A four-year-old child was ruined forever after Spirit Airlines laid on an empty plane to repatriate the young lady and her family back to Puerto Rico last week. In late June, en route from San Juan to Philadelphia, Miss Four was involved in a medical emergency, forcing that Spirit Airlines flight to divert to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
Stranded in Turks and Caicos
Miss Four bounced back, as small kids usually do, but she and her parents couldn’t leave Turks and Caicos. There are probably worse places in the world to be stuck, but her mother and father wanted to get home to Puerto Rico.
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There were a couple of obstacles in their way. Right now, there are no scheduled air services out of Turks and Caicos. Plus, the family didn’t have anything but what they were carrying. The flight kept going to Philadelphia with their luggage in the hold. But working with the American Red Cross, Spirit Airlines quickly organized accommodation, clothing, and food.
After their 4 yr old daughter's medical emergency on a @SpiritAirlines flight from San Juan to PHL, a Puerto Rico family was stuck in Turks & Caicos. No passports & no flights due to Covid Travel Restrictions. Spirit got permission to send an empty plane to get them home. pic.twitter.com/CxbMsrDRlw
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) July 5, 2020
“We left all of our luggage on a flight to Philadelphia and didn’t have anything on us to spend the night, so they quickly helped us find a place to stay, clothes, and food for us,” said Miss Four’s Mom, Ana Desiree Rodriguez Sanchez.
Spirit Airlines lays on an empty plane
Then, when things had settled down with Miss Four, Spirit Airlines organized for an empty plane to go to Turks and Caicos and fly the family back to Puerto Rico. This is easier said than done as special permissions were needed. Adding a layer of complexity, the family did not have their passports with them. You don’t need a passport to fly between Puerto Rico and the United States. But you do need a passport to fly out of Turks and Caicos.
“We worked in collaboration with the family, our Spirit Airlines members, and the local governments in each city to help quickly facilitate their return flight back home,” said Andrea Baigorria, Spirit’s external communication manager to USA Today.
“We are very happy to have been able to help the Santiago Rodriguez family return home and offer them a sense of peace after a moment of anguish.”
This is all well and good, but Miss Four’s flying career may have peaked too early. She, along with her Mom and Dad, had the entire plane to themselves and wisely, elected to lounge in Spirit’s best Big Front Seats. Why wouldn’t you?
But Miss Four may not be so thrilled next time she goes somewhere with her parents. It will be back to crowded planes, queues, and ducking and weaving around the legs of adults – a sad state of affairs for a young lady who once had an entire plane to herself.
A smart PR move by Spirit Airlines
Rescuing stranded travelers, particularly children, is rolled gold PR for airlines. Delta makes a habit of it, swooping in to fly out travelers. They especially like flying out travelers left stranded by competitor airlines. But all’s fair in love and (the competition) wars. It is great to see Spirit Airlines getting on board. Sure, it is nice to help people out, but probably isn’t all altruism. The smart PR folks at Spirit Airlines know an opportunity when they see one.
But kudos nonetheless to Spirit Airlines. The American Red Cross also deserves a shoutout for looking after the family in Turks and Caicos.
Having returned home last week, safe and well, Ana Desiree Rodriguez Sanchez is grateful.
“I have no words to describe how thankful I am to the airline and the people of the island who were so good to us. The airline was so great to us, and we are so thankful.”