When Chris decided he wanted to go to Vegas for his 30th birthday, I was totally on board! The only problem? We just used all our airline miles for our February California trip. This means we need to pay out of pocket for our airline tickets, and when I’m only going for a few days, I’m looking for the cheapest option possible!
Through Expedia (which also gave us cash back via eBates, score!) we found the cheapest fare was Spirit Airlines. I flew Spirit back in 2013, shortly after it first launched. It was…less than stellar, to be honest. Spirit has become the butt of many Family Guy jokes in the past few years, and is famous for their policy of making you pay for EVERYTHING. Yes, even WATER has a charge on Spirit!
Still, we were only going for a few days, and I wanted to save my money for the casinos – so Spirit was the way to go!
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FREE Spirit Program
The first thing I did after we bought our tickets was to sign up for the FREE Spirit reward program. This is Spirit’s version of a frequent flyer program. I ALWAYS sign up for frequent flyer programs when I fly a new airline, because you never know when you’ll need to fly that particular airline again.
The only problem was trying to link my reservation (which I had booked via Expedia) to my new FREE Spirit account. I kept getting an error on the site when I tried, and I had to email customer support. It was kind of a pain at first, as I just got a generic automated response – but once I replied to the email that my problem had still not been solved, a REAL person got on and fixed it for me. So all in all, not bad customer service – I just had to be patient.
The big sell for Spirit is their “bare fares” – this means you pay for your ticket, one personal item, and nothing else. Want to pick your seat? That’s a charge. Want to take a carry on with you? That’s a charge. This was primarily WHY we had picked Spirit – we were only going to Vegas for 4 days. Chris and I don’t need separate carry ons for that amount of time, so we paid for just one carry on and used backpacks for the rest of our stuff. We packed snacks for the plane so we didn’t end up paying for anything, even water!
I did splurge a bit and pay for advanced boarding (because I’m paranoid about having overhead space for my bag) and to pick our seats so we could sit together. Even with these add ons, it was still significantly cheaper than flying one of the larger airlines. Even if I hadn’t bought those extras, I think we would have been fine boarding in the later boarding groups. Since not everyone had a carry on, it didn’t seem like anyone on either flight – even our sold out return flight- had issues finding overhead space!
So if you’re headed somewhere for the weekend and can get everything you need in one backpack – this airline is a no brainer.
This was the part I was most nervous for, to be honest. As I said above, I flew this airline when they were just starting. The seats were SUPER rigid and uncomfortable, and service was less than stellar.
I’m happy to report in the five years since my first Spirit flight, their quality has improved TREMENDOUSLY. Our pilot on our flight to Vegas was hysterical. He could have been a Jungle Cruise skipper, he was throwing down so many jokes! He was also well aware that Spirit has had a rough reputation in the past, and said things like “Don’t worry, we won’t charge you for flushing the toilet, I promise!”
The seats were still not first-class quality by any means, but they were doable for the four hour flight. They are a definite improvement over the older planes. Spirit boasts that they have some of the youngest planes in the skies. You could definitely tell that these planes were NEW – but let’s be real. They were built to transport as many people as possible, so comfort was not the #1 priority. Poor Chris, who is 6’4″, was squished into his tiny seat and had to sit sideways to prevent being cramped up!
The flight attendants were all very nice and polite, and no one pushed us to buy overpriced food we didn’t want. Their menu selection has greatly improved as well – we debated getting a combo that included two alcoholic drinks and M&Ms for just $17 but didn’t end up purchasing.
Check In On the App
I can’t make this clear enough – Spirit makes you pay for EVERYTHING. This includes checking in at the airport at the front desk. Thankfully, their app makes it very easy to check in. We were also able to check in 48 hours before our flight via the app. The only thing I hated was that I couldn’t print my boarding passes easily from the site. For whatever reason, the button to print a paper copy of the boarding pass didn’t show up until the morning of the flight. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place, or maybe if I had checked in on the site instead of the app I would have seen that option all along. Either way, I was able to get a boarding pass without checking in at the airport.
It is also free to print a paper copy of your boarding pass at the Spirit kiosk at the airport. You can only do this if you checked in via the app.
So all in all, would I recommend Spirit to someone? If you’re going somewhere for a short amount of time like we did, then definitely! You get what you pay for, and when they say bare fares, they MEAN it. If you’re going on a longer trip, however, or with a larger group, I would recommend looking at another airline. By the time you pay for advanced boarding, your seats together, beverages, and checked bags, you’ll be paying pretty much the same price.
Overall, Spirit has stepped up their game and fulfills their promise of cheap airfare without sacrificing a TON on quality and service. Check them out if you’re interested!
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