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Spirit Airlines Is Actually Good Image Credit: Money
Spirit Airlines Is Actually Good Image Credit: Money

Spirit Airlines Is Actually … Good?

Why the budget carrier deserves a second look.

Shaina Mishkin

IF YOU’VE COUNTED Spirit out as a dependable airline, now might be the time to reconsider.

The budget airline was the most improved carrier in MONEY’s Best in Travel ranking this year—thanks, in large part, to notable improvements in reliability between 2017 and 2018.

Of the eight major domestic airlines MONEY ranked, Spirit saw the most improvement in performance compared with the previous year, according to flight data from the Department of Transportation. Between January 2018 and October 2018, 81% of Spirit’s flights arrived at their destinations on time, up from 76% through the same time period in 2017. Only 1.1% of Spirit’s flights were canceled—a big difference from its 3.8% cancellation rate the year prior.

What accounts for this change?

It’s not necessarily a fluke. In fact, the airline’s performance has been improving steadily since 2016, when former board member Robert Fornaro became chief executive and made punctuality a priority, according to the Miami Herald. In December 2018, former CFO Ted Christie took over from Fornaro, telling CNBC that Spirit was all about being a “high-quality low-fare airline.”

Admittedly, Spirit did have room for improvement. The airline had the highest percentage of canceled flights and among the greatest share of delays in the first three quarters of 2017.

But Spirit didn’t only beat its prior performance—it


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