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A Pros and Cons list for flying Spirit Airlines!

Finding the right airline can sometimes feel like navigating a labyrinth, especially for the perpetually budget-conscious traveler. Enter Spirit Airlines – the unsung hero for some, the cautionary tale for others. Today, we unbox the Spirit experience, pulling out a dual-sided approach to its service that you, as a wise wanderer, can't afford to skip.


Flying to Vegas on Spirit
Flying to Vegas on Spirit

Some of you might think I must be an affiliate of Spirit because of how much I rave about the airline in several of my blogs. This is not the case. Spirit does not pay me to write blogs to promote them. I write blogs based upon personal experience with the airline and believe me I have taken tons of flights with Spirit. From Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando, Spirit has been my budget airline of choice many times, but I will call them out when they do something that is not right. Since I am a budget traveler and a travel agent for budget-conscious travelers, Spirit is a very good option in my opinion. So, onto the blogs and let's get this pros and cons list for flying Spirit Airlines started.








Pros and Cons List of Spirit Airlines unveiled.

Family in airport

Spirit Airlines has long been the maverick of the sky, disrupting the industry with what's perhaps the most streamlined approach to flying commercially. This ultra-low-cost carrier is the darling of the no-frills traveler, offering enticingly priced fares that can make even the most reluctant globetrotter start to dream of the next far-off destination. Yet, the allure of these seemingly too-good-to-be-true prices often comes with stories—legend-like, cautionary, or heartwarming experiences that paint the Spirit canvas in a myriad of hues. This is very similar to other budget airlines all across the world, but I am most familiar with the budget airlines of Spirit, Allegiant, Frontier and Breeze Airways as the cost friendly option in the United States.


With flights all over the United States and even many to Latin America, it can be hard to not buy a cheaper ticket from time to time. When picking a Spirit flight that saves you $400 (which I have seen) it is very tempting to fly Spirit. Take a glance at the difference in flight prices, comparing Spirit to American Airlines or United Airlines. You can easily see the savings with flying with a budget carrier.



Pros List of Spirit Airlines

The draw of a Spirit flight is crystal clear. It's unequivocally the place to be for price-sensitive patrons. Spirit touts its low fares like a badge of honor, promising to get you from Point A to Point B without the bells, whistles, or bows that are so often the hallmark of other carriers. Here's a list of Spirit's victory flags:


Spirit Flight boarding pass
Spirit Flight boarding pass

Unbeatable Prices

If frugality is your flighty friend, Spirit's prices will often beat its competitors, and by no small margin. They offer base fares for a mere pittance, getting you airborne at a fraction of the cost of traditional airlines. You can bring a free personal item on board, like all other airlines allow.




Transparent Pricing

Gone are the days of hidden fees that jump out just before you 'click to buy'. With Spirit, what you see is what you get—although sometimes, understanding what you're getting is a bit of an art form. 


Customization Galore

Spirit's à la carte approach allows you to truly personalize your flight. Need a seat that reclines? Extra legroom? Even a carry-on? You pick and pay only for what you require. I have seen $50 upgrades for Spirit’s big front seat, to $18 upgrades for the same seat on a different flight. It just depends on what flight you are on, or how long the flight is.


Woman at an airport
Woman at an airport

Frequent Sales and Discounts

Keep your eyes peeled, and you'll be rewarded with flash sales and discounts that make even their already low prices look shockingly affordable. For my last trip to Las Vegas I paid $106 for a round trip, nonstop flight from Charlotte NC. Not too Shabby in my book. Ticket prices are excellent for certain times of the year also.


Zone 1 boarding

If you add the additional cost to the purchase to bring carry-on luggage, you will be in Zone 1 boarding, and it will be printed on your boarding pass. That way you can find room above your seat to stick your baggage.


Online Check-In

24 hours before you board the plane you will get and email and a text message from the airline to do the online check in. This is great if you are only bringing a carry on, or personal item  on the plan. It allows you to print or download your airplane ticket onto your cell phone. Very convenient option which most other airlines also offer. Download their mobile app for easier access on your cell phone while using Spirit Airlines. It works very similar to the large airlines mobile apps.


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Cons List of Spirit Airlines.

While Spirit's benefits are writ large, their downsides are whispered in quick snippets, sometimes barely enough to cause you pause. A survey of dissatisfied customers can reveal a different series of encounters with the airline. Here are a few:


The Nickel-and-Diming Culture

Luggage

Extra fees for carry-on bags, checked luggage, can leave you wondering if you're traveling by weight or by wallet. This stringent cost structure can quickly chip away at the initially attractive fares. My advice to beat this is pack light. I very rarely check a bag, most of the time I bring a small backpack and call it my small personal item and that is it. This last flight to Vegas they were charging $65 for a checked bag and $60 for a carry-on. So, pack light and just pack a personal item. Please be careful though, they will watch your bag just to make sure your personal item is not too large, if it is they will catch it and charge you for a carry on, which will cost you more at the gate. Also, if your checked luggage is over 40 pounds they will charge you an additional fee of $75 bucks for the checked bag. So, as you can tell, baggage fees can be rough. 


Paying for food and drinks

Unlike major airlines you will have to pay for soft drinks and snacks, and sometimes it will cost you more on the airplane than in the airport. I always buy a bottle of water in the airport and take on the plane to combat this, but a friend of mine packed his refillable, reusable water bottle in his backpack and filled it up at the airport for free, which I have to admit, I will be doing the next time. So, if you enjoy complimentary snacks, budget is not for you.


No Flexibility

In an industry where schedules can change at the drop of a hat, Spirit's inflexibility when it comes to changes and cancellations can be a trip-wire for stress. The airline’s no-refund policy on most of its bookings can leave you with a loss if your plans alter. If the airline has to cancel the flight due to mechanical issues or weather-related issues you will be told to work with customer service, they will get you on the next flight that they can. But their customer service can be lacking.


Minimal Comfort

View out airplane window

The term 'no frills' applies here—seats designed for maximum occupancy can sometimes mean minimal cushioning. For tall or wide flyers, the notion of extra-legroom is simply out of reach without additional fees. Let me tell you, the standard seats are uncomfortable. These are basic flights, which means the padding on the seats are lacking too, and not a lot of room for your legs. This can be rough if you are on a 4.5 hour flight to Vegas. They tend to do upgrades to a better seat for a cheaper price than other airlines, but I usually don't do the upgrade. Seat selection prices are cheaper if you are just choosing extra leg room and picking an emergency exit row seat, but these seats are a little bit tighter in width in my opinion. For a short flight (2 hours or less) I don’t bother doing an upgrade.


Service Stories

If customer service is a top criterion for your flying experience, brace yourself for indifferent or limited assistance, as reports of poor service standards are not uncommon. This is the most common complaint, and it is true they do not have a large customer service department compared to the major airlines.


Neutral Factors

Spirit Airlines offers their own personal credit cards. The Free Spirit Mastercard, which I guess is convenient for those of you who would like this. But for me I don't need to open up another credit card, but they will give you extra Spirit points if you open up one.

Spirit offers airline miles, which you can earn enough points for discounted or free flights. I finally joined the program last year, which I wish I had done earlier, I would have tons of points. To me the flights were so decently priced I never bothered with it, but I am now curious how well those points will add up with more Spirit flights I take over the years to come.


Free Spirit Travel Loyalty Program

Free Spirit is their version of a frequent flyer program. Become a gold or even a silver member where you can receive benefits from the airlines. This is beneficial if you fly the airline often. Being a gold member can get you free carry-on luggage, free checked luggage, pet fee waived, free drinks and snacks, zone 1 boarding and free flight flex.


Wi-fi Charges

cellphone and earphones

Wi-fi charges are $16.95 per flight, which is great if you need to use wi-fi. As for me, it is not needed, I play games on my phone that don't need wi-fi, or download movies to watch from Netflix to my phone. Sometimes especially if I am flying a “redeye” I will try to sleep.


Seat Assignment

If you are not picky, you do not have to pay for a seat assignment, Spirit will just seat you randomly and you will find out on your ticket. If you are wanting to sit with friends or family, you might want to pay for a seat assignment, or if you would like the window or aisle seats. It can cost some money but i have seen it as cheap as $5 for a standard seat.



A Personal Spirited Encounter

My interactions with Spirit Airlines have been fine, given I knew what I was getting in for. The budget-friendly fares and smooth flights left me bewitched. I have had wonderful flight attendants who at times have made the flight fun with their smiles and playful banter during the boarding process. Still, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the tales of horror spurned by perceived hidden fees or unforeseen policy strictures.


Airport

Spirit Airlines gets many jabs as the worst airlines out there, even from comedians you watch on TV. Now don't get me wrong there are horror stories out there.  I even heard one where the flight was canceled and the vacation was ruined. But out of the 15 flights I have taken, I have only had one serious delay and that was due to a flight attendant calling out at the last minute due to having Covid. Our flight was delayed for about an hour and a half while they called another attendant in because it is illegal to fly with less than a certain number of crew on a plane. Also, in recent news JetBlue Airlines and Spirit were trying to merge, the merger did not happen, but if there was even a talk of a merger, Spirit cannot be that bad.


I have seen Spirit employees at the gate stand firm on the carry-on bag rule. The customer fussing and cussing and the employee standing firm to the rules, never cussing but holding their ground to the point I thought a fight would start. (This was in Las Vegas, and only 1 time)


Wrapping It Up

If you're in the business of diligently hunting for airfare and are willing to sacrifice certain comforts for the cheap cost, Spirit Airlines is worth a second, and even a third, glance. But it's not for everyone. Before you make the leap, it's crucial to weigh these pros and cons against your travel style and personal preferences. After all, there's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the high-flying decisions of a thrifty traveler. Cheap flights are wonderful, but if comfort is your desire, you might want to look elsewhere. I hope this blog has helped you make an informed decision, may your journeys always be exhilarating, and may the Spirit of adventure lift your wings on your next flight, no matter the airline.


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This blog contains affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might receive a commission at no extra cost to you.



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