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Chaos Erupts at Florida Airport After Spirit Airlines Cancels 11 Flights and Strands Hundreds

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Several people were taken into custody at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida after Spirit Airlines canceled multiple flights and hundreds of stranded passengers became furious on Monday.

CBS West Palm Beach affiliate WPEC-TV reports three people were arrested and another one was detained when passengers confronted airline employees over the cancellations and delays.

Videos posted to social media showed Broward County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to keep order among angry passengers. Several travelers can be seen being lead out of the terminal by police.

“Just witnessed police brutality at Fort Lauderdale airport,” one Twitter user captioned a video that appeared to show a passenger falling onto the ground while being surrounded by deputies.

Another passenger who shared video on social media told the New York Daily News that several people were on their way to a graduation on Tuesday and will now miss the event. He also said customers approached the ticket counter yelling and pounding on the desk.

The airline canceled 11 flights and 26 more were delayed Monday, according to FlightAware data.

The airline blamed its own pilots for the cancellations and is suing them in federal court. According to CBS News, Spirit Airlines issued a statement saying they filed a lawsuit against the Airline Pilots Association for alleged “unlawful job action by Spirit pilots.”

The airline says pilots have been turning down last-minute assignments that would earn them twice their pay because union members are threatening and intimidating other pilots who accept the jobs, according to CNN.

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“We are shocked and saddened to see the videos of what took place at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport this evening,” Spirit Airlines spokesman Paul Berry said in a statement to CBS News. “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. These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members. It is for this reason, Spirit has filed suit in Federal Court to protect our customers’ future travel.”

The pilots association responded with their own statement.

“The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l and the Spirit pilot group it represents are not engaged in a job action. 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.  While we will continue these efforts, we will actively defend the association, its officers and its member pilots against the unwarranted and counterproductive legal action brought this evening by Spirit Airlines.”

Spirit Airlines was not immediately available for further comment.