Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines – Discount Airline or Rip-off?

$75 for a round trip ticket to Florida!!! How can this be?

So you found an insanely cheap fare on Spirit Airlines and you immediately book it thinking that surely their system is broken and it can’t be THAT cheap. Then you start to question, why is it so cheap? Well, it’s because Spirit Airlines is known for their ‘no frills’ approach. This means they charge for all of their ‘extra’ services such as booking with an agent, printing boarding passes, checking in at the airport, baggage and snacks on the plane. However, if you know how to play their game prior to booking you can keep that fare as low as possible.

Here are all the ways you can keep that super low fare:

BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT

Let’s start at the beginning and talk about booking. When you book your trip on Spirit Airlines, DO IT ON THEIR WEBSITE. Booking on their website is free. If you book by calling their reservation center it will cost you another $35.

Spirit Airlines
PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

BAGGAGE FEES

This is a good time to talk about baggage because there is a significant discount to paying for your luggage at the time of booking as opposed to when you check-in for your flight or at the airport. This is also when you need to start considering things like what you will be carrying on your flight.

The only free baggage you are allowed on Spirit Airlines is something like a small backpack or purse that is less than 16″x14″x12″. For travel after 4/3/2017, the max dimensions decrease to 18″x14″x8″.

So now begins the decision process that will save you the most money on your journey with Spirit. There are a couple of school of thought here:

  • If you are planning a short trip, you could attempt to fit everything in your free carry-on bag. We did this on a recent trip and let me tell you, it really is difficult to fit all you need into one bag if you will be traveling for more than a couple of days. Also remember, for the money you are saving in baggage (approx. $60 roundtrip) you could run to the local Wal-Mart and get your essentials and still not reach the amount of round trip checked or carry-on baggage.
  • You could bite the bullet and spring for roundtrip baggage. The fare is sometimes so low that even with luggage you wouldn’t reach the fares of other airlines.
Spirit Airlines
PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

CHECK-IN AND BOARDING PASSES

Some simple pre-planning will save you another bunch of money. By checking in and printing your boarding passes at home prior to leaving for the airport you will save up to $20 per person round trip. Now remember, if you are staying at a hotel you should find a way to print your boarding passes before your return trip.

Spirit Airlines
PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

SEATING FEE

If you don’t care where you sit and don’t want a guarantee that your traveling party will be seated together, you should definitely let Spirit pick your seats for free. If these things do matter then you should pick your own seat which is approximately $14/seat. I will say that I have always been seated with my traveling party and have never paid the extra amount. However, I always attempt to check-in at exactly 24-hours prior to departure.

PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

FLIGHT MODIFICATIONS

Plans change… It happens… Some airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, offers free modifications. Spirit Airlines charges $90 to modify your flight online and $100 to modify it by calling their reservations department or at the airport.

Spirit Airlines
PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

FLIGHT SNACKS

Nope, even the soda isn’t free. Each soda is $3.00 and chips are $2.50. However, they do have bundles which will save you a little.

Spirit Airlines
PHOTO CREDIT: Spirit.com

THE PLANES

The one thing about Spirit Airlines is the planes. They are all sparkling clean and appear to be brand new! However, their ‘no frills’ approach does extend to the seats. They do not recline and the tray table is about the size of a women’s wristlet. (I couldn’t fit my Starbucks Trenta Strawberry Acai Refresher on the tray table).

COST COMPARISON (Not planning vs. Pre-planning)

As you can see, without some diligent pre-planning you could actually double your costs and be back to the same price as some of the other discount (and even major) airlines.

NOTES

  • Spirit Airlines does not accept cash. If you are stuck and all you have is cash there are ‘cash-to-card’ machines located near the check-in area.

CONCLUSION

So is Spirit Airlines a discount airline or a rip-off? I say it’s definitely a discount airline. They make no bone of the fact they are a ‘no frills’ airline. (On our recent flight their flight attendants even joked about the extra costs.) Their prices are clearly stated on their website allowing you the ability to save money where you want. With some targeted pre-planning you will get the lowest price possible saving you tons of money.

Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

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