Travelers will check in for Spirit Airlines flight at Orlando International Airport on Friday before Memorial Day.
Paul Hennessy | Lightrocket | Getty Images
JetBlue’s surprise offer of $ 3.6 billion in cash for Spirit threatens Frontier’s plan to merge with Frontier into a discounted airline. It is also a threat to one of the favorite sources of material for comedians.
“It’s a bit of a mess for me. If it’s not Ghost anymore, who are we going to make fun of?” Jimmy Kimmel joked on Wednesday in his “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” monologue. “Attention, Allegiant. You’re on board.”
The New York-based JetBlue wants to absorb the Florida-based Spirit and change the light yellow Spirit aircraft, which have non-tilting seats, to match the JetBlue jets, which offer more spacious seating, back screens and free refreshments.
The lowest airfare and fees for everything, including Spirit’s selection of seats and hand luggage, have provided comedians with years of food and have become a popular reference for air travel. Large airlines have taken the example of discounts with basic economic fares, which do not involve the choice of seats in advance and force passengers to board last.
Last year, Spirit accounted for almost 5% of passengers carried by American airlines. Nevertheless, it was mentioned 40 times in night talks in 2021, which represents 20% of the total number of airline mentions in these programs, according to an analysis carried out for the airline, which CNBC saw.
Kimmel said on Wednesday that JetBlue wants to buy Spirit for $ 3.6 billion “plus $ 55 extra for hand luggage.”
“Tonight Show” moderator Jimmy Fallon also quoted JetBlue’s offer in Wednesday’s monologue. “Right now, Spirit is saying, ‘Boys, we should open a bank account. I think it’s time.'”
“You must have rough skin”
No airline has been left unscathed by the attention of night shows. Spirit’s analysis showed that the American had 77 mentions last year, while the Southwest 50 and Delta had 34. There are also countless separate clips and memes that make fun of airlines and air travel.
“Every airline has a story at some point that becomes a joke on a show,” said Ross Feinstein, a former spokesman for American Airlines and the Office of Transportation Safety. “You have to have rough skin to work in the aviation industry.”
According to reports that a man who tried to get an opossum on board a JetBlue at the end of 2019, co-moderator of “Night Night Live” Colin Jost said in the “Weekend Update” segment: “while Spirit Airlines is what will fall when you need an oxygen mask. “
Spirit said that “unlike late night talks, our airline aims to provide guests with an excellent experience with affordable fares that allow them to go further and discover more than ever before.”
She said she had addressed the show before and was unlucky with the answer.
Spirit said he understood that airlines were the target, “because air travel jokes are constantly laughing,” adding: “We promise that opossums will never jump out of the counter.”
Spirit has made progress in recent years in improving accuracy, and last year ranked sixth among U.S. airlines, above JetBlue ninth, according to the Department of Transportation. In the years before the pandemic, the number of complaints also decreased. She has registered Disney Institute staff to improve customer service.
In 2019, Spirit unveiled new curved seats, which he says were designed to give passengers more personal space, but still did not escape ridicule from the night hosts.
“Congratulations, Spirit. We criticize a lot of them on the show, but this is a big improvement over their old seats, which were just a dirty couch they found on the street,” Trevor Noah said in the December 2019 episode of The Daily.
Representatives Kimmel, Fallon, Noah and “Saturday Night Live” did not respond immediately to the comment.
The pandemic was not easy. Staff shortages and technical problems forced Spirit to cancel more than 2,800 flights in late July and early August 2021, a debacle that cost him several $ 50 million. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines faced a similar problem in the fall.
The problems increased the number of Spirit passenger complaints at the Department of Transportation to 11.45 per 100,000 passengers, which is most U.S. airlines, while the DOT recorded 6.38 for JetBlue and 5.78 for Frontier.
Spirit said it was considering a “junk” offer from JetBlue. The agreement, like the planned merger of Frontier and Spirit, would have to go through an assembly with the regulators at a time when President Joe Biden entrusted his administration with competition control. Earlier this year, Frontier and Spirit said they had not yet decided which airline brand would last.
That still didn’t stop the comedians from digging into the Spirit.
JetBlue has “a real bathroom instead of a bucket that everyone walks around,” Kimmel said on Wednesday.
Spirit told CNBC that he welcomed all night hosts and their families to fly the airline.
“The Roots might even tend to write a love song about us after they fly Spirit!” wrote the airline referring to the home band for “The Tonight Show”.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal broadcasts “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live.”