Our Jewish Family Was Also Targeted on Spirit Airlines (2023)

Shmueli Milecki says his Orthodox Jewish family was also singled out by a flight attendant on a Spirit Airlines flight from Florida to New York. "It’s time you invest in diversity training," he wrote to Spirit CEO Ted Christie. Full Story

Dear Ted Christie (CEO of Spirit Airlines),

It’s time you invest in diversity training.

This is my story. We are Orthodox Jews. We were discriminated against by Spirit Airlines on Flight 604 FLL-LGA on 4/6/21.

I am a CPA. My wife is a special education teacher. We have five children under the age of eight. She is an American citizen and with Hungarian and Czechoslovakian heritage. I am American and Australian, but I am also by ancestry, Burmese, Iraqi, Polish and Russian. I am light-skinned; my Burmese-Iraqi great grandparents were dark-skinned. My wife’s great grandparents were killed by the Nazis for being Jewish. My great grandfathers were killed by the Soviets for running schools that taught about Judaism.

We do not believe in conspiracy theories. We stayed home for many months at the start of Covid-19. Wore masks out of the home. We have not been on vacation in over a year due to quarantining. We only caught Covid around January because of my wife’s job as a teacher, which was not essential enough to receive the vaccine earlier. We did not play games. We did not wait. We tested instantly and then and quarantined immediately to avoid spreading the disease.

Our vigilance did not save us from discrimination by Spirit.

Two hours into the flight, a male white flight attendant (and I believe there was only one FA to fit that description) came over to us and started hollering at us, “I’ve been watching you. You are playing games. You are passing around a bag of chips to trick us. I will report you and you will never be allowed to fly again.”

These were lies and vicious threats. Were we the only people eating? No. We were, however, the largest Orthodox family on the plane. Are we expected to starve a 5-year-old? What about a 3-year-old? What about a 1-year-old? Was this payback by the flight attendant for the embarrassment incurred by Spirit only the day before?

How did the flight attendant watch us for two hours if we were one of the last rows in the back and he spent most of the flight in front? He obviously couldn’t have seen my wife and I eat the chips because we are eating healthy and didn’t eat a single chip. Was it the cute five-year-old boy with a Yarmulkah passing a large bag of chips to his little three-year-old sister?

I had my mask on most of the flight. The flight attendant came over while I had my spirited one-year-old daughter on my lap and trying to get a cracker into my mouth. If you have young children, you would know it’s quite a difficult task to do on a plane even without putting on a mask between bites (not required by the FAA).

My wife had her mask on the entire time until a moment before the flight attendant came over and had barely gotten a crumb in her mouth before the public shaming. It was as if he was waiting for that exact moment.

According to the FAA, you are allowed to take off a mask to eat on a plane. There is also no maximum number of bites allowed during a flight. There is no “Jew family exception” to that rule unless you are flying Spirit.

In case your PR department asks, yes, we did buy a seat for the baby, and no, the baby did not want to sit in her seat so I could eat faster. Why? I don’t know. She can’t talk yet.

We Jews have been brought up to fear. My earliest memories include going to synagogue every morning at the age of six. After prayers, I would hear Mr. Gus Freiberg, an elderly congregant, speak about his suffering in the Nazi concentration camps. Such anguish. He would relive it every single morning, and I with him. Tears would run down his cheeks. Those loud and piercing cries were so terrifying and frightful that I could feel them shattering the heavens.

At this tender age of six, I was transported over forty years into the past and into the camps with him. I could feel myself watching loved ones stumbling slowly into the gas chambers, hot with fever from Typhus, hiding a tiny scrap of black bread, and standing amongst rows of my people to watch my fellow Jews being hung from the gallows.

It is this fear we feel again when we walk the streets of the USA. It is this fear that we teach our children. It’s the lack of tolerance by our politicians and leaders. It is a lack of understanding by a media who dismiss millennia of suffering by our people. It is this fear we feel when we walk onto Spirit Airlines.

As Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked, we must say, “never again!”

I will leave you off with a story.

The American author and social critic Harvey Swados met with the Grand Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson on a late Brooklyn night around 1962. During that meeting, he asked the Rebbe if it was his opinion “that the holocaust could possibly happen again”. The Grand Rebbe immediately replied in Yiddish, “Morgen in der frih (Tomorrow morning).”

Will you help us stop it?

Shmueli Milecki


Spirit sent the following reply:

Hi Shmueli,

My name is XXXX, and I am a Supervisor in the Guest Relations Department here at Spirit Airlines’ headquarters. Your concern was escalated to me, and I wanted to reach out as soon as possible.

Please note that I have reviewed your concerns, and we are looking into this now which may take some time. Each of our team members and contractors are expected to reflect our culture of treating all people with dignity and respect. Thank you in advance for bearing with me as we investigate the concerns you raised.

Guest Relations Supervisor – XXXX


Shmueli Milecki wrote back the following:


I appreciate you getting back to me and taking this seriously.

I believe the larger systemic issue is that many Jewish Orthodox passengers feel that there is an undercurrent of antisemitism within Spirit Airlines. While this cannot necessarily be proven in a court of law, it does exist, through implication and through association with what people might perceive Orthodox Jewish passengers to do. It may not be legal to use a discriminatory term, but it is somewhat legal to discriminate via implication or association. Although it might be specific team members, and I am sure it does not come from the top, it still needs to be dealt with.

As the incident occurred, I had to make the difficult decision. To continue arguing with the flight attendant and assert my rights; or be quiet, stop eating the crackers I had next to me, and put on my mask. Considering I did not wish to become the next internet viral video, I decided to be quiet. It is unfortunate that it was the passenger who had the common sense, and not the flight attendant who should have taken into consideration how a viral video would affect Spirit Airlines.

Although my previous letter discussed a specific incident, I would like to tell you that on the same flight you also had some great and professional flight attendants as well. My issue is not a flight attendant mistakenly telling me to pull up my mask while eating. I’m not perfect either. It’s the extremely disrespectful way it happened, as well as the accusatory tone that we were accused of trying to ‘trick’ the airline by passing around and eating from a large bag of chips (which both my wife and I did not even eat).

I believe the best way for Spirit to combat this would be through diversity training that includes learning about the Jewish population, culture and history.

I am happy to speak if you wish.

Shmueli Milecki


Why do people say not to fly spirit? ›

In some sense, Spirit's bad reputation is not without merit. The airline is rightly criticized for its misleading fee system, which shows you a low price — called a “bare fare” — but has a substantial catch: The price you see frequently includes only a small personal item and the flight ticket.

What happened on the Spirit Airlines flight? ›

Spirit Airlines Flight 259 landed at Jacksonville International Airport around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, after the crew reported a battery on fire in an overhead bin. The plane landed without incident and pulled up to the terminal before fire rescue teams went aboard the flight, Jacksonville Fire Rescue Capt.

Why do people bash Spirit Airlines? ›

Most people bash Spirit Airlines because it is known for its bare-bones, low-cost approach to air travel. With Spirit Airlines, customers don't get any extra frills or services like meals, extra legroom, or assigned seating, and instead are expected to pay for these amenities if needed.

Why Spirit Airlines has a bad reputation? ›

There are combinations of factors/ issues that have made Spirit Airlines a least-favorite airline for travel in the US. These include unreliable flight schedules (cancelations and delays), refund issues, hidden fees, cramped seats, and poor services.

What are the most complaints on Spirit Airlines? ›

Spirit Airlines

The budget airline received a whopping 637 complaints from customers, according to the DOT data. More than half of those issues (394) were due to flight problems, which include cancellations, delays, or any deviation from the planned schedule.

Is Spirit safe to fly right now? ›

Summary: While Spirit Airlines is known for offering incredibly cheap flights, many people have come to associate the low-cost carrier with poor-quality service and safety concerns. However, contrary to popular belief, flying Spirit Airlines is actually quite safe.

What airline took over Spirit Airlines? ›

New York-based JetBlue's acquisition of Spirit faced a high hurdle with regulators from the start, and the airline on Monday said it expected DOJ action this week.

Did JetBlue take over Spirit? ›

The departments of Justice and Transportation on Tuesday launched a two-pronged attack on JetBlue's $3.8 billion purchase of ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines — an aggressive effort intended to counter decades of airline industry consolidation and ensure Americans maintain access to cheaper fares.

Which US airline is the safest? ›

Delta Airlines

It has received multiple honors for its devotion to safety, including being named the “World's Most On-Time Airline” for several years in a row by FlightGlobal.

Can you bring food on Spirit Airlines? ›

Bring your own snacks: Spirit will charge you $1 to $10 for snacks and $1 to $15 for drinks. Save money by making your flight a BYOF (bring your own food) affair. They allow it. Book your own flights: Yes, Spirit will charge you for booking, especially groups.

Is it worth it to take Spirit Airlines? ›

Spirit Airlines is only worth it if you're really tight on your budget. You need to be flying to one of their destinations and wanting to travel very lightly to make its budget fares worth it. If you're planning on bringing extra luggage, it would be worth exploring other airlines to get you to where you want to go.

What airline is better than Spirit? ›

Spirit Airlines ranks No. 2 in this year's report. Delta is also the most reliable airline, because the carrier has the lowest overall rate of cancellations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boardings, WalletHub says.

Which airline has the best customer service? ›

Delta ranked as having the best customer satisfaction for its premium economy section. Despite airlines performing, passenger satisfaction is down 7 points in North America compared to last year, coming in at 791 on a 1,000-point scale.

Does Spirit cancel flights often? ›

Airlines With the Most Cancellations

Spirit Airlines had the most cancellations last week—2.07% of its flights. Frontier Airlines was right behind Spirit, with 1.87% of flights canceled. Here are the airlines with the most cancellations last week.

Which airline has the most issues? ›

U.S. travelers report that American Airlines is the most unreliable airline in the world when measured by the total flight problems and reported complaints in 2022. American is also the world's largest airline, so this finding may not surprise frequent flyers.

How do I file a complaint against Spirit Airlines? ›

For immediate assistance, please call us at 1-855-SAVE-555 (1-855-728-3555, or text us at 48763, or use 855-728-3555 on WhatsApp). Complete this form and an email will be sent to our Guest Relations Department.

Is Spirit Airlines in financial trouble? ›

Ultra-low-cost-carrier Spirit Airlines has reported a net loss of $112 million in operating income for the first quarter of 2023.

Are Spirit Airlines seats small? ›

Spirit Airlines' standard economy seats have 28 inches of seat pitch. Most airlines' economy class seats have 30 inches of seat pitch. Spirit Airlines' standard seats have tiny tray tables — you can't fit a laptop on them. However, Spirit's Big Front Seats guarantee an additional six inches of legroom.

Do you have to wear a mask on a plane Spirit Airlines? ›

Spirit Airlines

"We understand some Guests may want to continue wearing face coverings on flights, and that's perfectly fine under our optional policy," Spirit said.

Does spirit have first class? ›

Additionally, while you can pay more for a little extra legroom, there are no traditional premium economy, business class, or first class fares on Spirit Airlines.

Are Spirit Airlines old planes? ›

Spirit operates an all-Airbus Fit Fleet®. We have one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the U.S., adding a brand-new plane every month. The average age of our aircraft is just 5.6 years.

Why is JetBlue buying Spirit? ›

JetBlue said that buying Spirit would also help it better compete with the nation's largest airlines. A series of large deals that culminated a decade ago greatly increased the power of the big four airlines.

Does Spirit have a sister airline? ›

Spirit is not part of any airline alliance and doesn't have any partnerships with any other airlines.

Who tried to buy Spirit? ›

Denver-based Frontier tried to buy Spirit last year – the boards of both airlines agreed on a sale — but was outbid by New York-based JetBlue.

What are the 4 major airlines? ›

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the top ranked airlines based on 2022 domestic market share. Delta operates out of Atlanta, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta's hub, sees the most passenger traffic in the United States.

Who wanted to buy Spirit? ›

JetBlue won a bidding war with Frontier Airlines to buy Spirit for $3.8 billion last year.

Is Spirit a bad plane to fly? ›

But Spirit Airlines recently placed eighth out of 10 on TPG's 2021 best U.S. airlines list. The airline is notorious for long bag drop lines and poor communication during delays. Plus, you'll face more fees when flying Spirit than with most other U.S. airlines.

Is it safe to fly with Spirit? ›

Rest assured that Spirit planes have been reviewed and approved by the FAA. They are the official airway safety regulators from the US Department of Transportation. You can trust that an airline certified by the FAA (like Spirit) is safe to fly with.

Is Spirit still a bad airline? ›

Spirit Airlines is a budget airline, and as the many budget airline reviews we've seen goes, it's always a mixture of really good reviews and really bad ones. Recent customers have been dissatisfied with their service, despite the money they saved. Many customers have complained about the additional fees for bags.

What does it mean to fly Spirit? ›

Fly as a Spirit Animal

You are able to take advantage of opportunities as they come your way. You're also a hard worker, not afraid of getting your hands dirty. This is because you're incredibly resourceful and can make do with what you have.

What is the safest airline? ›

Top 10 safest airlines to fly on right now
  • Top 10 safest airlines to fly on right now. A rear view down the aisle of an airplane filled with passengers. ...
  • Hawaiian Airlines. ...
  • Delta Airlines. ...
  • Alaska Airlines. ...
  • American Airlines. ...
  • United Airlines. ...
  • International: Qatar Airways. ...
  • International: Qantas Airways.
May 25, 2023

How often do Spirit flights get Cancelled? ›

Airlines With the Most Cancellations

Spirit Airlines had the most cancellations last week—2.07% of its flights. Frontier Airlines was right behind Spirit, with 1.87% of flights canceled. Here are the airlines with the most cancellations last week.

Is a backpack free on Spirit? ›

Personal Items and Spirit. Spirit allows passengers one free personal item, such as a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack. Your personal item must be small enough to store under the seat in front of you. Spirit requires personal items not to exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches, including handles and wheels.

Can I bring a backpack and carry-on with Spirit? ›

You could take a backpack on Spirit Airlines for free as your personal item, provided the measurements of the backpack do not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches. If it is larger than these measurements you would incur a fee for standard carry-on with a maximum size allowance of 22 x 18 x 10 inches.

Can you bring your own food and drink on Spirit Airlines? ›

Bring your own snacks: Spirit will charge you $1 to $10 for snacks and $1 to $15 for drinks. Save money by making your flight a BYOF (bring your own food) affair.

What airline took over Spirit? ›

New York-based JetBlue's acquisition of Spirit faced a high hurdle with regulators from the start, and the airline on Monday said it expected DOJ action this week.

Do Spirit planes have TVs? ›

Spirit flights don't have TVs or in-flight entertainment options for your laptop or mobile devices. According to the airline's website, the $5.99 in-flight Wifi option is fast enough to stream movies online — but your best bet is to download movies and shows beforehand.

What is a fly in the Bible? ›

Fly [N] Heb. zebub, (Eccl 10:1 ; Isaiah 7:18 ). This fly was so grievous a pest that the Phoenicians invoked against it the aid of their god Baal-zebub (q.v.). The prophet ( Isaiah 7:18 ) alludes to some poisonous fly which was believed to be found on the confines of Egypt, and which would be called by the Lord.

Why do flies circle around your head? ›

Although mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, we know the insect sensory system also helps find exposed skin. Since the skin near our faces is often exposed, that's one reason flies are always buzzing around your face and hands.

Why do flies land on you? ›

What attracts flies to sit on humans? Flies are attracted to carbon dioxide which human beings breathe out. Flies feed on dead cells and open wounds. Oily hair is an attractant.


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