Spirit Airlines has never been known for its service; a quick Twitter search brings up comparisons like "Air Walmart" and "TRASH." But one reader sent us this horror story that almost seems too ridiculous to be true. She and her family missed their flight from LaGuardia to St. Thomas (with a stop in Ft. Lauderdale) yesterday because Spirit employees couldn't check people in fast enough. However, their bags made it on the plane, and are presumably enjoying the sun and warmth of St. Thomas while she and her family are still in New York. She writes:

Spirit had two employees at a check in counter with well over 100 people in line. We arrived at the airport 1.5 hrs before our domestic flight - traveling, with two children, ages 1 and 3. It was apparent that the check-in line was barely moving and that Spirit’s two, entirely cavalier employees were either incapable of, or unable to manage the sheer volume of passengers.

With an hour to go, then 45 mins, and finally 30 mins to go before departure - and despite repeated attempts to get the Spirit employees to try and move people along who may have been trying to make this flight to Fort Lauderdale, approximately 30 passengers remained un-ticketed. There was no manager or supervisor on hand and despite repeated attempts to have one come up to the counter to address the situation - no one showed up - and no announcements were made.

With about 15 mins to go, we were finally ticketed, and our luggage checked in. We tried to rush through security and finally arrived at the gate, just in time to be told that the gate had been closed. Due to no fault of ours - and the complete lack of Spirit Airlines’ resources and staff on hand at La Guardia - our vacation plans are now over - kaput. Try explaining that to a 3 year old.

What’s more, we were told that the next flight we could be booked on to St. Thomas would be on Dec. 26 - and that Spirit would not reimburse our tickets. The excuse we were given was that it was not Spirit’s employees’ fault that they were under-resourced at the airport. Explain that to the 25-or-so passengers who now have to scramble to make other plans for the Holidays.

One questions how this airline intends to remain in business. Also -isn’t it against security protocols to have a passenger’s bags fly without a passenger on board? After much debate, we were able to receive a refund for our flight - but we’ve just lost out on a week’s vacation - with nowhere to go but back home.

Spirit has also yet to inform her about the whereabouts of her family's luggage. We've contacted Spirit Airlines about the issue, though they made it pretty hard! The link under "How can I contact Spirit Airlines?" on their Help page was broken, and it took a fair amount of searching to find an email or a phone number anywhere on the site. There is also no information listed under "Delay/Cancellation by Spirit Airlines." We havent had that difficult an experience with an airline since that time we asked about Oceanic Airlines flight 815.