When the delay on his 90-minute flight stretched past the four-hour mark, David Rankin started tweeting to Spirit Airlines as he and other passengers grew restless.
“We're looking at the plane,” Rankin said by phone from a Spirit gate at the Philadelphia airport. “There are no pilots.”
Rankin, an investment manager from New Jersey, swore it would be his last time on the discount airline. “My wife won't let me book a flight on Spirit next time,” he said.
Spirit is one of a new breed of airline called ultra-low-cost carriers that also includes Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air. They have grown rapidly by luring travelers with...