Spirit Airlines Delays Leave Hundreds of Passengers Stranded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Airline says engine failure on aircraft last week led to delays at airport

Delays of Spirit Airlines flights were down to about two hours at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Thursday afternoon, after hundreds of angry passengers were left stranded at the airport overnight.

Flight 174, scheduled to take off for New York at 4:08 p.m., had its departure delayed until 6 p.m. Flight 268, scheduled to depart for Atlantic City at 8:15 p.m., was delayed by about an hour and a half.

The service wasn't what new customer Andrews Harsinski had hoped for. He faced a one-hour delay.

"It's the first time I'm using them and probably the last based on the experience thus far," he said.

Three other Thursday night flights remained on time.

Five flights were delayed beginning around 8 p.m. Wednesday and into the early hours of Thursday. More flights, scheduled to leave after 7 a.m. Thursday, were also listed as delayed.

The delays included flights to New York, Atlantic City, Denver, Orlando and Tampa.

Airline officials said the flights were delayed following engine failure on an aircraft last week. Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said the Miramar-based airline is completing "a proactive and voluntary check'' on aircraft as a precautionary measure following the engine failure.

Pinson said it takes about 45 minutes to check each aircraft but some flights are "experiencing significant delays." The work was due to be finished Thursday morning.

"We apologize for these delays. We are working diligently to get our customers where they need to go as quickly as possible," Pinson said in a statement.

Broward Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the terminal after some upset passengers became unruly. No arrests were made.

Passenger Adam Wylie, who was traveling to New York, said they were loaded onto a plane and taken off.

"People were going crazy on the plane, shouting and stuff," Wylie said. "I think people were just frustrated."

"It was quite crazy, I was scared that a riot was going to happen on our plane, we were waiting on the tarmac for over an hour," passenger Brianna Niemann said. "One of the passengers on the back of the plane started screaming, it was kind of getting out of hand."

Several passengers spent the night sleeping in chairs or on the floor of the airport, unhappy with what they say was a lack of communication and options from the airline.

"They didn't really offer us much in terms of options so, they wouldn't put us up in a hotel or anything like that, so it's very frustrating," Wylie said.

"If Spirit Airlines had told us that there was a problem, great, and that we're gonna be here for five hours, maybe some of us could do some other arrangements, to take some other kind of transportation, go back home," said Tonya Elizabeth, who was heading to Tampa.

Some passengers were stuck at the airport for as long as 10 hours.

For information on flight delays, click here.

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