Spirit Airlines demands passports for flight to Puerto Rico.
Spirit Airlines refused to allow a Puerto Rican family to board a flight from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico because they did not have a passport for their two-year old child.
The parents didn’t need a passport — nor did their child — because Puerto Ricans are United States citizens and Puerto Rico is not an international destination.
However, this did not stop the low cost carrier from denying the family on the plane.
According to reports, the Spirit employee insisted that Puerto Rico was an international destination and that a passport was required for all travellers.
The family was told they could either have a refund or reschedule to fly home once they have a passport for their child.
“At first [the Spirit employee] told me, ‘This is an international flight,’” Marivi Roman Torres, who was travelling with her husband and son, said.
“I asked her if there was anything that I can do, because I for sure know that I don’t need a passport to go to Puerto Rico.
“Is there someone else I can talk to? Can we call customer service together? They were completely inflexible, there was no empathy, they were like walls.”
The family ended up going to the JetBlue counter, to be told a passport was “not needed to go to Puerto Rico” and booked on a flight to Puerto Rico that day.
After the incident, the airline said in a statement that they “sincerely apologized” for the inconvenience.
The airline said: “Spirit has a long history of serving Puerto Rico and we offer about 25 daily flights to three destinations on the island.
“In this specific case, an agent at LAX who is new to the position misunderstood the identification requirements. We are providing the agent with additional coaching and reiterating proper procedure.”
The budget airline added: “We sincerely apologize to our guest and their family for the inconvenience, and we issued a refund for the tickets and provided them with future travel vouchers.”
The incident prompted online criticism of Spirit Airlines.
One user commented: “Until Hurricane María in 2017, most Americans were either unaware or ignorant of the basics about Puerto Rico. To this day many don’t know the basics even if the ‘Puerto Ricans are American citizens’ fact has percolated more. I’ve had members of Congress gape when learning facts.”
Another said: “How does the airline agent and the supervisor not know that you don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico? You learn that Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the USA in the third grade. The airline agent not knowing is one thing. The supervisor not knowing is inexcusable.”