It’s not often you hear of something like this — Spirit Airlines has banned a passenger over what he encouraged others to do through social media.
TikToker promotes free carry-on scam
Spirit Airlines is as low cost as airlines in the US get, and the carrier charges extra for just about everything, including carry-ons. Well, TikToker @robkallday posted a TikTok in which he shares a “trick” to getting a free carry-on when flying Spirit Airlines:
- Your boarding pass lists whether you’re entitled to a carry-on or not (based on whether or not you paid for it)
- It’s easy enough to edit just about any document (including a boarding pass) using some apps, making it easy to change the carry-on number from zero to one
- The TikToker insists that he didn’t actually adjust this on his boarding pass, and that his bag fit without this “trick” (of course we don’t know if that’s true or not)
Now, certainly this is a scam, and it’s not something one should do.
That being said, this advice also isn’t exactly specific to getting a Spirit Airlines carry-on:
- You could similarly modify a boarding pass from just about any airline to indicate that you should receive priority boarding, etc.
- Now, keep in mind that while you might be able to get away with it, if an agent looks in the computer system they can still see how things should be, rather than how you’ve modified them
Spirit Airlines banned this guy for two years
In a follow-up video, the TikToker shared a letter that he received from Spirit Airlines, dated just under a week after his flight date. The letter essentially bans him from flying Spirit Airlines, though the airline gives him the opportunity to appeal the decision in two years.
Here’s what the letter says:
As you know, you created a video on the social media platform “TikTok” showing users how to manipulate a Spirit Airlines boarding pass and fraudulently indicate they paid for a carry-on bag to the financial detriment of Spirit Airlines. Additionally, as evidenced in the video’s comments, you have also been advising users specifically on what cell phone application they should download to carry out the scam.
In light of this egregious misconduct, Spirit Airlines has determined that you are no longer permitted to fly with us, and we have placed you on a list for that purpose. You are also barred from entering Spirit’s facilities. If you seek to circumvent this, any ticket that you purchase will be forfeited without a refund. If you come into our facilities, we will report that trespass to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
Should you wish to travel on Spirit Airlines again in the future, after the passage of at least two years from the date of this letter, you may request that we revisit the foregoing restrictions. You may do so only by a letter explaining why we should reconsider the restriction and giving unequivocal assurances that you will conduct yourself appropriately in the future. The foregoing is extended solely as a courtesy and not as a right and we may determine not to lift the restrictions in our absolute discretion.
It’s not often that you see someone banned from an airline for something that didn’t even happen onboard, or involve the ticket of a passenger. That being said, I think Spirit is totally justified with this — the airline makes money largely through ancillary fees, and there’s no doubt that people will try to circumvent these fees with the trick presented.
I do think the one general challenge with social media is the fine line between comedy and exposing a scam — what should be taken as humor, and what should be taken at face value?
While I do think the intent of the video was probably to be funny and lighthearted, there’s no denying that this could impact Spirit Airlines’ bottom line.
What do you make of this situation? Was Spirit Airlines in the right for what it did?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)