I stumbled upon Spirit Airlines when daydreaming about taking an international vacation I didn’t think we could afford. My husband was in college full time, and we had cut our income in half for him to do so. Winter break was coming, and I was wishing hard that we could take a week to get away together before his spring semester started.
We had a little money saved from when we were both still working full time, but didn’t think it would get us too far when planning a trip. I don’t remember exactly how Spirit Airlines came to my attention, but I suddenly found myself clicking frantically around their website as I realized maybe we COULD afford an international vacation after all.
When I told my husband what I had discovered, he was immediately leery. As a former travel agent, he had always told his clients to avoid budget airlines like Spirit at all cost. We both wanted to take a trip, though, so with a bold declaration of “it can’t be THAT bad, can it?” we booked surprisingly affordable flights to Guatemala.
Since that first trip to Guatemala, we have never looked back when it comes to flying Spirit. We have since flown to Bogota, Los Angeles, and most recently Panama on Spirit and have had nothing but amazing experiences. Spirit flies to over 70 destinations (and counting!) throughout North America and as far south as Lima, Peru.
Spirit was recently named Air Transport World’s Value Airline of the Yearand was named the number four US airline carrier by a recent Middle Seat report from the Wall Street Journal, beating both United and American Airlines.
Our experiences point to these accolades being well deserved, but there are a few things that are important to know before you rush to book the next Spirit flight you can get.
You’ll pay for everything individually
Spirit has great base ticket rates, and has nearly daily sales with up to 80% off those already low rates. On top of those rates, however, you will still have to pay for luggage and if you want to choose your own seat. Each passenger is allowed one personal item for free with their ticket, but any carry on or checked luggage must be purchased separately.
Checked items are actually cheaper than carry-on bags, and it’s cheaper to pay for your bags when purchasing your tickets instead of waiting until you get to the airport. Also worth noting: checked bags have a 40 lb. weight limit, not 50 lbs. like many other airlines allow.
Spirit’s philosophy is to provide “More Go for less money” by allowing passengers to pay only for what they need or want beyond their basic seat on the plane. For budget travelers looking to travel light and get from point A to point B for as little money as possible, this is extremely helpful.
Yep, that includes water
No free snacks or beverages on Spirit flights: you’ll pay (with a debit or credit card) for any beverages or snacks you want on your flight. We’ve solved this by bringing our own snacks in our personal item and always bring an empty water bottle to fill up past security before boarding our flight to save money.
Cheaper fares mean less comfort
Spirit’s rows of seats are a little closer together and less comfy than their higher priced competitors. Having more seats on the plane is part of how Spirit can keep their prices lower, but if a bigger seat is important to you it’s possible to pay for a larger front seat.
Allow extra time to check in
One of the main complaints we have about Spirit is that their check-in lines at the airport tend to be quite long. Even though kiosks are usually available for checking in, you then have to wait in a line to check your baggage that seems to take longer than it should to get through. Make sure you allow extra time to check in when heading to the airport for a Spirit flight.
All in all, Spirit has proven itself to be a great way for us to travel. We are young and don’t have kids, making it possible for us to travel extremely light and care less about amenities on our flight. As long as you read carefully, know exactly what you are getting and what you need to pay extra for, we would recommend Sprit to anyone looking for a budget flight!