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Spirit Airlines has 17% profit margin

It may be no surprise that the U.S.-based airline that has drawn the most complaints per passengers over the past five years is Spirit Airlines. After all, the Florida-based carrier is known for supertight seating and dozens of fees, including charges for soft drinks and carry-on bags.

But the executives at the ultralow-cost carrier are probably not sweating the study results, because another report released last month said Spirit also had racked up the highest profit margin of any U.S. carrier in 2013.­

"The Unfriendly Skies," a report by the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, found that Spirit had the highest complaint rate from 2009 to 2013. It showed that Spirit had 9.44 complaints per 100,000 passengers in 2013, up from 6.75 complaints per 100,000 fliers in 2009.

Spirit’s complaint rates were more than three times higher than the second-place airline each year, the report said.

But a report by Airline Weekly magazine gave Spirit reason to smile: Spirit had the highest profit margin (17 percent) of any U.S. airline, compared with 9 percent for Delta and 8 percent for both Southwest and American Airlines.

It’s clear that Spirit was not bothered by its complaint rate, because the airline responded to the report with a one-day promotion, boasting that only 0.01 percent of its passengers filed complaints last year.

"That’s right, over 99.99 percent of our customers did not file a complaint with the Department of Transportation in 2013," the airline said in its promotion statement.


Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

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