Review: Spirit Airlines A321 Big Front Seat (FLL-AUS)

Review: Spirit Airlines A321 Big Front Seat (FLL-AUS)

FROM: FLL
TO: AUS
CABIN: Big Front Seat
DATE: December 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Ultra low cost carrier experiences don't get much better than this, between the Big Front Seat, high speed Wi-Fi, a lucrative frequent flyer program, and a friendly crew.
17

I recently spent a weekend in Austin, and I decided to fly Spirit Airlines on the outbound. While Spirit Airlines is known for being no frills, I’m quite a fan of the airline, especially if you approach your journey in the right way.

In this post I wanted to review Spirit Airlines’ Airbus A321 product, including the Big Front Seat, which is what I booked. Spirit Airlines offers an all around pleasant experience, between the Big Front Seat, high speed Wi-Fi, and a very friendly crew.

How I booked my Spirit Airlines ticket

Spirit Airlines is an ultra low cost carrier, meaning that the airline charges extra for just about everything. My ticket cost $87.14 including taxes & fees (it may have been cheaper if I had booked at the airport), and I booked the following flight:

12/08 NK517 Fort Lauderdale to Austin departing 1:15PM arriving 3:21PM

On top of that, I paid $120 to assign the Big Front Seat. While the premium for booking the Big Front Seat has increased significantly over time, I think it’s still fairly priced, especially when you consider that I spent over 3.5 hours in my seat.

On top of that, Spirit ordinarily charges for carry-ons and checked bags. However, I have Spirit Airlines Gold status (the Free Spirit program offers a status match challenge), so I receive a complimentary full size carry-on bag, and even a checked bag. Therefore I wasn’t out of pocket for any extra fees.

Spirit Airlines check-in & boarding

My 1:15PM flight from Fort Lauderdale to Austin was scheduled to board at 12:30PM, so I got to the airport a bit before 12PM. I had checked in online, and found Spirit’s app to be surprisingly great. Spirit Airlines departs from Terminal 4 at FLL, which is probably the best terminal at the airport.

Fort Lauderdale Airport terminal

My flight was departing from gate G4, located toward the end of the terminal. Boarding started right on-time, with Zone 1 passengers being invited to board first (that includes those who paid extra for a carry-on).

Spirit Airlines departure gate
Spirit Airlines bag sizers

Spirit Airlines A321 cabin & seats

My flight was operated by the Airbus A321 with the registration code N664NK, a nearly seven year old jet. It’s worth noting that the plane I was on had Spirit’s oldest interiors — the airline started installing new seats in 2019, and plans on introducing all-new interiors again as of early 2023. Across the board, the new seats seem to represent an improvement over the old product.

Spirit’s Airbus A321s feature a total of 228 seats. This includes eight Big Front Seats, and then 220 standard seats.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 cabin

Let’s first talk about the main part of the cabin. Standard economy seating is in a 3-3 configuration, as you’d expect on a narrow body jet. Seat pitch on Spirit Airlines starts at just 28″, which on the surface is incredibly tight.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 cabin

While I didn’t have the chance to actually sit in these seats, dare I say that the legroom didn’t look that bad? That’s especially true when you consider that the seats don’t recline, so no one will further encroach on your space.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 seats
Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 cabin

Interestingly the standard seats don’t have full size tray tables, but rather have much smaller tables than you’ll typically find. That shouldn’t be an issue in terms of food & drinks, given the limited selection. That being said, it’s not ideal if you want to work on a laptop, or want to watch entertainment from a personal device.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 seats

The Big Front Seats are at the front of the cabin — there are a total of eight of these seats, in a 2-2 configuration.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat cabin
Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat cabin

Big Front Seats are very similar to the first class seats you’d find on other airlines within the United States. The seats have 36″ of pitch, and feel quite spacious.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat cabin
Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat cabin

I assigned myself seat 1A, the window seat in the first row (it was the only one available when I booked).

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat

The seats do have headrests, which makes them a bit more comfortable when lounging around. I’d note that the seats aren’t as well padded as what you’d otherwise find in domestic first class, as the seats are quite thin.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat headrest

Unlike in the rest of the cabin, Big Front Seats have full size tray tables, which sure come in handy, especially if you’re looking to work on your laptop.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat tray table

In addition to the tray table, there was a center console where you could place drinks or personal belongings.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat center console

Much like in the main cabin, Spirit Big Front Seats don’t recline (or as Spirit likes to phrase it, they’re pre-reclined).

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 Big Front Seat no recline

The overhead console had individual air nozzles as well as reading lights.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 overhead console

Note that there are no power outlets on Spirit Airlines planes, including at Big Front Seats.

Since this was an older style cabin, the overhead bins weren’t the larger ones you’ll find on many newer Airbus jets. That should change over time, though frankly isn’t an issue one way or another on Spirit, since not that many people have carry-ons.

Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 overhead bins

All-in-all, I find the Spirit Big Front Seat to be a comfortable way to fly. The standard economy seats also don’t look as bad as you might assume, based on the 28″ of pitch.

Spirit Airlines departure from Fort Lauderdale

The boarding process was efficient, though did take quite some time, as you’d expect for a full flight with 220+ passengers. The crew was lovely during boarding, greeting each passenger with a big smile, and even inviting kids to visit the cockpit.

As longtime OMAAT readers will know, I’m a big fan of good airline boarding music, and Spirit Airlines has a very nice, calming track playing throughout boarding. At 1:10PM the main cabin door was closed, at which point the captain added his welcome aboard, informing us of our flight time of 2hr33min, and our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet.

After that, one of the flight attendants made her enthusiastic welcome aboard announcement, referring to herself as “the hostess with the mostest.” Lol. I love how she continued that announcement — “while safety is our priority, service is our passion.” What an awesome attitude. A few moments later the manual safety demonstration was performed.

We pushed back from the gate shortly after 1:10PM.

Pushing back from gate Fort Lauderdale Airport

We then started our taxi at 1:15PM, and had a pretty short journey to runway 10R. There we had to hold short for a few minutes, both as a Spirit A321 to Houston took off, and as another jet landed.

Taxiing Fort Lauderdale Airport

By 1:25PM we were cleared for takeoff. As usual, the views were great taking off into the east, out over the Atlantic, before making a sharp turn.

Taking off Fort Lauderdale Airport
View after takeoff from gate Fort Lauderdale Airport
View after takeoff from gate Fort Lauderdale Airport
View after takeoff from gate Fort Lauderdale Airport
View after takeoff from gate Fort Lauderdale Airport

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 20 minutes after takeoff.

Spirit Airlines high speed Wi-Fi

Spirit Airlines has done a fantastic job rolling out Wi-Fi throughout most of its fleet, as both A320s and A321s now have Thales’ FlytLIVE Wi-Fi. There was even a decal by the boarding door about this, as well as a pamphlet in my seatback.

Spirit Airlines aircraft Wi-Fi decal
Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi pamphlet

Connecting to Spirit’s Wi-Fi system was easy.

Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi portal
Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi portal

Spirit Airlines’ Wi-Fi pricing is reasonable, and ranges from $3.99-11.99 per flight for browsing, and from $6.99-14.99 for streaming. On this flight, a browsing pass was available for $6.99, while a streaming pass was available for $9.99.

Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi pricing

Interestingly even though Spirit charges for Wi-Fi, there’s still an ad you have to watch before you can access Wi-Fi. I wouldn’t expect any less from Spirit. 😉

Spirit Airlines Wi-Fi ad

On the plus side, the Wi-Fi speed was excellent. It worked consistently throughout the flight, with high speeds (unlike my return flight on Southwest, where it was unusable).

Spirit Airlines food & drink selection

Spirit Airlines charges extra for all food and drinks (except cups of ice, which I suppose could be a DIY approach to enjoying complimentary water). You can find the full menu below.

Spirit Airlines food & drink menu
Spirit Airlines food & drink menu
Spirit Airlines food & drink menu
Spirit Airlines food & drink menu

As you can see, you can either select things individually, or you can purchase bundles. Also note that Spirit Airlines Gold members receive a complimentary non-alcoholic drink and snack. You can select from any items with the Free Spirit (“S”) logo next to them.

For my complimentary selection, I ordered a Diet Coke and some pretzel twists. I also decided to order the cheese tray, just to take one for the team and report on Spirit’s most premium dining experience. 😉

Spirit Airlines food & drinks

The cheese tray included sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, american cheese, crackers, dried apples, and cranberries. Funny enough, Spirit seems to sell the same cheese plate you’ll find on Frontier.

Spirit Airlines cheese plate

I was surprised that when I mentioned to the flight attendant that I’m a Gold member (for the purpose of getting the food & drinks comped), he said “thanks for your business, I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these before” (referring to entering the comp item into the tablet for elite members). I guess Spirit doesn’t have that many elite members, heh.

Spirit Airlines A321 lavatories

Spirit has only three lavatories on its A321s, which isn’t a great ratio. One was at the front of the cabin, while two were in the back. Despite the limited number of lavatories, there weren’t consistently lines to use the forward lavatory. I guess if food & drinks are only available for purchase, people don’t have to use the bathroom as much.

On the plus side, the bathroom was reasonably clean, and people seemed to have pretty good bathroom etiquette (unlike on my Frontier flight a while back).

Spirit Airlines A321 lavatory

Spirit Airlines service

The five Spirit Airlines flight attendants on this flight were honestly exceptionally professional. I’ve generally found that Spirit has great employees, and this flight was no exception. I wrote about this in a bit more detail in a separate post, but they were professional, fun, entertaining, and great ambassadors for the airline. If only the average crew at a legacy airline were as good as these five…

Spirit Airlines arrival in Austin

A little over two hours after departing Fort Lauderdale, we began our descent toward Austin. The seatbelt sign was turned on around five minutes after that. It was a mostly smooth descent, though we did hit some bumps toward the end of the approach, as we passed through some thick clouds.

View approaching Austin Airport
View approaching Austin Airport
View approaching Austin Airport
View approaching Austin Airport
View approaching Austin Airport

We touched down in Austin at 2:55PM. From there we had a roughly five minute taxi to our arrival gate, and then it took another five minutes for the door to open, so we were still there well ahead of schedule.

Taxiing Austin Airport

Bottom line

I had a fantastic Spirit Airlines flight, and wouldn’t hesitate to fly with the airline again. Ultra low cost carriers bring valuable competition to the market, and Spirit is my favorite of these airlines. I love how Spirit has high speed Wi-Fi, the Big Front Seat, and a great frequent flyer program. On top of that, I had an awesome crew on this flight, which always makes a flight better — it’s nice to be around people who enjoy their jobs.

While as a Miami resident I still prefer flying American out of Miami, I’ll gladly fly Spirit again when the schedule or route is the best option.

If you’ve flown the Spirit Big Front Seat, what was your experience like?

Conversations (17)
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  1. 0504 Traveller Guest

    I have travelled on Spirit many times and I have always said, if you know what you are getting into and manage expectations then Spirit is not bad for a short-haul flight. The experience becomes more difficult and unbearable for the longer-haul flights. Previously, Spirit had a good deal where you could bring on a carry-on, select your seat, and board in Zone 2 and it was a good deal. They got rid of that...

    I have travelled on Spirit many times and I have always said, if you know what you are getting into and manage expectations then Spirit is not bad for a short-haul flight. The experience becomes more difficult and unbearable for the longer-haul flights. Previously, Spirit had a good deal where you could bring on a carry-on, select your seat, and board in Zone 2 and it was a good deal. They got rid of that and I am not sure why - they have also reduced their capacity in a lot of their short-haul routes to now they only have one flight a day between those city pairs - if that has a delay or get cancelled; then what?

  2. Bob Guest

    Big front seat is the only way to fly. And @ a substantially! lower price than other airlines first or business class price.

  3. gideyup11 Member

    @Ben: Just curious how you qualified for Spirit Gold status? Are there any other ways to earn Spirit Gold other than flying? I fly Spirit out of FLL (along with JetBlue mostly), but I don't fly as much as pre-pandemic so was wondering if there's any other ways to earn Spirit Gold (which as you said is very valuable).

    1. Ivan X New Member

      Spirit has a status match. You'll need to have non-bottom-rung status on a competing airline to get Spirit Gold for 90 days (extended if you meet a reduced threshold):

      https://customersupport.spirit.com/en-us/category/article/KA-01493

  4. Emily Guest

    It's been a while since I have flown aboard Spirit. This review may actually entice me to try again when I am back.

    The last time I flew Spirit between Chicago and Seattle, the FA had to give an earful to an inebriated passenger, who emptied their bowels on the adjacent seat (thankfully empty) halfway through....

  5. iamhere Guest

    Hopefully you had some credit card airline credits. That's another way to cover the fees. Many credit cards have airline incidental credits that cover extra expenses.

  6. NedsKid Member

    United serves that same cheese tray in First Class as the cold breakfast option with cereal. I'm not sure if that makes Spirit more classy or United less so?

  7. Joe bear Guest

    They only have 8 good seats , they are hard to get . The crews are amazing!!
    I prefer Delta as first choice, most seats are comfortable, TV’s wifi and great crew .

  8. ArnoldB Guest

    $9 for a small can of beer, what is wrong with you americans

    1. DCharlie Guest

      Be thankful. If it were cheaper, the entire cabin would be drunk and definitely brawls would break out.

  9. Syd Guest

    Yet to fly Spirit, but that seat on a 3.5 hour flight for around $200 looks like an amazing deal. Big three would've charged triple for a bit of a recline and a crappy meal.

    1. 305 Guest

      No working WiFi and first class seat that didn't recline on my AA flight last night. Spirit almost looks good in comparison

  10. Johosofat Guest

    Ha! Flying Spirit from gate G4 (Allegiant IATA airline code)

  11. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    Ok Ben, how’d you get those empty cabin pictures!? Don’t tell me you were the only individual in zone 1.

  12. AA is awful Guest

    I routinely fly Spirt from IAH-CUN and never had a problem. As long and you understand all the rules it’s no different than flying AA. I see no reason to pay triple to fly United for a 2 hour ride at that same time .

  13. Alpha Golf Member

    A bit weird. That exact line -- "while safety is our priority, service is our passion" -- is standard UA spiel introducing the safety briefing.

    And I was served that exact cheese plate on GoJet (UAx) on Monday.

  14. LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS Guest

    The biggest problem with Spirit is that if your flight (esp. connecting flight) gets delayed, the next one might be a few days later (instead of a few hours later on a non-low cost carrier).

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

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DCharlie Guest

Be thankful. If it were cheaper, the entire cabin would be drunk and definitely brawls would break out.

2
305 Guest

No working WiFi and first class seat that didn't recline on my AA flight last night. Spirit almost looks good in comparison

2
Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

Ok Ben, how’d you get those empty cabin pictures!? Don’t tell me you were the only individual in zone 1.

1
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