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Main Character of the Week: Spirit Airlines traveler who went through an emergency landing

The stories about Spirit Airlines get more absurd every day.


Ramon Ramirez


Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like the guy campaigning to be a WNBA trophy husband; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.

Here’s the 
Trending team’s main character of the week.

It’s the Spirit Airlines traveler who went through an emergency landing and posted about it.

As citizens of the internet focus their attention on summer travel, they plan with more conventional wisdom than ever thanks to American social media. Carnival Cruise vacays will be rowdy. Airbnbs will be booby-trapped. You can get free Cottonelle toilet paper from Marriotts you aren’t staying at. You can always crash a Hampton Inn breakfast buffet. Flight attendants won’t let you on if you seem too drunk. American Airlines passengers say the airline has been on a cold streak of perpetually delaying flights.

Then there is Spirit. The airline is known for being the Megabus of the skies: It’ll get budget-conscious travelers to their destination 7 times out of 10.

But recently, a flight out of Montego Bay, Jamaica to Florida resulted in an emergency landing. And the immediate aftermath of the scene, as told by the passengers via social media, proved sobering.

You, the American news consumer, have no doubt heard the phrase before. And on TV it’s usually like “The Delta flight had a malfunction and had to make an emergency landing 20 minutes in. No one aboard died.” And you think nothing of it and resume knitting.

Yet here Spirit customers didn’t mince words about the harshness of their experience: “People screaming, people over here praying, I’m crying like h*** because I literally thought I was going to die,” a passenger, Will, recounted via viral TikTok.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot said they’d have to go back to Montego Bay, according to accounts. Shortly after that, the pilot changed his tune and used the phrase “please prepare for an emergency water landing” and everyone understandably freaked out while scrambling to put on their life jackets.

“When people tell you about Spirit Airlines, they telling you for a f***ing reason,” Will, who said his life jacket broke as he tried to fasten it on his person, continued. “Do not travel Spirit Airlines, especially international. That was the worst f***ing experience of my life, my most near-death experience.”

Another Spirit traveler aboard the same flight said that her subsequent flight back to the U.S. had problems too. And then she only got a $50 voucher for her near-death troubles.

The story itself was at first localized in the Jamaican press before viral videos elevated its profile to the likes of USA Today and CNN two days later.

To this point, Spirit viral news has been about World Star-esque tomfoolery such as its employees allegedly stealing customers’ designer bags. It’s been said that flying Spirit is a “humbling” experience. And when they cancel your flight, the hotel vouchers apparently can be hit-or-miss.

At least the guy who had to wait onboard a Spirit flight for seven hours and posted about it eventually got to his destination.

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