I have recently run into a couple of stories that reaffirm my faith in the human race.  First was the account of the bystander who jumped into the Gulf of Mexico to save a drowning bear.  Then I came across this story of a tight-fisted airline that came to the aid of a little girl.

On June 30, the Santiago Rodriguez family was flying from San Juan, PR (SJU) to Philadelphia, PA (PHL) on Spirit Airlines Flight NK3216 when their four-year-old daughter experienced a medical emergency.   Flight attendants administered oxygen but determined that more extensive medical assistance was necessary immediately.

Spirit A320. WingsJournal photo

The flight diverted to the nearest location with suitable medical facilities which was at Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (PLS).  Thankfully, with treatment, the little girl  recovered quickly.


But unexpected medical bills and interrupted travel weren’t the family’s biggest problems.  There are currently no flights out of Providenciales because Turks & Caicos remains closed to visitors as a Covid-19 precaution, and the family was not traveling with passports.  Therefore they lacked the proper documentation to enter a foreign country or to return to the U.S.

They were not carrying passports because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.  U.S. citizens do not need passports for non-stop flights between San Juan and Philadelphia.  The family could have been stuck in Turks & Caicos, and they were without their luggage which continued on to Philadelphia.

Spirit Airlines did not abandon the Rodriguez family.  It helped to secure lodging, food and clothing for what turned out to be a short stay.  Spirit even worked with the authorities to obtain permission for the family to leave Turks & Caicos and return to San Juan without passports.  Spirit flew an empty A320 from Ft. Lauderdale to Providenciales to pick up the family and return them to San Juan.  It even organized a welcome home party at SJU.

Take a look at this short, uplifting video describing the events.

Spirit Airlines is an American ultra-low-cost carrier headquartered in Miramar, Florida in the Miami metropolitan area. It is the eighth largest commercial airline in North America.  Spirit operates scheduled flights throughout the United States and in the Caribbean and Latin America.  

Overall Impression

Low-cost airlines are famous for nickel-and-diming passengers for everything.  Spirit  even charges for water.  So an extremely generous response to a situation that was not even its fault is quite surprising.  I’ve never flown Spirit, but this story makes me think I should give it a try.  Paying extra for The Big Front Seat, a standard domestic first-class seat with more legroom but no first-class amenities, looks tempting.