Spirit Airlines has rendered an apology to a passenger after surveillance footage showed workers under a vendor contract removing items from his carry-on bag before dumping his other possessions in a trash can.
According to CBS News, the footage also shows a Spirit Airlines gate agent pocketing some of Keyonne Brooks’ items. The February 19 incident happened at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after Brooks got into an argument at the gate before boarding his flight.
The aggrieved passenger was returning to Los Angeles after attending a funeral. During the argument at the gate, Brooks had requested to speak with a manager before proceeding to board the plane but forgot his carry-on bag at the ticket counter.
After struggling to recover his bag after filing a lost-and-found claim, Brooks demanded security footage through a public records request. The airport eventually provided him with footage of the location he left his bag.
“She was dumping it out, maliciously,” Brooks said in reference to the worker’s actions. He also said he decided to take action because he “had a gut feeling that something went wrong.”
In the video, a Spirit Airlines worker is seen picking up Brooks’ bag and taking it to the back of the counter. She is later seen searching through the bag after the passengers boarded the plane.
“I did notice that she was stuffing some things in her pocket. I don’t know if that was my jewelry or my crystals,” Brooks said, adding that bag contained items including jewelry and life-saving medication.
The video also shows the worker taking Brooks’ bag to a trash can before other colleagues join her. The worker is seen opening the medicine and dumping its content in the trash can. Her colleague is also seen laughing and seemingly recording what is happening. The gate agent ultimately dumps Brooks’ bag and his other items in the trash can.
“My heart just sunk because for instance there was a family heirloom in there. If they don’t find the garbage bag with my contents, then I’ll never get that back,” Brooks said.
Spirit refunded Brooks’ flight ticket after he got in touch with the company and sent them the video, CBS News reported. But he does not believe this is the first time that an incident of such nature has occurred.
“If it happened to me and I got the video footage, how many other people has this happened to?” he questioned.
Spirit released a statement saying an investigation into the incident has since been launched. The airline also said the vendor has suspended the contract workers, adding that it is quickly processing compensation for the items that were in Brooks’ bag. But Brooks said the vendor has asked him to provide receipts – noting that there is none for his family heirlooms and jewelry.
“We are aware of this matter, and our vendor suspended four of their employees at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) pending an investigation into the matter,” Spirit said in the statement.
“Spirit Airlines is committed to treating all Guests with respect and delivering high-quality service, and we will take appropriate action as necessary following the completion of the vendor’s investigation.”
The airline added: “Spirit has already issued a refund for the flight on February 23, and the vendor is expediting the compensation for the items.”