MIAMI, Fla.(CBSNewYork) — It was a long night for Spirit Airlines passengers in Miami. Hundreds of them were stranded after voluntary engine inspections grounded flights and delayed take-offs.
Some planes were stuck on the tarmac for several hours and tempers began to flare. one man was even removed from a flight after he vocalized his frustration, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“He started screaming, ‘Spirit let’s get some refunds or get some free liquor, this is outrageous,’ and other people were joining in, getting out of hand,” Brianna Niemann said.
A scare last week prompted the voluntary engine inspections that delayed hundreds of passengers on Thursday morning. The delays set off tempers and grounded several flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Many of the passengers slept on the terminal floor and chairs overnight, others lost their cool, and one had to be escorted away.
More than six flights were still delayed on Thursday morning, according to Spirit terminal screens. The affected flights had destinations that included New York, Atlantic City, Denver, and Tampa.
“It has been a disaster,” passenger Raphael Hernandez said.
A spokeswoman for the Mirimar based airline apologized but said that the inspections were necessary.
“Following the engine failure on one of our aircraft last week, and after reviewing routine maintenance procedures, we are completing a proactive and voluntary check on our aircraft engines overnight as a precautionary measure,” Misty Pinson said in an email to the Miami Herald.
Pinson was referring to an Atlanta bound Spirit plane that experienced engine failure last week and had to return to the Dallas airport where the jet landed safely, but passengers did hear a loud boom in the air.
The inspections are designed to take 45 minutes, Pinson said. However, some passengers were delayed for more than eight hours. The delays frayed nerves and prompted shouting.
“It was kind of getting our of hand,” Niemann said.
Among passenger complaints were a $7 voucher given for food, a terminal that reportedly resembled a homeless shelter, and luggage that was not released to passengers who wanted to make new travel arrangements.
CBS 2’s Schneider spoke with frustrated New Yorkers at La Guardia airport as they waited to pick up friends and family.
East New York resident Ruth Menoud was anxious to see her son.
“I was waiting for a long time. I called this morning and they told me it was some system upgrade,” she said, “I asked why they were doing it at that time as opposed to prior to boarding or prior to passengers arriving there. They couldn’t give me an exact reason.”
Pinson added that each aircraft would be returned to service as soon as the check was completed.
“We are working diligently to get our customers where they need to go as quickly as possible,” she said, “We expect all checks to be completed this morning. As always, the safety of our customers is our number one priority.”
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