Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Torn about Spirit Airlines' Decision

If you are unaware of what my title refers to, here is a link for you to read & watch a little bit about the issue. A quick summary would be that Spirit Airlines (an airline I've honestly never heard of) decided to enforce its NO REFUNDS policy when Mr. Jerry Meekins (a 76 year old Vietnam veteran) requested a refund of the $179 plane ticket he had purchased two weeks prior. Mr. Meekins requested the refund after his doctor told him not to fly because of his deteriorating health (Mr. Meekins has terminal esophageal cancer).

Before I explain why I am torn about this situation, let me say that I have the utmost respect for anyone who has served in the United States' armed forces. The sacrifices they and their families make to defend the values this country was founded on are enormous and can never be compensated for.

That being said, I wonder if there would be such a brew-ha-ha over this if Mr. Meekins wasn't a veteran. How would people feel if he was an ex-con, a dead beat dad, or a 20-something kid who has never had a job and lives in his parent's basement? Would the outrage people are feeling be as strong if Mr. Meekins weren't terminally ill? These are just some of the questions I have been asking myself since first hearing about this situation.

As a person who gets to enforce a "No Refunds" policy, I totally understand the airline's stance. Once you make an exception for one person it opens the door for having to make an exception for every person. In order to be fair you can't take it on a case by case basis (which is what Mr. Meekins has stated he wants to the airline to change their policy to), because everyone's situation is special and unique and deserving. Where would you draw the line, and how soon would that "line" become the basis for lawsuits of favoritism or special treatment?

Now here's where I'm torn. I actually have a heart. Anytime somebody calls me to ask for an exception to our No Refund policy because of their unique situation (which, sadly, are not actually so unique), my heart breaks a bit because I have to tell them no. Sometimes, the situations they describe are achingly familiar because I've been through them myself, which makes it even more difficult.

Anyway, I'm torn over this. While I certainly wish Spirit Airlines could have given Mr. Meekins a refund, I feel like the company has now been backed into a corner which leaves them little room to handle this situation more compassionately, without feeding into the popular belief that if a person makes a big enough stink they can get whatever they want (which is rant for another time).

And now you can all hate me. Just keep it civil in the comments, because if you get to "hateful" TheHusband will start to rule them with an iron fist (and by that I mean moderating the comments with the "ban-hammer").
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