A large brawl broke out at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport between passengers and airline employees on Monday after Spirit Airlines canceled 11 flights.
Spirit, which has been roiled in a dispute with its pilots union, announced 11 cancellations and 26 delays at the airport after its pilots reportedly refused to fly because of the dispute.
Once the cancellations were announced, a number of passengers at the front ticket counter became angry, slamming their hands on the counter. At that point, the airline called in Broward County police deputies in order to restore order between passengers and employees.
Things got worse when travelers walked off of a flight that had been canceled and rushed to the ticket counter while dozens of already frustrated passengers were waiting in line. Video footage captured some of the chaos as deputies struggled with passengers.
The airline has filed a federal lawsuit against the pilots claiming that cancellations have been caused by pilot unavailability and also claims that the pilots’ union is orchestrating an unlawful slowdown of flights. The airline reportedly canceled 81 flights on Sunday alone, which affects about 17 percent of its scheduled flights for the day. Some 300 flights have been canceled over the past seven days.
Spirit spokesperson Paul Berry said:
“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. 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.”
The Airline Pilots Association — the pilots’ union — denied carrying out a slowdown in a statement to CNN, saying that “Rather, ALPA and the Spirit pilots are continuing to do everything possible to help restore the company’s operations, which have experienced significant problems over the past several days.”
At least three people were arrested as a result of the incident.
Watch videos of the incident below:
— Tj (@Tomas_Benavidez) May 9, 2017
— Brionka Halbert (@brionkahalbert) May 9, 2017