Spirit CEO addresses low marks for customer satisfaction

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 20, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the worst, that is where you will find Spirit Airlines sitting in a new customer satisfaction survey.

But CEO Ben Baldanza says there's a reason for that.

Hey, Ben, good to have you. And I admire you for coming on in the face of this.

But what do you make of this and being obviously the worst assessed airline? What do you think?

BEN BALDANZA, CEO, SPIRIT AIRLINES: Well, it's great to see you again, Neil. And, again, this is a case of another one of these surveys that misses the whole point of surveying, which is the number one thing customers care about when you survey them is the price they pay for their ticket. And this survey didn't even talk about the price of the ticket. Neil, it's basically that they told you that a Tesla is a better car than a Volt, but forgot to tell you it costs about five times as much.

CAVUTO: All right, but I think what they're saying in this is that they feel you are nickel-and-diming them to death. Extra legroom going to cost you, if you have another bag, it's going to cost you, yadda, yadda, yadda, that you do it too much.

What do you say?

BALDANZA: Well, first of all, how do you nickel-and-dime when our average fare is only about $80? It's hard to nickel-and-dime. It's easy when you pay hundreds of dollars. You get nickel-and-dimed. But it's only $80.


CAVUTO: I think that is only for people who fly nude and have no luggage.


BALDANZA: No. They get take an under-seat luggage for that.

But the other thing is that DOT data, Neil, show that the total price customers pay on Spirit is less than they pay on other airlines after they pay those all those extra -- those optional charges. So, in total, they are saving money.


CAVUTO: Then you have got a communications problem, young man. You have got to get the word out then. They are obviously not getting it. And this is going to start a bad reputation thing. You don't want that. What are you going to do?

BALDANZA: Well, our customers are understanding it more and more.

If you go to Spirit.com, you will see all kinds of education. We see our customers all the time tell us they understand it more. But a lot of these surveys are just behind the times. And they think customer service is things like legroom and whether or not you get a hot meal.

They don't think about whether or not you're getting to your destination for the lowest price. And yet that's what customers care about.

CAVUTO: Well, how are you going to win them over? You have a very loyal core customer base. No one denies that. But if you don't start dealing with this, you know how the media goes. They are not going to let go.

BALDANZA: Well, the way we deal with it is just by being as transparent as we can. We're very transparent with our fares and we're very transparent with our business model. And we want customers to know exactly what they get.

CAVUTO: They want to stick you in that overhead bin, Ben. They want to stick you in that overhead bin and lock it.


BALDANZA: Yes. But then they're going to pay just a lot more for their tickets.

Sure, you can get more legroom on another airline and pay $50 more. You can get a cushier seat on another airline and pay $100 more. But wouldn't you rather have the money in your pocket when you land and spend it on a nice meal, Neil?

CAVUTO: All right.

And, by the way, if they stick you in the bin, there's no room for your luggage.


CAVUTO: Ben, thank you very, very much. We admire you coming on and addressing this.

Ben Baldanza of Spirit Airlines.

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