Lynn and I have both heard and read some pretty bad stories about Spirit Airlines. A while back I had found some article (which I can’t seem to find now) which talked about all of the fees that Spirit charges. I usually enjoy reading the comments, and one user went on and on about how they were the WORST airline ever and you should NEVER fly them. This of course was all before I had even booked my first flight with Spirit.
Booking My Spirit Flights
Earlier this spring I was looking to plan a trip to Denver to see my family and help my mom with some things around her house. I figured if I could find a reasonably priced flight that it would be a great opportunity to get out there and see everyone. I just happened to be searching for some flights on Kayak.com and noticed that there were $93 round trip flights from Chicago to Denver. This sounded great to me, considering the average price to fly to Denver is usually around $200. So I confirmed the times with my family and decided to book the flights. Instead of booking through Kayak though I went straight to the Spirit site. As I was going through the booking process it had the cost of my flights at $68. I figured that must be the price before taxes and the total would end up being $93, as it was listed on Kayak. I was wrong, the total was $68. Round trip. Amazing.
Oh, But What About the Fees?
Yes, of course, the fees! After all I had heard about Spirit, there was no doubt that I would be paying an additional $100 or more just to get on the plane! Well, I was determined to not pay any more than the “base fare” (as Spirit calls it). According to everyone on the internet, “There are so many additional fees!” Spirit refers to them as “optional services” though, and if they’re optional that means I don’t have to pay for them, right?
Spirit Optional Services
It doesn’t make sense for me to list out all of the different optional services and explain the details of each, especially when Spirit has it already listed out on their optional services page. I will give a quick summary of their optional services though…
- Bags – You only have one bag that is included in the base fare price, and that is a single personal item (16″ x 14″ x12″). For any additional bags you will have to pay. Checked bags are actually less expensive than carry-on bags, and the longer you wait to decide if you’re bringing additional bags, the more you have to pay for them.
- Seats – With the base fare, Spirit will assign you a seat when you check in (so, you don’t get to choose your seat). You can pay extra to choose a seat, or you can pay even more to have a seat closer to the front or with more leg room.
- Other – It’s best to just look through this page and see what the other costs could be, but the most important is remembering to print your boarding pass. You will pay $2 to print it at the airport kiosk or $10 to print it at the gate. Yikes! Also, all snacks and drinks cost money… even water, so be prepared!
Spirit Airlines Complaints
I can only comment on what I’ve read on the internet, but here are some of the most common complaints about Spirit that I read before and after my flight.
- The additional fees are ridiculous. I already covered most of this in the above section. The fees didn’t bother me. Some people feel they need to pay for convenience and then complain about it. Well, I rarely pay for convenience so it’s not an issue for me.
- The planes are dirty. A lot of people talked about how disgusting the bathrooms are. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment on this because I didn’t go to the bathroom during either of my flights. Another complaint about cleanliness is about the general cabin area. I can sort of see this, but my plane was not that bad. I saw some crumbs and small wrappers on the floor by my seat, and the seat in front of me probably could have been wiped down a little. It had some smudges on the back of the seat and looked a little dirty.
- There’s no leg room. Apparently there is less leg room than most other airlines. I didn’t really notice it that much. It was maybe a little bit tighter, but I still felt like I had plenty of room and I’m about 6 foot tall. I guess taller people may have had some issues.
- The seats don’t recline. I actually didn’t even check to see if this was true when I was on my flight. I rarely recline my seat anyway, especially for a 2 hour flight. I didn’t see this as such a big issue though… I guess if you really can’t live without those extra 2 inches that an airplane seat reclines, then maybe you have other issues you need to deal with.
My Spirit Flight Experience
I was a little anxious before my flight just because I had read so many horror stories, but I also know that some people are just never happy with anything. My plane was maybe one of the older planes in their fleet, but it was perfectly fine. It seemed like it was probably the previous model before the airlines started updating their planes to the newer model during these last couple years. I already covered the cleanliness of the plane above, so no need to cover that again.
For my flight out of Chicago, I sat at the gate waiting to board and they didn’t even start boarding until about 10 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave. I texted my mom and told her that I was probably going to be leaving late. To my surprise we were boarded and ready to leave 15 minutes later. We made up the time in the air and actually landed on time in Denver. Unfortunately, we sat at the edge of the runway waiting for our gate to be available… 50 minutes later we pulled up to our gate. I don’t think this was solely the airlines fault, but it was definitely frustrating.
The one thing that I have to point out is that both of my landings were some of the smoothest landings I have ever experienced. Originally I was thinking, what kind of pilots does a discount airline hire? Well, the answer is, pretty damn good pilots. My mom also just recently flew Spirit to visit us and said the same exact thing about the landing.
For all the complaining that people do online, I think that Spirit is a perfectly fine airline to fly. It’s definitely great for short trips where you don’t need to carry a lot of luggage with you. There’s usually a way to get around additional fees and I am proof of that. I was going to be staying in Denver for 5 days, so I decided that I would use my small backpack as my personal item. I took enough clothes for 2 days and decided to do laundry while I was there. I know that not everyone can do this when they travel, but this saved me the additional fee for bags. Even if I had checked a bag, it would have been $30, bringing my total round trip flight to $98. That’s still a lot cheaper than it normally is on other airlines.
I would definitely fly Spirit again if I was able to find cheap fares like I did the last time. My trip to Denver was one of the cheapest trips I’ve ever taken. It’s hard to pass up cheap fares like this, and I definitely like to save money.