I’m Flying Spirit Airlines (And Overpaying For The Privilege)!!!

Filed Under: Spirit, Travel

Oh, the things I do to entertain you guys (and myself, really)…

I just booked a ticket on Spirit Airlines. I couldn’t help myself. The craziest part? The ticket cost me twice as much as a ticket on American on the same route at the same time would have cost, where I would have gotten a first class upgrade, lounge access, etc. But where’s the fun in that?

For those of you not familiar with Spirit, it’s America’s (least?) favorite low cost carrier. They’re proud of how much they suck. It’s the only airline I know of on SeatGuru where all standard economy seats are marked as “yellow” and have a warning. Spirit has the least seat pitch of any US airline, at 28″. If a fight breaks out on a flight in the US, odds are good that it’s on Spirit.

Their marketing team is run by a teenage boy.

But there’s one aspect of Spirit that fascinates me. Spirit has “Big Front Seats,” which are basically like first class seats minus the service. The markup for these is extremely reasonable. Even on their longest flights they charge just ~$50 or so to reserve one of these seats. As upgrades on the traditional US carriers continue to get tougher, is just outright booking a Spirit “Big Front Seat” the best option? I’m dying to find out for myself.

I’m flying Spirit on an almost three hour flight, and the upgrade cost was $32. Funny enough that’s less than the carry-on fee of $37.

By the time I’m paying all those fees, my ticket is costing me $188, while American would have charged $99. And of course it’s going to end up costing me even more, because you can expect a full review of their onboard food & beverage offerings. Like, how can I not sample their “Premium Ready-To-Drink BuzzBallz Cocktails?”

And here’s to hoping I get this flight attendant (no, not the miserable-looking flight attendant doing the actual demo, but rather the lovely gentleman singing):


Stay tuned for the full report!

Has anyone flown Spirit? What should I expect?

  1. Looking forward to this more than any of your first class reviews. I hope you can sleep the night before your flight!

  2. I’ve flown them once. ONCE!! That was years ago, and my knees haven’t forgiven me since.

    I’m really interested in an in-depth review of them, see how they are since I last flew.

  3. Took Spirit once, and that’s it.
    Never took so long to book a flight, with screen after screen wanting to charge me to do anything. Maybe they have updated their website since, but I’m not about to try it.
    Was just for a simple SAN-LAS flight.

  4. She’s so Lucky, she’s a star…
    But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart, thinking…
    “Why did I book this flight?”

    I’ve only flown Spirit once… and that’s the ONLY time in my flying history where the oxygen mask came down. They offered a $50 flight credit. Good luck!!!

  5. Believe it or not, Spirit also has PreCheck. I had to add mine after purchasing, but it saved a lot of time since the PreCheck crowds tend to steer clear of Spirit.

  6. The DFW – ATL Spirit 165 was delayed over 2 hours to a non descript “Mechanical Issue” and landed in ATL and sat on taxiway for 40+ mins before it found a gate. Sometimes there is more than what meets the eye.

  7. Wow Lucky!!! Spirit Airlines is weird!!!! I’ve flown Frontier and it’s OK. On Frontier they have the tiniest tray tables in the world!!
    @Lucky, is the Hilton HHonors Surpasss card a good card, you get at least 3X points on everything!
    P.S. There’s a cool extension for Google Flights that shows you the legroom for your flights and if you are in business, it will show if it is an angle flat, flat bed, etc. It is called legrooms for Google Flights. Keep up the good work on your blog!!!

  8. Clearly at that point you’ll become the only person on the planet to have ever flown in both The Residence and on Spirit.

  9. I flew them once……only in the Big Front Seat. Other than being delayed 30 minutes, it was a great flight. As long as you’re aware of all the fees (I’m sure you are) Spirit isn’t so bad. I have friends that book them just because their the cheapest, then complain about all the fees (carry on cost more than checked). I felt bad for my 6’4″ friend that didn’t know the seats were “pre-reclined” on his flight from BOS to LAS.

  10. I don’t hate Spirit. Those who load on the hate, don’t put in the research about what to expect.

    You get what you pay for and you’re told what you have to pay. Your ticket price includes only a seat on the plane – not any specific seat. Extra charges are designed to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. They want you to print out your own boarding pass. If you don’t, they charge you. They want you to pay to check your bag and do it early. If you don’t, it’ll cost you even more if you try to carry it on. If you want to pick your seat, do it in advance and pay for the privilege. Food and drink service costs them money so if you want it, you pay for it.

    Planes sitting around without carrying passengers cost money too so they don’t build slack into their schedule. Thus, you’re likely to be late. If something goes wrong, e.g., a cancellation, you’re pretty much out of luck as they really can’t do too much to accommodate you. They’re schedules aren’t built that way and they don’t interline. Thus, you can get a refund but you won’t be getting where you wanted to go.

    The bottom line — all of that is known. It is part of the deal. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a ticket. I usually don’t.

  11. Actually I flown Spirit I would say around 10 times in the last 2-3 years and with the kids- ages 8 and 4 now and couldn’t find even a single bad thing to say about it. Yes, you have to pay for everything but knowing this in advance doesn’t seems a big thing to me to print your boarding passes at home etc. and the prices are in some instances the best so this is what I am going for.

  12. Flew them last month because they are the only airline at ACY. Had a big comfy seat and I was pleasantly surprised! Super-fast and efficient boarding due to nobody wanting to pay to carry on bags! Of course I set the bar real low prior to even arriving at the airport.

  13. It’s funny how an aviation geek that is able to fly the world in premium classes on premium airlines WANTS to fly on Spirit.

  14. I won a free flight voucher when they commenced service at PDX. But I just couldn’t bring myself to actually fly them….
    Good luck!

  15. I booked a last-minute flight on Spirit once (last minute weekend trip) and actually bought my ticket at the airport counter, since they were charging an $18 ONLINE BOOKING FEE. For a 45 minute flight it wasn’t the worst, and packing only a personal item (backpack) it was 100% worth it.

  16. @Lucky – I wouldn’t be surprised if you actually wind up liking it a little (like TPG did).

    Love how they also basically just copied Scoot branding with the yellow and black, typeface, etc.

  17. @Lucky – I’ve flown them twice. Once in regular econ and once upfront. I’m 6″3 and the 28″ pitch just was not doable. That said, the first class seats are very reasonable and comfortable. I don’t think you’re going to suffer at all.

  18. I am a Spirit fan. Usually the Big Front Seat costs me the same as a seat on a traditional. If flying economy, Spirit BFS is my preferred mode of travel

  19. I flew them once in a Big Front Seat. Comfortable enough, but lack of free refreshments was really disappointing.

  20. Not sure what’s funnier, the guy singing or the look on the FA up front who is very much over the dude it. Cant say I blame him, that song is probably humorous the first time….by the 3rd or 4th time I had to hear that I can see going JetBue FA out the slide as a real possibility.

  21. Since you’re in a big front seat I’m mostly worried that you’ll find out how good Spirit is and tell other people. Seriously, they do scare me on remote airport locations where a mechanical could shut you down for the day. Other than that you’ll likely find it enjoyable depending on how full the flight it.

  22. Definitely get the Platinum 7X Vodka. I just looked it up, the street price is $16 for a handle.
    I just booked a Gulfstream IV flight, we should exchange pics during the flight to compare.

  23. If it was April 1st, I would’ve thought this was an April Fool’s joke. I’ve flown them twice, both times flights were on time and on schedule, FLL-LGA and ORD-LGA. Sat on econ both times, the padding is definitely thin and my ORD-LGA flight had rambunctious kids behind me playing with the seat tray, but other than that, the FAs were nice, cheerful, and friendly. As long as people research their business model, it’s not bad getting you from point A to point B.

  24. A friend of mine is on their Board of Directors and they swear there’s a method to their “madness” (my word, not theirs). I’ll be anxious to read this and share with my friend as they’re always interested in reading news about Spirit, and then defending it (for some reason!)

  25. Seems like, flying Spirit, it you booked with a card that offered trip delay insurance so you could get yourself home on another carrier if need be (ie. they cancel your return flight from Peru, their one flight per week), you would be more safe. I’ve never done this but it seems to be a decent idea.

  26. Actually, it looks like my idea might not work as far as a replacement ticket goes. But obviously if you could wait until the next Spirit flight, delay costs would be insured.

  27. @lucky, there are a few tricks to save even more on your ticket price. E.g. if u buy ur ticket at the airport( not day of flight ) u save 18 dollars one way. Plus if u check in at the self check kiosk about 3 hoirs before, you can snag a seat onnthe first economy row ( which usually is for $20) plus if u wait to check when only big front seats are left and emergency row. They will automatically seat u in the big front seat. I have done this 9/10 times. I fly houston-chicago a lot. Pay like 40 bucks all in. Get a front. Seat for free. Spend the 2 hours on the amex lounge filling up and feel good about the money I saved!

  28. YES!!!!!! I’m very much looking forward to this review!

    I want to see it reviewed like a proper airline. After all, they are charging more than American!

    Let’s see photos of the amuse bouche, pre-departure beverage, pyjamas, bedding, etc. For kicks, you could use your review of The Residence as a template.

    In the end, Spirit will get you to your destination…eventually… and that first glass of Krug you have on your next flight with a real airline will taste that much better!

  29. One tip: SIT AS CLOSE TO THE FRONT AS POSSIBLE. (There is no partition after the BFS and you are less likely to get your seat bumped in the front.

  30. OMG! I just about die over from laughing so hard!!!

    I just cant believe that you are doing this Lucky!!!!

  31. Sorry, I’m a bit late. Now that you’ve done my first dare, I shall propose a *SECOND* one! Stay at the worst rated hotel for a particular city/town. It can be any city/town, but you must stay at the worst rated one on the list heh.

  32. One thing I really like about Spirit is the way they display taxes during booking. I think many of us would be shocked at how much of our domestic tickets go to taxes. It is much much more than the TSA fee.

  33. This is awesome! I’m totally looking forward to this review! Admittedly, I’ve been too scared to fly Spirit because of all the negative press, so I’m excited to see how your experience goes.

    Would Spirit know that Lucky is from OMAAT and provide extra friendly service? 😀

  34. I can a already predict what the review will say (the same thing for all terrible experiences): “not as bad as expected, and would fly again if the price/route is right”

  35. I’ve flown Spirit once and was mildly impressed. Bought my ticket at the airport, which knocked a $39 ticket down to $21. Also only flew with a personal item, so didn’t get nickled and dimed. The agent also oddly assigned me seats at the time of purchase.

    All-in-all, I find it to be a great option when you are flying to a leisure destination and don’t care if you take a delay or if IRROPS would torpedo all of your plans. But there is absolutely no chance in&^%& I’d ever use them for a business trip. If you value perks and interline agreements and the ability to work around IRROPS, pay more to fly a traditional airline. If you don’t care, then airlines like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant are great for Greyhound-like transportation from Point A to Point B.

  36. We flew Spirit from Oakland CA because of reasons – but I think you are totally missing the point (fun) of flying this super-bare airlines. I took on the personal challenge of working around all the fees – our carry-ons were the bomb. We took pics next to the “it must fit in here” sign. The service was nil. It was a bit like riding the bus. Which is fine when your intention is to ride the bus! The main reason I hesitate to fly with them again is there was a 4-hour delay. Not a lot of flights going out of Oakland.

  37. I think the funniest comment was those that pointed out that Lucky is almost certainly the only human who will have flow The Residence and Spirit. The venn diagram of the flying population that has flown these two products is 2 completely nonoverlapping circles.

  38. I would warn lucky to print his boarding pass at home, but I think it might be funnier if he didn’t.

  39. You´re actually gonna be surprised; obviously it´s a “you get what you pay/don´t expect any extras” product but I personally choose them over AA when flying to south Florida because I love getting to FLL instead of MIA which I dread! I always pay for the Big Front Seat and I´m always very pleased.

  40. Buzzballz are great. Back in college it was rumored to be illegal in some countries and vowed to make you hella drunk hella fast. They also taste real good.

  41. It’s honestly not that bad. It’s just like a low cost carrier in Asia. My flight was uneventful

  42. I fly them from FLL to ERW all the time.
    I fly united as well
    Now that united switched to basic economy I don’t see much of a difference
    Just the spiritnflight is usually an A321 amd the best United a 737
    None of them leave on time. Including delta whom left FLL to LGA 1.5 hrs late. We arrived 2 hours late to NYC
    Coming back home we arrived at the delta gate at the time printed on the boarding pass only to find people just getting off the plane. I thought. This is the same as spirit. Seriously. What the duck is the difference. Delta did this to me 2 times in the return flight from la guardia

  43. How about next time you have a week to spare you fly around Europe in all the LCCs? Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Pegasus, Jet2, Vueling, Wizzair, the list goes on… I’m sure you could fit in 4 flights per day and recommend the best for positioning flights ready for those Qatar Business Class deals.

  44. Lucky – since this is your first flight, and you’ve chosen an unreliable carrier, you need to know about IRROPS (Irregular Operations).

    When Spirit cancels on you, and you have no idea what to do, contact me and I’ll help you with “plan B”.

    (Actually, if I was doing this, I’d book a seat on Southwest with points as a backup, then refund the WN seat if Spirit actually operates their flight. But “life is too short to fly Spirit Airlines”.)

  45. is the worst airline, last Saturday spirit cancel my flight and offer to me another flight with different airline but if I want this flight have to paid almost $400.00 more, was
    ridiculous, Never again I bought a ticket for spirit, now am weating for my refund. I don’t recommend spirit to nobody

  46. I flew Spirit once from BOS to MYR. The plane was making some weird sounds the whole way there. The most prominent one sounded like people bouncing on an old metal spring bed.

  47. My experience with Spirit wasn’t actually terrible. Our flight attendant, Dwight was a perkier, less ‘large’, Stanley Hudson, who played the harmonica throughout the duration of the flight which was throughly entertaining. It was a short flight (BOS-FLL) in a 6-month-old A321 that still had the infamous new-plane-smell. The big front seats are basically a slightly firmer version of the Delta first class recliner without the triangular stitching. Pitch and width are virtually identical (Delta has a one inch gain on the width of their A321 seats). Perfectly fine and wouldn’t mind it for a transcontinental from JFK-LAX during the day.
    Not sure if this is a common complaint, but I will warn you in advance, they have the volume of the PA cranked up to what I think is it’s max (at least on my flight), so be prepared with that Bose headset of yours. During the service, I ordered the cheese platter which cost the same as a high-end artisan charcuterie and cheese board, however, had a disappointing quality. Overall I got lucky with my experience judging by some other spirit horror stories. Good luck!

  48. I have flown spirit almost once a month for a whole year from California to Missouri and back. I also tried Delta and Southwest. While you dont get as much legroom on Spirit as you do on Delta and Southwest, the plane ride on Spirit was definitely more enjoyable than the others. The flight attendants are more personable and caring. And the people on the plane are always friendlier. I have nothing bad to say about Spirit.

  49. I’ve flown Spirit a grand total of two times — my first time and my last time.

    They are awful. I too could have flown American for about $15 more than what I spent all-in on Spirit. (I thought I was going to save quite a bit.) It would have been worth multiple times that amount to avoid the experience.

    I think they call it Spirit because they suck the spirit (and fun) of traveling right out of you.

    But I like that they are around because they attract a certain type of traveler and reduce the numbers of those passengers on the normal airlines. Maybe someone will start thepeopleofSpirit.com. 😉

    Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *