I Flew Spirit Airlines, And It Was Kind Of Awesome

I Flew Spirit Airlines, And It Was Kind Of Awesome

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Some of you may remember my post a few months back entitled “I Flew Frontier Airlines, And It Was Kind Of Awful.” Well, yesterday I flew Spirit Airlines, and I found the flight to be pleasant on many levels. To me it’s further proof that not all ultra low cost carriers are created equal.

Why I flew with Spirit Airlines

Long story short, I needed to fly from the West Palm Beach area to Austin. There are no nonstop flights, though Spirit Airlines had a well timed flight out of Fort Lauderdale. That seemed like a better option to me than driving all the way to Miami to fly American, and it also seemed like a better option than connecting.

The fare was cheap, and then I paid roughly $100 extra to assign one of the Big Front Seats, which are essentially first class seats without the amenities (or price tag). While the Big Front Seats aren’t the consistent bargain they used to be, this seemed like a good value in order to be comfortable and productive for three hours.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 in Fort Lauderdale

What I like about Spirit Airlines

Spirit is probably my favorite ultra low cost carrier in the world. Of course ultra low cost carriers are all about low fares, no frills, and a la carte pricing, but Spirit does things a bit differently than other ultra low cost carriers.

Spirit does a good job striking a balance between having low fares, and realizing that some people still value a decent experience. Not everyone flies Spirit because it’s marginally cheaper than competitors, but rather there’s something to be said for flying Spirit for convenience (because the airline operates a route nonstop, has a good schedule, etc.), as was the case with me yesterday.

And that also gets at why I’m a fan of Spirit:

  • Spirit has high speed streaming Wi-Fi available for purchase throughout its A320 and A321 fleet; Spirit is the only ultra low cost carrier in the United States to consistently offer Wi-Fi
  • Spirit has the Big Front Seat, making it the only ultra low cost carrier in the United States to offer a product like this; this is a great alternative to first class, as it’s a fraction of the cost
  • Spirit has quite a compelling loyalty program, and even has valuable elite perks that can get you all kinds of waived fees; Spirit even has a status match challenge program
  • Spirit actually does invest in making its product better, even with its tight seating; the airline keeps rolling out new seats that appear to be genuine improvements in terms of comfort
  • This is nuanced, but I find Spirit to be one of the most honest ultra low cost carriers with how it communicates its product offering; Frontier pretends it offers an awful experience in the name of the environment, while Spirit doesn’t try to play that disingenuous card

Essentially what it comes down to for me is that if I have space and high speed Wi-Fi, I’m happy as a clam (assuming clams are happy, I dunno), so I can be as productive as on the ground. There aren’t many ultra low cost carriers that make this possible.

Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat on Airbus A321

The joys of flying with Spirit Airlines

Honestly what made my Spirit Airlines flight so great was the people — particularly the crew, but also the passengers. Let me explain in a bit more detail.

A fun & professional Spirit Airlines crew

I was seated in row one, and I always enjoy observing how crews treat others, and how well aligned they are with what their company promises to deliver. The five flight attendants on this flight were all ridiculously friendly and entertaining. Spirit might not have seatback entertainment, but the crew provided nonstop entertainment. I mean, the flight was basically an emceed event, and (surprisingly?) I loved it.

The flight attendants were honestly just top notch ambassadors for Spirit Airlines, and I wish the average crew on legacy airlines were this good. It’s not just what they said, but how they said it — it came across as genuine. Here are just a few examples:

  • Rather than the typical “flight attendants are here primarily for your safety” announcement that you hear on other airlines, the flight attendant started her PA by saying “while safety is our priority, service is our passion,” and it showed
  • The crew literally encouraged passengers to use the flight attendant call button — “if you need anything during the flight, whether it’s a tissue or a cup of ice, feel free to use the call button, we’re here to serve you”
  • The crew was so in tune with Spirit’s product offering — when the person across from me asked if the Big Front Seats reclines, without skipping a beat, the flight attendant responded “the seats are pre-reclined for your pleasure”
  • There was a passenger asking about Spirit’s planes and safety, and the flight attendant reassured her by saying “we have one of the newest fleets in the country, and we’ve never had a fatal accident, I like to say that we offer quality on a budget”

Then there was the inflight trivia portion of the flight, which I honestly found to be hilarious and entertaining. Passengers had to press their call buttons to guess, and could win prizes, ranging from little Spirit plane toys, to bonus miles. Questions included:

  • What’s a pilot’s favorite kind of bagel?
  • What’s the name of at least one flight attendant onboard?
  • What are the two ways to inflate a life vest?

And you’ll be shocked to hear that the trivia portion of the flight turned into the credit card pitch portion of the flight. Look, as someone who partly makes a living through affiliate marketing, I respect someone who can hustle, and that’s exactly what this crew did. It was one of the smoothest transitions and best and most honest pitches I’ve ever seen.

The flight attendants were extremely knowledgable not just about the Spirit Airlines credit card, but also about the Spirit Airlines loyalty program.

Spirit Airlines economy seats on Airbus A321

Happy & friendly passengers

For all the stories we hear of fights on Spirit Airlines, the 200+ people on this flight were among the kindest, most lovely people I’ve flown with. Everyone just seemed happy, courteous, and patient. I know that’s a weird observation, because typically when I fly I don’t think “everyone on this flight seems happy and like they had a good time.”

But on this flight… everyone seemed happy and like they had a good time. That might partly be because this was one of the most extroverted crowds I’ve ever seen on a plane. I feel like everyone was talking to their seatmate, and by the end of the flight were exchanging numbers and making plans to meet again.

Passengers also seemed to understand basic airplane etiquette. This was just quite a contrast to my Frontier flight a while back, where people used the lavatory without closing the door, went into the bathroom barefoot, kept trying to take big bags into the bathroom, etc.

Admittedly this might be more reflective of the route rather than the airline, though.

Nice views don’t cost extra, even on Spirit Airlines

Bottom line

Spirit Airlines is the only ultra low cost carrier in the United States that I don’t try to avoid, as the airline offers the Big Front Seat and high speed Wi-Fi. If Spirit has the best schedule, I’m a happy camper, as I have space and can stay productive.

What impresses me pretty consistently about Spirit is the quality of employees. I find Spirit flight attendants to be friendly, and like they’re really aligned with the mission of the company. Not only do they provide genuine care and service, but they’re really good at pitching the loyalty program and credit card, so my hats are off to them for that.

Personally I still hope that JetBlue’s takeover of Spirit doesn’t get approved, because Spirit brings something unique to the market that isn’t otherwise offered.

Anyone else a fan of Spirit, or what’s your take?

Conversations (57)
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  1. Andy Guest

    This same EXACT thing happened to me on a flight from Dallas To Las Vegas and also on an A321. I love spirit airlines and yeah, it is not super comfortable but for fares as low as $30 it is so worth it.

  2. Andy Guest

    Similar experience - recently fly Spirit due to nonstop and times that worked perfectly with my schedule. The big front seats were nice for extra space, wifi worked, interior was clean, and staff was friendly and helpful.

  3. iamhere Guest

    The entire article is about how entertaining and fun the staff were. Depends. In some way some of the time it may be fine. Otherwise it may be borderline unprofessional and if for the whole flight or too long it may become annoying. There is a difference between prompt, professional, and friendly service and this.

  4. Bill Guest

    Totally agree with the positive comments. I've used Spirit regularly for several years on a route where I had other choices. Crew is always great, and they operate a very new and well maintained fleet of Airbus aircraft. Hope the merger/ takeover doesn't take it all away.

  5. Christopher A Smith Guest

    Spirit is my airline, simply the best low budget, I flew frontier for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it was the worst experience, the flight from Chicago to Atlanta was delayed for almost 14 hours, then they busted my new suitcase and try to offer me $25 voucher that I can only use with them, never will I fly frontier again, and that's what I get for cheating on spirit..

  6. Dd Guest

    I only fly on spirit and I love them

  7. David B Guest

    I have flown Spirit Airlines a few times. I don't like the seats they a rock hard and don't recline. It always comes up as the least expensive but by the time you add everything in that everyone else has it's the same or more expensive. And of course many other airlines are following suit in this disgraceful behavior of charging you to pick your seat and they don't even offer a beverage on board the flights without charging you. I fly spirit Airlines when I have to.

  8. Victor mendez Guest

    I fly spirit to honduras.my airline thank you!! The best

  9. Chris Guest

    I have had the worst experiences with Jet Blue, not only as an airline but as any company I have had to interact with. Their app and booking portal glitched repeatedly on my most recent trips. Even when I caught the glitches and tried to get the errors corrected they acted like they couldn't do anything to help me. In the end I lost $300 from my bank account but initially was charged double so...

    I have had the worst experiences with Jet Blue, not only as an airline but as any company I have had to interact with. Their app and booking portal glitched repeatedly on my most recent trips. Even when I caught the glitches and tried to get the errors corrected they acted like they couldn't do anything to help me. In the end I lost $300 from my bank account but initially was charged double so I didn't have my planned spending money for a trip out of the country. They also moved my travel bank voucher to the refundable ticket purchase and not the one I bought with my bank card. I spent 8+ hours on the phone or through the chat and never got anything fixed even though the issues were on their end. When I told them that I loved Spirit and never planned to use Jet Blue again after they mishandled a flight cancelation and kept the passengers on the tarmac for almost 4 hours which kept everyone flying home until very early the next morning. I lost all my appointments with clients and lost a full day to enjoy the country I was visiting and had a full day of travel without going anywhere. They gave us a $300 travel credit for that mess but the "glitch" didn't allow me to use it for my next flight. They told me "don't worry if you love Spirit, after the merger you can use the travel credit for them if it's still valid." SMH. I wouldn't wish that travel voucher on my worst enemy. (Except maybe Jet Blue but they already have a tight grip on it)

  10. Tom S Guest

    What did they pay you to write this? This airline is as janky as they get. If you add on the extras to make it tolerable, it costs as much as an airline that's not run by somebody in their basement with a rotary phone and adding machine. Their refund/credit policy is useless so make sure nothing in your life changes before booking a vacation. Of course you can pay yet another fee to allow...

    What did they pay you to write this? This airline is as janky as they get. If you add on the extras to make it tolerable, it costs as much as an airline that's not run by somebody in their basement with a rotary phone and adding machine. Their refund/credit policy is useless so make sure nothing in your life changes before booking a vacation. Of course you can pay yet another fee to allow one trip modification.

    Of course, my favorite is their flight plan from Cleveland to NYC.....through Orlando. Are you kidding?

    The saying, "you get what your pay for" has stuck for reason, thanks in part to Spirit.

  11. MJ Hawkins Guest

    I've flowen many times with them and each time had been a pleasure...
    I go out of my way to fly with them...
    I agree...hope JetBlue doesn't mess it up

  12. joltedjots New Member

    I flew few days ago from Las Vegas. It was better than I thought. I bought an exit row seat and had all three seats for myself. The flight was 40% full and wish the internet was working.

  13. Elijah Guest

    Funnily enough, I heard that exact same “safety is our priority but service is our passion” turn of phrase on a United flight recently and also made note of how good it was. Guess that’s working its way through the industry pretty quickly…

  14. Joe Smith Guest

    Agreed, it's a great company to work for. I hope the Jet Blue merger is blocked because JB has to borrow all $3 billion to buy Spirit and its painfully obvious big cuts will have to be made. People will definitely lose there jobs

  15. Andy Diamond

    Apparently (I have not flown them) Arajet is copying that business model with 8 „Wide front seats“, as they name them. Arajet is based in SDQ and financed by Bain Capital. So far, it doesn‘t operate to the US, but it plans to do so soon.

  16. Joan Barnhill Guest

    We recently flew Spirit for the first time. Boston to Ft Lauderdale and on to St Croix We also had purchased the big seats, sat in row 1 the entire trip both ways. I agree with all you have said. I absolutely would have no problem flying this airline again

  17. Gregsdc New Member

    Quick poll:

    You have a choice between two direct flights, same price all in, legacy carrier economy or Spirit BFS. Which do you choose?

    1. Steve Diamond

      BFS all day long.

  18. frans Guest

    Big front seat is good. But if you are an average sized male next to an average sized male in coach, you are screwed on Spirit. So tight, no shoulder room. Even rubbing shoulders, one of you will be leaning into the aisle. Why isn't seat width government mandated better. Who cares about 1 FA per 50 passengers. 1 to 200 would be fine. I'm over 6 feet tall, but what I really need is shoulder room!

    1. Alex Guest

      Six abreast in an A320 is the same width on any airline.

  19. BNA Carpet Guest

    Ok, tell us what a pilot’s favorite bagel is…

  20. Ann Guest

    Favourite low cost in the world?

    Out of what a sample size that you've actually flown, especially enough to judge....

  21. SBS Guest

    I've flown Spirit a number of times, mostly because of the non-stop flights to where I needed to go (BOS-ACY and BOS-MYR) at convenient times. $25 for the BFS to MYR was a no brainer, but even in regular seats the flights were perfectly fine - mostly thanks to crew and their priceless announcements. "In the event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks and credit card machines will drop from the compartment above your...

    I've flown Spirit a number of times, mostly because of the non-stop flights to where I needed to go (BOS-ACY and BOS-MYR) at convenient times. $25 for the BFS to MYR was a no brainer, but even in regular seats the flights were perfectly fine - mostly thanks to crew and their priceless announcements. "In the event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks and credit card machines will drop from the compartment above your seats. If your credit card is declined, try to hold your breath. Put your own mask on first before helping your husband."

  22. ThetruthIs Guest

    I agree with your take on Spirit. I fly regional airlines (non-stop only) from TPA, Breeze to Charleston, Silver to Key West and PNS and Spirit to MSY and Houston. Spirit is by far the best and to purchase a "Big Front Seat" for a small additional amount or when they're taken, an exit row seat, makes for greater comfort. I also agree that the people on certain routes are culturally different. My two worse Spirit flights was NY-FLL-NY.

  23. PB Guest

    They have the most wonderful pilot in the woooooorld! New, young pilot. Happens to be my son, but hey, I’m not biased at aaaaalllllll.

  24. Concerned Person Guest

    I flew Spirit once and there was this awful smell for the duration of the flight. It was like burning toast. I like toast, but not if it is burnt. I won't fly them again.

  25. Brian Guest

    You’ve lost all credibility.

  26. Victor R Guest

    U got lucky with ur flight. Spirit is as bad if Not Worse than Frontier. They all suck, no class, they don’t have in their vocabulary “treating customers right and customer service comes first and foremost “. VR.

  27. JayC Member

    whoa..... Blink twice if you are under duress. I'll wait.

  28. Troy Guest

    bought my first spirit flight ever, they charged mexico tourism tax by default, I sent them an email after the purchase, as mexico resident, don't need to pay this. I was not expecting they even bother to reply me. Guess what, after 30 days, they refund the tax directly!

  29. D3kingg Guest

    Next time be a big boy ; drive to MIA and fly American . Get the miles and LPs. Maybe Spirit was pleasant but unless you used a credit card and earn 5X with any airline you know better than that.

  30. Johnny Guest

    That "Nice View" captioned photo is my version of hell. My God. To each his own!

  31. Belinda Marries Guest

    I rode on Aligiant once and spirit 2 times the flight attendants were very nice they helped me with my bag to put in the cabin when I didn't have leg room I will definitely fly with again in the future

  32. Bagoly Guest

    Five cabin crew on a A320/321 !
    Easyjet and Ryanair (OK, B737, but similar size) have four, so they have two pairs to do the trolley services (which make money)
    BA has three - one for "Business" and two for Economy, since they are more focussed on cutting costs than making money.
    Are Spririt aiming for (and achieving?) more ancillary sales?
    What do the US3, and other US LCCs do?

    1. JB Guest

      The FAA requires atleast 1 FA for every 50 passengers. Spirit's A321s have more than 200 seats (228), so it requires 5 flight attendants by law. I guess that's the trade off with more seats on a plane.

      American's A321s have 185 seats (16F, 169Y), so I believe they staff their A321s with 4 FAs.

  33. DenB Diamond

    For me, the issue with "liking" or not liking LCC and ULCC airlines is Fleet Utilization, which is a proxy for on-time performance. If a United plane goes mechanical in Austin, how long will I be stranded in Austin, waiting for a replacement/solution? United can pull a "spare plane" out of its hat and get pax moving. A LCC with "all planes busy all the time" hasn't got a spare plane.

    1. AA70 Diamond

      Not even specific to U/LCCs, but just good life advice in general. If I leave from an outstation I try and plan a longer connection. Worst case I'll have to kill time in the hub airport when connecting which isnt always the worst thing

  34. Ethan Guest

    BFS is the way to go.

    I enjoy flying Spirit, they staff can really make the trip! Glad you had a good crew.

  35. Trey Guest

    I'd buy a Spirit ticket on their big front seats for leisure trips but if you need to be somewhere on a tight schedule (meeting, connecting flight on separate ticket), I'd stay away based on their on time performance and poor customer service for re-accommodations. @Lucky from Palm Beach you could've taken Tri-rail to MIA!

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Trey

      I’m on team fly to MIA and catch that American flight. No disrespect to Spirit. If Ben says it was a good experience sure it was.

    2. D3kingg Guest

      @Trey

      *Drive or what you said train.

  36. Carol Guest

    Clams aren’t happy. That’s just marketing BS from the clam fishing industry.

  37. JetAway Guest

    I have several friends who work for Spirit. They love the company (and their exceptional employee health plan). And they are very worried about their future if the JetBlue merger goes through.

  38. CMX Guest

    I don't try to avoid Spirit but have never taken them ironically they are not "budget" for me; Spirit charges so many other fees that it always ends up to be more expensive than traditional carriers for me (personally I don't check bags and always have to pay for carry on with Spirit, but not so for most other major carriers).

  39. Greg Guest

    Flew Spirit in BFS from Oak-EWR, would do it again in heartbeat!

  40. Tim Dunn Diamond

    It's worth noting that DOT data shows that NK's year to date on-time performance is just a tad below Southwest which is a few percent below the industry average but 6-10 points higher than Frontier, Allegiant or merger partner JetBlue.
    When NK's operation falls apart, it falls apart spectacularly but they generally run a better operation than their ULCC competitors.
    People are happier when they get where they need to be.

    1. Ken Guest

      Perhaps you should start your own blog to give us these technical details/financial spreadsheet info (and your Pro-Delta stance) which you love spewing out whenever these bloggers write what is obviously their opinion about products they fly and their experiences. While I find them insightful, it does often feel to come out of left field, and is usually a buzzkill

    2. Andrew B Guest

      Wasn’t it the old CEO that said that if their on-time performance was good it was a bad thing? (Referring to keeping rotations quick)

    3. NedsKid Member

      Andrew,
      I believe the philosophy is along the lines of: Spirit wants to be about industry average. You can always buy on time performance - in the way of block time. Always just a few minutes late? Schedule each flight gate to gate 6 minutes longer, now you're on time. Airlines like United, American, Delta do this with some frequency (more so in the past). This is expensive - because crew pay frequently runs...

      Andrew,
      I believe the philosophy is along the lines of: Spirit wants to be about industry average. You can always buy on time performance - in the way of block time. Always just a few minutes late? Schedule each flight gate to gate 6 minutes longer, now you're on time. Airlines like United, American, Delta do this with some frequency (more so in the past). This is expensive - because crew pay frequently runs on block time or scheduled time, greater of the two, so you are baking in more crew costs to start. Plus add those extra minutes on each flight, now fewer minutes left to schedule for something else, so lower utilization.

      Spirit may do some block padding here and there (and especially does in new markets until getting good data) but would rather eek out a couple minutes through process improvement than outright buy it. Spirit has done a few things in the last 5 years like increased the minimum ground times, even allowing extra time for flight attendant crew change in certain cities or more on international flights where things just take longer with paperwork.

  41. GBOAC Diamond

    Your description of the crew on this flight sounds like that of many crews on Southwest back 20 years ago -- casual, humorous, a bit irreverent, and willing to burst into song:-)
    I can still remember many of their jokes -- my favorite the "Gone with the Wind" joke

  42. Chris Guest

    Personable, kind, funny staff bring out the best in passengers.

    Wow! A new discovery!

    Don’t tell the competition, the current staff is not trained or supervised in this astonishing way of treating passengers.

    And fingers off that call bell unless there is an imminent safety issue.

    1. NedsKid Member

      I know that Spirit has a lot of flight attendants who used to fly for other airlines.... TWA, Pan Am. I guess having a huge crew base in retirement land helps. I had a Captain wearing an Ozark ball cap recently on my Spirit flight and a flight attendant who told me he took a buy-out from Northwest where he was flying as a purser international but now has been with Spirit almost a decade and just likes being home in Detroit almost every night.

  43. Jason Guest

    I've flown them twice this year in the big front seat, and it's been a pleasure each time.

    1. jim6555 New Member

      Just keep in mind that each Spirit A320/A321 flight has no more than 8 big front seats. The other 200 or so passengers have to endure the torture of 28" seat pitch. I have never flown on one of their A319 aircraft but have read that these smaller planes do not have big front seats.

  44. eponymous coward Guest

    Flew them SEA-LAS not too long ago. Very similar experience, except the WiFi was kaput. Also the Big Front Seat was about $60, my overall ticket was $110.

    Still had an Alaska ticket I cancelled as a backup… because Spirit.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

JetAway Guest

I have several friends who work for Spirit. They love the company (and their exceptional employee health plan). And they are very worried about their future if the JetBlue merger goes through.

5
Tim Dunn Diamond

It's worth noting that DOT data shows that NK's year to date on-time performance is just a tad below Southwest which is a few percent below the industry average but 6-10 points higher than Frontier, Allegiant or merger partner JetBlue. When NK's operation falls apart, it falls apart spectacularly but they generally run a better operation than their ULCC competitors. People are happier when they get where they need to be.

4
Alex Guest

Six abreast in an A320 is the same width on any airline.

2
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