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Woman Captures Spirit Airlines Crew Repairing Her Plane's Engine With Tape Before Takeoff

Photo: TikTok
Screenshots of Spirit Airlines fixing a plane with tape

Discount airlines don't exactly have the greatest reputation across the board, but when it comes to the cheapest ways to fly, Spirit Airlines horror stories take the cake.

From the insane number of fees they charge to the startling frequency with which fights seem to erupt on their flights, Spirit's savings seem to come at a price. Including flying on planes that have been fixed with duct tape, if one woman's TikTok is to be believed.

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A TikToker captured a Spirit Airlines employee repairing her plane's engine with tape before take-off.

TikToker @myhoneysmacks filmed the scene from her window seat just behind the wing of her Spirit flight from Nashville. As people continued boarding the plane, a technician appeared with a roll of shiny silver tape and began taping up the plane's engine, adding several layers and patting it down with his hands, just like you would on a box you were shipping back to Amazon or something. A pretty shocking thing to behold, to say the least, and before long her video went viral and created a new chapter in the annals of Spirit Airlines horror stories.



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The passenger vowed to never fly Spirit Airlines again after catching the repair.

"And this is the exact reason why I don't fly with Spirit," the person said, despite the fact she was on a Spirit flight at the time. "I don't care if it is aviation, airplane tape, or nothing." She then expressed disbelief that the technician was performing the repair so casually in plain view of the flight's passengers. "The fact that you even have to tape the plane together and then you doing it while people are on the flight, like we cannot see you?" she said.

She then said what most of us are probably thinking. "After a while, that's going to need a fresh new coat of tape, that tape going to lose that stickiness!" She was so appalled by the incident she vowed to only fly Southwest Airlines in the future. "Now, Southwest, I can do. But Spirit no, sir... You flying all around the world, and you got tape holding it together?" she mused. "Baby, no, don't even worry about it. I won't be booking with this."

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Repairing planes with tape is a common practice, and the tape is an extremely expensive specialized aviation tape.

It certainly does look like duct tape—so much so that it's a common misconception whenever someone captures an airport technician taping up a plane like it's a rolled ankle on a soccer field. But it turns out it's a highly technical form of tape called "speed tape," and it's used on aircraft all the time, including those incredibly expensive military planes.

As a TikToker explained in response to @myhoneysmacks' video, the tape is made from ultra-thin aluminum and can cost thousands of dollars per roll. Or as he put it, "It's speed tape. You're fine, the plane is fine, it just *looks* ghetto."



Speed tape is so high-tech it can withstand conditions most of us can't even fathom, from 600 mph winds to temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also withstand UV radiation, fire, and chemicals.

The tape is used when weathering has caused a part of the plane to be exposed to the air, and while it is totally safe, it is only used as a stop-gap until the plane can be returned to a repair facility for a proper fix, sort of like putting a spare tire on a car. Except, you know, developed in an aeronautics laboratory and able to withstand 300-degree temperatures and whatnot. Still, it's a disarming sight to behold.

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Despite all the Spirit Airlines horror stories, its safety record is better than many other carriers.

According to airline safety monitoring site AirlineRatings, Spirit Airlines' bad reputation is unearned at least where safety is concerned. It's among the safest low-cost airlines in the world, based on incident and crash records, government regulatory ratings from around the world, and data from the European Union's banned airline list.

The airline even has a better safety record than many of its competitors, including Southwest Airlines, having never had a single crash in its 30 years of operation. 

Still, the airline's notoriously uncomfortable planes, fee-laden, frill-free approach to air travel, and the long list of anecdotal Spirit Airlines horror stories made the whole tape thing seem that much more eye-popping to people on TikTok. One man joked that everyone on board this taped-up plane would be "flying to heaven" on Spirit's "Walmart Great Value" aircraft.



"Fly with spirit and become a spirit," one commenter joked, while another quipped that no one shouldn't worry about the tape thing because "he patted it down so it’s ok." And several people said they would have jumped off the plane after seeing the tape incident. "Oh they would've had to turn me loose," one woman wrote.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers social media and human interest topics.