Spirit airlines is known for being an “ultra-low-cost carrier”. I have flown Spirit many times over the years, and will likely continue to. It’s important to know what to expect before choosing this airline. Spirit has a controversial reputation because many travelers are taken by surprise due to the fact that they did not know “how” to fly Spirit.
$9 Fare Club membership. The first thing you should be aware of is the membership they will offer you. Spirit offers a 60-day $19.95 trial membership. The cost for annual membership is $59.95. Be aware that fare for club membership annual Renewal is $69.95. Sometimes the fare difference and savings on baggage fees is worth paying for the trial membership. What most people don’t realize is that your membership will automatically renew the following year unless you cancel it. The charge appears on the credit card that you used to pay for the membership initially. If you plan to fly Spirit often, it may be worthwhile for you. If not, plan to cancel the membership right away so that you do not forget a year later.
Bag Fees. One personal item is included with your fare. This is something like a laptop bag or purse smaller than 18″x14″x8″. After that, the prices for bags are based on if you are a club member and when you purchase your bags. Paying for your bags during booking is the cheapest option. The cost is $27 for your 1st checked bag if you are a member, and $36 for nonmembers. The cost for a carry-on bag is $32 for members, and $41 for nonmembers. If you decide to wait and purchase bags online prior to check-in or during online check in, the cost goes up for checked bags to $36 for members, and $41 for nonmembers. Carry-on bags will cost $42 for members, and $51 for nonmembers during this time period. If you wait to purchase bags at the airport you will pay $50 for checked bags, and $55 for carry-on regardless if you are a member or not. Further, if you pay at the gate for your bags the cost will run you $65 per bag – period. Another important difference to be aware of is the weight limit for checked bags. Most airlines allow 50 pounds, but Spirit only allows 40 pounds for checked bags. It’s easy to see how not being aware of bag policies can cost you a lot of extra money. However, if you purchase your bags at the time of booking, bag prices are comparable to other airlines.
Seats. Like many other airlines, Spirit charges to pick your seats. Prices are comparable to other airlines and range from $1 to $50 for regular seats. They offer upgrades to “Big Front Seats” ranging in price from $12 to $150. Of course, you also have the option to let Spirit choose your seats for free. This is the option that I normally choose. It’s important to remember to book under the same reservation if you want to be seated for free next to your friends and family. You are not guaranteed to be seated together, but I have personally never had an experience where we were seated apart. I have found Spirit to be different than other airlines in regards to the comfort of the seats. They are slightly smaller and do not recline back. There is no in-flight entertainment and the trays are extra small.
Small stuff. Food and drink are not included in the fare. They are available for purchase in flight or you can bring your own. Boarding passes printed by airport kiosk can cost $2 each. However, boarding passes printed at home are free. Spirit also sells extra options for shortcut boarding ($5.99+ each way) and shortcut security (Up to $15).
Air Craft. Spirit airlines is the eight largest commercial airline in North America. Spirit operates an all-Airbus Fit Fleet. They have one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the U.S., adding a brand-new plane every month. The average age of their aircraft is just 5.6 years. Every flight I have taken has been extremely clean and modern.
If you are looking for luxury travel, this airline is not for you. Most people consider taking a Spirit flight based on the low prices. If done right, it can be a great option for those on a budget. I have been able to afford many trips that I likely would not have otherwise by flying Spirit.
To effectively fly Spirit you must first consider if purchasing the membership will save you at least the $19.95 trial membership fee. Usually it does. If you choose this option, set a reminder on your phone to cancel the membership one week later. Purchase your bags at the time of booking and take advantage of the free personal item they allow. You would be surprised how much you can fit in a bag that size. I have never found them to scrutinize you over this. If it fits under the seat in front of you, it’s fine. Ensure that your checked bags weigh less than 40 pounds. Plan to print your own boarding passes and let Spirit choose your seats for maximum savings. Consider the comfort of the seats and use Spirit for shorter flights if possible. Book in advance for optimal flight times and nonstop options. I have found that they sometimes have better flight schedules than other (more expensive) airlines. Plan to bring your own food if you think you might get hungry on the flight.
Setting realistic expectations and doing your research on the airlines that you travel has always been my advice. It can avoid costly annoyances while traveling. Many airlines these days are changing policy with surprise charges and going down to basic fares. You really have to make an effort to stay up to date. If you have been curious but hesitant to fly Spirit, hopefully this information will help you to make a more informed decision about what is best for you.