Why I Don’t Fly Spirit Airlines

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Why I Don’t Fly Spirit Airlines
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Again I ask, Can We Take Frugal Too Far?

This time, I’m regretting my decision to fly with Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines has actually been around in some form since the early 1990’s. They began as a trucking company, turned into a vacation charter operator, and then evolved into the ultra low cost budget carrier that we all know and love to hate.

Actually, Spirit may not be an absolutely horrible choice…especially if you want to fly and cash is tight. There’s nothing wrong with saving money.

Never Fly Spirit

Well, Spirit is the only US airline with a 2 out of 5 Skytrax rating.  Also, out of nearly 3000 customer feedback reviews, they only earn a customer feedback score of 3/10. I keep telling myself – it’s only one leg and the flight is 2 hours.

Just know, Spirit will nickel and dime you for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.


I’m heading off to a quick girl’s weekend with good buds. I’ll admit, $100 round-trip tickets from Chicago to Dallas made me giddy. It did – for just a moment – make me forget that I promised years ago to never fly Spirit Airlines again.

Honestly, I can’t quite remember the reason I swore them off. It’s been 10 years or more. After making this reservation, it might be another 10 years before I let my guard down again.

Spirit claims to offer a “barely there” base fare. Then you can choose to pay (or not) for extras.

Extra’s include:

  • Carry-on bags. To be clear – carry-on bags that will not fit under the seat in front of you. $30 if done online, in advance. $35 at the check in. $100 if you have to do it at the gate. I didn’t realize this little nugget when comparing prices between airlines. This alone makes me ill. I’ll explain shortly.
  • Snacks. $5 for your basic airline food provision. No worries, I’ll pack a granola bar and pay $4 for a water in the terminal. UGH!!!
  • Printed boarding passes. $2-$5 for printed boarding passes depending on where you do it. Fine, I’ll print mine at home and hope they have a handy app with a boarding QR code. Heck do both – computers do fail.
  • Extra weight. Oh, in case your carry-on is 40.01lbs or more, add another $25 to your bag fee. Do you have a bathroom scale at home? You might want to pull it out.
  • Big seats. They are open about the limited leg room. I’m not that tall, so I’ll be fine. I was wondering if they squeezed those sets in and stop the 6 degree recline for comfort on purpose??? Of course they did.
  • Assigned seats. Want to ensure an aisle or window seat? It will cost you. Otherwise, I’m sure their random seat assigner will put me in the middle. It’s a 2 hour flight, I’ll make it work.

After spending an hour reading through all of the “extras” on the Spirit site AFTER I purchased my ticket, I realized that flying American with one carry-on bag would actually have been cheaper.

They got me!

Oh well, only one leg of the trip is with Spirit.

Couple other notes to consider if you ever considering flying Spirit:

  • If you miss your flight, be ready to buy a brand new ticket. Also, plan to be at the check in counter (if checking bags) by the recommended time. Some passengers note very long wait times and trouble checking bags leading to missed flights. I’ll admit, I tend to push the time envelop when flying because I usually fly Southwest Airlines and they get me. I need to be on my best time behavior because Spirit does not offer stand-by tickets on a later flight.
  • I rarely recline my seat, but I’m told that no seats lean back on Spirit. There’s not enough space.
  • Make sure to check the carry-on fee before booking and add that your total when comparing Spirit to other airlines.
  • In order to pay for bags online, you are forced to create a Spirit account. They love to send emails. I’m planning to delete it once my flight’s complete.

Since I’m not going to wear two layers of clothes and try to fit my toothbrush and Tic Tacs under the seat, my total cost to fly will be $166 (I haven’t added in the $4 bottle of water – I’ll manage until I get to Dallas). That’s still not bad…as long as I don’t incur any unexpected “extras” once I get to the airport.

We shall see.

I could have purchased both legs on American (and carried my weekend bag on for free) for $146. Spirit suckered me in. They got me this time.

Maybe you’ll be smarter with your $20 next time you fly.

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