Spirit Airlines CEO: We're the McDonald's of airlines

(CBS News) Following a last-place ranking in the Consumer Reports airline survey ranking, Spirit Airlines chief executive officer Ben Baldanza compared his company to fast food giant McDonald's, saying his customers -- like those who go to the dining chain -- know what they're getting.

Baldanza said on "CBS This Morning," "You know, no one goes into McDonald's and is surprised they don't see filet mignon on the menu. Right?

"So when they come to Spirit, they know what they're getting," he said. "They know they're getting a lower total price than they'll get anywhere else. They know the seat might be a little bit tighter. They know they're going to have to bring their own things to eat on-board. So they love that."

Watch CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg's segment on Spirit Airlines in the video below.

PeterGreenberg.com: An Airline for the 99 Percent: Spirit Airline CEO Speaks Out

Baldanza cited consistently full flights that, he said, are a result of low fares. "What we say is what we care about is what our customers care about, which is price," he said. "One of the things that Consumer Reports survey didn't ask is where do you get the lowest fare. They asked about legroom and they asked about check-in and they asked about bag fees, and things like that, but the total price that customers pay on Spirit Airlines is less than they pay on anyone else and that's why they love us."

And Baldanza doesn't consider the ranking "the bottom of the list." He said, "We're number-one in margin performance for our investors. We're growing faster than any other airline in the U.S., so we're employing more people. We're the lowest fare in the industry, so we're number-one in the things that matter most to our employees, our customers, and our shareholders."

Asked if the company could offer travelers amenities, Baldanza said, "Do you think a bag of peanuts or a bottle of water is going to make you feel better about sitting in a tighter seat? What makes people come to Spirit Airlines is our average fare in the first quarter was $75, and we fly an average of two-and-a-half hours -- 75 bucks!"

Referring to the importance of price on his airline, he compared his airline to another industry giant, saying, "Everybody hates Walmart, but it's the biggest retailer on the planet."

Watch his full "CTM" interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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