Updated on May 10, 2017
Have you ever flown on Spirit Airlines? I've had many conversations with a variety of travelers regarding the no-frills airline. I know some travelers who love flying on Spirit, and its their preferred airline. On the flip side, I know of others who despise it, and would rather sit on the wing of a Boeing 747 before even thinking about booking a flight with Spirit.
Many of you have inquired about my experiences with Spirit, tips for flying with them, and my overall feelings. I'm going to address all of these questions in this post. If you don't want to read about my experiences or opinions then scroll down towards the bottom of this post to see my top tips for flying on Spirit.
To put it nicely, I'm not a fan of Spirit. I've flown with them several times and have had a variety of interesting experiences. A few years ago, I used them to fly to Cancun. This was a big mistake. I almost missed my connecting flight while heading to and from Cancun. I've found that for connections, my layover time is always cut too close. On both occasions, I had to beg TSA to let me cut through the security lines.
I've seen tense situations escalate at Fort Lauderdale International due to passengers being informed that their bags were over-sized and they'd have to pay extra. Lastly, I've asked for a cup of water and in exchange have received a sad cup of ice. I had to sit there and watch it melt before I could take a sip. I promise, that I'm not making this stuff up.
My Personal Opinion
Despite all of these interesting experiences I still fly with Spirit and only under certain circumstances. I only do so for direct non-stop flights, short hauls that are 2 hours or less, and flight deals that are too cheap to pass up. I recently booked a flight with Spirit to New Orleans that cost me less than $100 round trip. The flight was short and uneventful, which is all I ask of Spirit.
There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to deciding to fly or not to fly with Spirit. I respect everyone's opinions. However, if you are going to fly with them you need to be smart about it. It's important that you prepare ahead and have minimal expectations. Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind when it comes to flying on Spirit.
Spirit Travel Tips
1. Know the Fees. I cannot emphasize just how important this is. Spirit flights may seem cheap due to their Bare Fares at quick glance. Baggage, seat selection, and additional fees can quickly add up. A flight that you've seen for $50 can easily rise after any additional fees are calculated.
Make sure that you do a quick comparison with other air carriers before you book. In the long run, you might end up saving money or spending the same amount that you would've spent on Spirit by choosing another carrier. Before booking with Spirit, I try to consider how much I value service, comfort, and convenience. Sometimes, I will sacrifice these things depending on the price and flight time.
2. Pack Smart. This is where things can get tricky when flying on Spirit. They will allow you to bring a carry-on but you have to pay for it. That's right, the overhead space that you love so much is not free. You can go to this link to find out what the cost is for your carry-on or checked bag depending on your destination.
Spirit will allow you to bring along 1 personal item like a backpack or small bag as your free personal item. However, It must fit in their sizer. According to their website, it must be 16" x 14" x 8. After April 3, 2017 the size is going up to 18" x 14" x 8.
Update: The current size requirement for personal items: Dimensions must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) including handles and wheels.
There are some tactics that I use to make sure that I don't get stopped by what I like to call "Spirit Bag Wardens." During my travels, I've found that some airline employees are stricter at certain airports while others are more lenient. (For instance Spirit's Hub) The main task of these "Bag Wardens" is to keep an eye out for bags that look too large. You do not want to be told that your personal item is too big. This can cause you to have last-minute bag charges that are not pleasant. Spare yourself the additional cost and anger.
To combat this, opt for backpacks, duffle, or weekender bags. I've found that rectangular or square shaped bags fit perfectly underneath the seat. Try not to draw undue attention to your bag, especially if you think it might not be within the personal item size limits.
I use this Adidas Diablo Small Duffle Bag and have had no issues with placing it under my seat.
Technically, your personal-item is supposed to be placed under your seat. At times I've rebelliously placed it in the over head compartment space so I can get more legroom. (The overhead space is reserved for passengers that have paid for carry-on bags.) Some flight attendants enforce this rule while some don't.
3. Protect Your Neck
Trust me, your neck will thank you. The seats on Spirit do not recline so pack a pillow. I've found that some of the newer Spirit plane seats are much more comfortable than the older planes.
4. Pack the Snacks
One of the worst decisions you can make, is to board a Spirit plane with an empty stomach. There's no snacks fly free or drinks fly free mentality on Spirit. Back in my early non-educated days of flying on Spirit I paid $5 for a Cup of Noodles and a Ginger Ale. I felt like an idiot as I ate my noodles in anger.
If you're flying with Spirit be sure to make time to grab something before your flight. Don't make the same rookie mistake that I did.
5. Don't Ask for Help.
Be sure to check in for your flight in advance, and use the self-service kiosks to print your boarding pass. If you need help from an agent, its going to come with a cost. There is no fee associated with dropping off bags that have already been checked in at the kiosk.
6. Buy Your Tickets At the Airport. Spirit tacks on a Passenger Usage Fee for tickets purchased online. The airline charges its customers for the convenience of buying tickets online. The cost of this fee varies depending upon the price of the plane ticket. I recently saved $38.00 by purchasing two tickets to Cabo San Lucas directly at the airport counter. When purchasing my tickets, I asked the counter agent if a lot of customers purchasing tickets at the counter. Her reply was yes! Depending upon the airport, there should be a separate line for customers who are only purchasing tickets.
Now it's your turn to chime in. Are you a fan of Spirit Airlines? Or do you avoid them like the plague? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences about them. If you have a question that I didn't answer feel free to ask it below. I promise that I won't charge you for it.