Airline counter, TSA checkpoint close before flight

Published On: Jan 24 2013 04:58:35 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 24 2013 06:02:06 PM CST
spirit airlines ticket counter
HOUSTON -

Vacations, weddings and an anniversary trip were all canceled or delayed by one problem with a major airline at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Passengers who paid for a flight they didn't get to take called KPRC Local 2 when they couldn't get their money back.

The trip to Las Vegas was supposed to be a celebration for Mike and Wanda Boswell's 43rd wedding anniversary. Eleven members of the Khalil family were headed to a family wedding. Both parties, 15 people in all, bought tickets on Spirit Airlines. Bad weather in Chicago delayed the flight from 10:30 p.m. until 2 a.m..

"We got there way before midnight," explained Jamal Khalil.

But he said when passengers showed up to check in and check bags, the Spirit ticket counter was empty. The Transportation Safety Administration checkpoint was closed.

"Spirit Airlines was a ghost town," said Mike Boswell. "I mean, there was nobody."

Passengers stuck at the counter called Spirit's customer service number.

"I was on the phone. My brother was on the phone. There were about 15 people on the phone at the same time," recalled Mia Khalil.

All of them got the same answer.

"You're no-shows," said Boswell, repeating what Spirit agents told him.

With no way to check bags or get through security, the plane came and left without them.

"The only thing we could do is wait for the ticket counter to open again," said Jamal Khalil.

Follow up letters and emails got no results. In one email to the Boswells, a Spirit representative wrote: "If a customer does not show up for a flight, or does not board the aircraft for any reason, the flight is automatically cancelled" and "the airfare is non-refundable."

"It was a definitive no," said Khalil. "'You were a "no-show. You forfeited the ticket.'"

When KPRC Local 2 called, a Spirit Airlines representative emailed to say they're reimbursing the Boswell and Khalil families and giving them future flight credits.

"We're glad that you got involved," Boswell said.

The families have not yet received their refunds, but KPRC Local 2 will follow up and make sure that happens.