Logic and Benefits Behind Flying Spirit Airlines

 In Travel Tips

Cheap airlines get a bad rap. Have you flown one recently? RyanAir, Jet Blue, Spirit Airlines, WOW, and more have been nickel and diming people for years, and people are mad. They like their drink service, Wi-Fi, free bags, extra leg room and bad airplane food. Maybe you are one of these people. Maybe you don’t care. There are a few things to note before you bash a cheap airline again though.

Recently, I flew Spirit Airlines from Baltimore to Minneapolis. The flight was under three hours and cost $56 + $21 to check one bag (under 40lbs). If I wanted to choose my own seat, I could pay $14-18. If I wanted the big seats up front with extra leg room, I could pay $21. If I wanted to bring a carry on bag that was larger than a backpack, I had to pay to bring that bag on (this is for all your roller board travelers, and it will cost you slightly more if you don’t check your bag).

Let’s do the math together. To fly to Minneapolis and check a bag under 40lbs I paid $77 on Spirit Air. I did not pick my seat. At the time of check in there were still plenty of seats open so I took my chances. I got a lovely window seat in aisle 14. If I had actually wanted to secure a specific seat, I would have paid $14, to bring me up to $91. Not too bad when flights on other major carriers were looking close to $250 for a one way ticket.

Spirit Airlines breaks their pricing down for you. It costs money to load your bags, so you pay for that. Instead of it being rolled into my ticket and grossly marked up, I paid $21 for a big man to throw my bag on the plane and take it off. I would pay at least $25 for another airline to check a bag (domestically), plus my ticket would have still cost more. Beverage service, Wi-Fi and TV screens add weight to a plane, which means the airline has to use more gas to get you from point A to point B, so they kept those options off, which saves on gas and saved me on my plane ticket.

Where we all crammed in like sardines? Of course, but really, what airline don’t you feel like a sardine these days? I can barely open my laptop, much less work on a flight comfortably in economy without being hunched over and ducked down to see the screen. Was it annoying to have to check my bag and not stick my roller board in the overhead? A little, but I’ll tell you what, the boarding process was so much less stressful. People weren’t pushing each other to get ahead so they could secure the space. We were all much more relaxed.

The Spirit Air staff was courteous, although not as funny as Southwest, but since Southwest now costs about as much as any other airline to fly, I guess they can pay their people more to make jokes. When I fly I’m not looking for much. I just need to get my work done or read my book. I’d like to arrive safely, on time, and for my luggage to make it there too. I always buy food and a bottle of water before I get on a plane. Beverage service takes too long and airplane food is generally pretty bad (in my humble opinion) unless you are in First Class or a flight attendant sneaks you a cookie. Why should I pay the airline for food I’m not going to eat?

The big question you may now ask is “should I fly Spirit Airlines all of the time?” Really it depends on your needs. I have frequent flier friends who say they will only fly Spirit Air if the flight is three-hour or less. It seems like a good rule of thumb to work on until you figure out if Spirit Airlines is worth it for you. If you are flying with kids you will also want to carefully price out tickets and all of the extras for your family. At no point did I feel like I was coming across hidden fees. Spirit Airlines was very upfront about them. My favorite part is the boarding ticket though—if you print your boarding pass at home you don’t have to pay for it at the airport (reasoning is you are using your own ink and paper, not theirs so you save them money). On your ticket you will clearly see what time you need to have your bag checked, when you need to be through security and what time the plane starts to board.

Whether you are flying Spirit Airlines or another discount airline, always remember, you generally get what you paid for, although sometimes the cheaper airlines can surprise you and surpass the major carriers. Give it a try and then come back to let me know what you think.


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Showing 4 comments
  • jill

    Like you I do not need all the bells and whistles when I fly – I’ve flown Allegiant numerous times and Ryanair, also, with no problems. But I would only fly Spirit with my eyes wide open – they are notorious for cancelling flights with no available plane for 2 or 3 days and non-existent customer service.(There is even a website for angry Spirit customers to share their horror stories of delays and cancellations) We flew them to go to a wedding and after a flight problem we were given a free flight certificate. Notice that this a “free” flight to wherever they fly – not a monetary amount like the “big” airlines give you. When we tried to use it it we were charged all taxes, fee, fuel surcharges,etc and essentially received about $17.50 in discount. So if I were to fly them again I would definitely be prepared with a back-up plan – and never take the bump – it’s not worth the time or effort. I’m glad that you had a good experience and I’m sure they wouldn’t be in business if all their flights were delayed and grounded, but they did leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

  • flygirl

    This post is soooo on point. I wanted to fly my family (Me, husband, three kids) to Orlando from Dallas, to go to Disneyworld. The Spirit flight round trip was $134 ($675). On Southwest it was $419 for the roundtrip ($2,095). That’s a difference of $1,420 so obviously we chose Spirit. We paid to choose seats because I wanted my kids sitting with us ($5 each = $25 each way), and we took three checked bags (only needed one for the kids $61 each way). So our total price on Spirit for a roundtrip with seats and bags each way costs a grand total of $800 vs. the $2,095 on Southwest – a difference of $1,295. We were able to use that money for a special character breakfast at Cinderella’s castle, a few more souvenirs, and a couple of other special moments during our stay. Anytime I hear people bash Spirit, it’s because they are either elitist, they just don’t get it, or their company pays (a lot) for all of their travel.

  • sigrid giordano

    We are flying Spirit airline in December to Cancun and wonder with my daughter brining her 6 year old triplets, will we be seated with a parent or grandparent?

    • Keryn Means

      That’s definitely a question to ask the airline. I’d give them a call to make sure.

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