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There are a bunch of ways to save money when flying: book on a certain day at a certain time, use reward points, pick a less popular time to fly, and so on. Another big way to save on airfare is to book with a low-cost budget airline.
Not too long ago, I started looking into flying with a low-cost airline. Let me tell you, it can be amazzzing (because of the whole saving $$ thing) or terrible due to…well, lots of things (bad customer service, non-existent leg room, etc).
Spirit is the most well-known budget airline in the U.S., for both good and bad. Spirit has had public relations chaos and dealt with a notable bout of hate from people who have flown on the airline. Never fear! There is a way to fly Spirit airlines and have it not suck (for the most part…).
Spirit has routes running all over America, the Caribbean, and Central America. When you first see their pricing, you’ll be blown away. The fares are very low when compared to other airlines. You’ll think you scored some massively awesome deal. You did! Sort of.
In an effort to provide the lowest of low airfare prices, Spirit cuts out everything you would normally expect when flying. The mission is simple: get you from point A to point B. If you want the traditional amenities you’ve been accustomed to when flying, you’ll have to pay up with additional fees.
Peanuts? That costs extra. Picking your seats? Costs extra. Reclining your seats? Hahaha, nope.
When I flew with Spirit on a trip from San Diego to Houston, the base fare for the flight only cost $61. Adding in some fees, I ended up having to pay $113 total. Still a way better deal than the other airlines, and the experience of flying with them was mostly okay.
Spirit charges additional fees on everything you can probably think of. It really is a bare bones flight. Be aware of how you will be flight (how many bags, how big, etc) when booking so you can add on anything extra at the time of booking rather than paying more for it later on.
There is no free carry-on. You are allowed one personal item per person. For my flight from San Diego to Houston, I paid an additional $35 to bring one carry-on bag with me on the flight.
BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS
Spirit doesn’t give out peanuts or even a small complimentary drink. For a person like me who orders ginger ale and sips it as I look out the window pretending to be in one of those cool alcohol commercials, it can be a bummer not to get anything.
Think ahead and bring some snacks and an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Fill up the water bottle after you get through security.
If you buy a snack and soda on the flight, it’s going to run you around $5-15. Although apparently Sprit’s on board alcoholic beverages are cheaper than other airlines. Maybe that’s something to be excited about? 🙂 (I wouldn’t know, not much of a drinker).
Seat selection. On default, Spirit will pick your seat for you. Not something that’s ideal if you’re flying with someone else or in a group and want to stay together.
Customer selected seats range from $1-50. The big front seats, which have more leg room and no middle seat, cost between $12-199.
On my flight from San Diego to Houston, I opted to let Spirit choose the seat for me. It would have cost $10 if I had wanted to pick a standard seat of my own and $50 if I had wanted one of the big front seats.
If you book over the phone or online (a.k.a. they way almost everyone books flights nowadays) you will be subject to a “passenger usage fee” which ranges from $8.99 to $17.99. I got charged $17.99. The fee is waived if you go directly to the airport and book at the clerk counter. So if you happen to live close to the airport, book there.
Getting your boarding pass from the clerk desk costs $10, so either print at home or at one of the airport kiosks (the kiosks are free!).
I remember another blogger mentioning how Spirit felt like a “greyhound bus in the air” because of how not great the flight was. Many people have mentioned how Spirit’s flights are frequently late on arrival.
My experience flying Spirit was positive and I didn’t have any problems. The seat was a little tight, given that I’m 6’2 and Spirit puts their seats closer together but it wasn’t too bad. I had snacks I brought on the flight and kept myself entertained with a book and my flight arrived on time.
Have you ever flown with Spirit or another low-cost budget airline? What has your experience been like?