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Spirit Airlines fined $100,000 over disabled passengers' complaints

January 27, 2012|By Hugo Martin

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Florida-based Spirit Airlines $100,000 Friday for failing to appropriately keep track of and respond to complaints about its treatment of passengers with disabilities.

Under federal rules, airlines must sort, categorize and respond in writing to all complaints regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.

“Our rules on how airlines handle disability-related complaints are designed to help us ensure that passengers with disabilities are treated fairly when they fly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to make sure carriers comply with our disability rules and take enforcement action when they do not.”

In an inspection of Spirit's corporate headquarters in Miramar, Fla., the federal Aviation Enforcement Office found that the carrier failed to adequately categorize and account for all disability-related complaints, resulting in an undercount of such complaints in the airline's 2009 annual report to the Department of Transportation.

In addition, the agency said Spirit failed to adequately respond to "a vast majority of the disability-related complaints it received in 2009 and 2010."

A spokeswoman for Spirit declined to comment on the fine.

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