Spirit is a scrappy airline that keeps attracting new customers despite being named the worst airline in the United States, according to a Consumer Reports list.
Spirit prides itself on ultra-low fares, but at what cost?
I flew Spirit six times within the past year from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, the airline’s home base. Here’s what you need to know to avoid getting ripped off.
1. ONLINE BOOKING FEE
Among its slew of fees, Spirit charges a “Passenger Usage Fee” of $8.99 to $16.99 each way when you book online. You can avoid it by booking at the airport. Does anyone still do that?
2. BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR DATES AND TIMES
I got the cheapest fares when flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. I also like to fly early in the day. You know, before delays and cancellations add up.
3. PACK LIGHT (OR NOT AT ALL)
Spirit allows one personal item, but a carry-on will cost you $26. Yes, a carry-on. Don’t press your luck either. If your personal item is too big, you’ll be hit with a $100 fee at the gate. There are times when I’ve needed to check a bag. Your first checked bag will cost $21, which is $5 cheaper than a carry-on.
4. PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASS AT HOME
Not only will it save time, you’ll avoid a $10 fee for having a ticket agent print it for you.
5. LET SPIRIT PICK YOUR SEAT
It’ll cost you to pick your own seat, but there’s no charge if Spirit does it for you. Fingers crossed you get a window seat.
6. SUCK IT IN
Spirit’s seats are the most uncomfortable of all the airlines unless you pay extra for a bigger seat in the front.
7. PREPARE TO BE THIRSTY
See a theme here? Drinks and snacks are not part of your ticket price on Spirit.
8. PACK A SENSE OF HUMOR
The passengers on Spirit are entertaining to say the least. Chances are you will encounter one of the following on your flight.
- Someone eating leftovers next to you.
- Family members shouting across the plane because they didn’t pay extra to sit together.
- A neon-colored thong.
- Irate passengers screaming “This airline sucks.”
This list provides good reasons why you may NOT want to fly Spirit. However, you can save money on this airline. I have.
Last year, I signed up for the Spirit World MasterCard, which is advertised on the flights.
The card gives you 15,000 miles after your first purchase and 2 miles for every $1 you spend. The miles added up so quickly, I used them for all six of my Spirit flights within the past year. Keep in mind, you’ll have to navigate Spirit’s award redemption chart to maximize your miles.
After booking and baggage fees, my “free” flights went for about $50 to $60.
If Spirit has flights to destinations you like, I’m here to tell you there’s a way to outsmart the fees. I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
With that said, I will ALWAYS check Southwest for a better fare.
USEFUL INFORMATION: COMPLETE LIST OF FEES FROM SPIRIT’S WEBSITE
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