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Why Low-Cost Carrier Spirit Airlines is a Growing Competitor

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Does an airline need to compete in comfort or cost? That seems to be the question brought on by the growth of Spirit Airlines. Last year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) logged more complaints about Spirit than any other airline. The airline also ranked at the bottom of a Consumer Reports customer service survey. At the same time, Spirit  planes are full and its load factor is actually the highest in the industry.

You might think of Spirit as the airline define by fees–there are fees for checked and carry-on bags, fees for booking on the phone and online, and even a $2 Department of Transportation Unintended Consequences fee. However, Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza is working to retrain the public to think of the airline in terms of efficiency of price. No only are Spirit airfares often the lowest in the industry, but they range between 20 to 25 percent below their closest competitor.

Peter joined Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza at the airport and on the plane to hear from the CEO about how the airline’s low-cost, no-frills business model is taking off.

Then, watch as Peter and Charlie Rose ask Baldanza the tough questions. Is it possible for a low-cost carrier to earn customer satisfaction? And do poor customer satisfaction rankings mean poor customer service?

Read the full transcript of Peter’s conversation with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza with An Airline for the 99 Percent: Ben Baldanza Speaks Out.

For more information about Spirit, check out:

By Peter Greenberg for CBS News