Yet again, cellphone video has captured a chaotic slice of air travel — this time, on the ground.
Anger and confusion boiled over at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Monday night as nine Spirit Airlines flights were canceled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, CBS affiliate WFOR News reported.
What followed was chaos as frustrated passengers clashed with Spirit employees, and law enforcement officers tried to maintain order.
Video from the airport showed crowds clustered around Spirit Airlines ticket counters, with people pushing, screaming and cursing.
At one point in one of the videos, the stanchions holding in the line were knocked over, and a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy was shoved to the ground. Sheriff’s deputies detained several passengers and charged them with disorderly conduct, Fox News affiliate WSVN reported.
“All of a sudden, one particular flight got canceled, and a mob ensued up here at the front counter, in front of everyone else who had been waiting in line,” passenger Paul Smith told the station.
Another passenger told the station that Spirit employees “couldn’t handle what was going on, so they called in for the police.”
The flight cancellations were reportedly the result of a legal dispute between the budget airline and the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA).
In a statement to The Washington Post, Spirit Airlines blamed its pilots for the cancellations and the resulting chaos.
About 300 Spirit Airlines flights have been canceled in the past week, according to CNN.
“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport,” Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said in a statement. “This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers, by canceling multiple flights across our network. These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members.”