

    -a plane just doesnt pull up 15′ from the gate and stop for 30 minutes as he claims. A plane will stop short of a gate while waiting for ground personal to guide them in, that takes a few minutes. The reason why they were short of the gate in this story, is because there wasn’t a gate. They were being directed to a “hard stand” out on the ramp and they had to wait for the ground crew to get the “air stairs” etc set up to deplane passengers. Once a plane leaves a gate at a busy airport like ORD, odds are, its going to be occupied when you try and return back to it unscheduled, hence the air stairs and the time it takes to coordinate deplaning 178 people on an airport ramp.

    -No moron, you did not sit on the taxi way for over an hour. If taxiing out, a problem is noticed with the plane, the pilots will be notified by the computer there is an issue. The pilots will ask ground control to move over to a side of the taxi way to park and trouble shoot the issue. This included running checklists, contacting dispatch and talking with maintenance control over the phone. They are trying to do whatever they can to correct the issue without having to bring the plane back to the gate. Why? See above.

    -Its not an AC unit. Each engine has an Air conditioning “Pack” which takes engine hot air and cools it through an air cycle machine and that cools the air to be dispensed into the cabin. Each engine has 1, there is always 2. The plane would not have been dispatched with both packs not working. Why? Because the packs also control pressurization of the plane. The plane getting warm could have been for a number of reason, perhaps why it had to go back to the gate. Possible bleed overheat. I do not trust the report that said the airline claimed “The air conditioner wasnt working.” Its a idiot statement, this is not your AC on your Buick or at your house.

    Bottom line is it sucks bad for the passengers, I feel for them. This kind of thing happens every day on many airlines. The issue is the horrible joke being passed off as reporting. Is this what it really has come down to? A guy calling in on the phone, recounting what he knows to be true? WGN, so sad, so so sad.

  • Becca

    This piece is inaccurate. I was on this flight. Passengers eventually called the police because we were taxiing without answers, water, or A/C for a total of about an hour and 45 minutes without returning to the gate. Was told by several members of TSA afterwards that we are to be out there no more than one hour. Authorities were called when a man in the row next to me passed out, was not rendered proper assistance by the flight attendance crew (the girl in the video above with the blue tank top was CPR certified and assisting him), and eventually began seizing. My diabetic aunt was taken to the hospital after beginning to violently heave. The cops later stated that two unattended children were found on the back of the plane because no member of the crew assisted them in de-boarding.

    We purchased our tickets on this flight through a package deal on the Las Vegas tourism website. Regardless of costs, no customers should be treated the way we were treated. I’m still in awe of just how foul and terrifying this experience was. I assure you, it was just as bad as the article states. Actually worse.

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  • Burt Ward

    If you can go about your life and not have to travel by air, you are extremely blessed in today’s terms. My company has added considerably generous travel benefit. If your business meeting or event is just 300 miles way, you can rent a car. Its nice because most of our trips are between my city and Dallas. I have actually beaten executives who flew. Well, you arrive two hours early to the airport and check in. Lets say the meeting is at 9AM. I leave at 5AM in car. Executives get to airport at 4AM. At 6:45AM, I’m now reaching Lewisville and having a quick breakfast at La Madelein’s. The executive is landing at DF/W. 7:15 I’m headed down I-35 with my mug of great coffee. 8:15 I arrive at the business complex and grab a scone and talk with other participants and just relax. 7:45, the executive reaches the luggage belt, 8:15 reaches rental car terminal, and just about 9AM gets to the meeting barely in time all worn out already from the ordeal. At the end of the even the executive has to take his rental back to the terminal and then take a shuttle back to his departure gate. I’m down the highway and dining in Frisco at “Babe’s.” I get home a little after the exec gets home but I’ve had a very nice trip.


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