I flew Spirit to my girls weekend in Coconut Grove, Miami, it wasn’t that bad, and I’m here with what to know before flying Spirit Airlines.
Here’s a not-so-top secret: if you’re traveling on a holiday weekend, IT’S EXPENSIVE. So, when we decided to do our girls’ trip over MLK weekend, I knew flight prices weren’t going to be pretty. Flying into MIA or FLL is usually a song from DC, but, not so much on this particular January weekend.
YES, I FLEW SPIRIT
I looked at flights, compared airlines, and scrolled back to Southwest over and over again. And, I couldn’t stop coming back to the fact that Spirit Airlines was over $250 cheaper than the next airline.
I’d heard Spirit Airlines is awful. Avoid at all costs. Get ready to be nickel and dime’d. But, I took it anyway.
And, y’all, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it wasn’t bad at all. If you’ve taken other low cost carriers, this is absolutely no different, so I’m not sure why it gets such a bad rap. One of the flight attendants, who I chatted with while waiting for the restroom, said that Spirit has really worked on its customer experience over the past few years and that he’s had only positive things to say while working for the airline.
My flight boarded relatively on time — we were delayed about 20 minutes due to the plane arriving late, but I don’t dock points there. We still arrived to our destination on time. The aircraft was clean, it was an Airbus 320, which I prefer to some other large jets, and the flight attendants were friendly. My only complaints were the lack of free messaging in-flight (I feel like that’s standard now on most major carriers) and that there aren’t free snacks — but I knew that ahead of time and came prepared.
So, let’s get into what you need to know before flying Spirit…
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE FLYING SPIRIT
Whether or not you have a good experience when flying Spirit comes down to whether or not you’re prepared. If you’re expecting a Southwest experience with free bags, snacks, and messaging, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re prepared for a bare bones ticket for a steal, you’re going to be doing just fine. So, to get you prepared, here’s what you need to know before flying Spirit:
- Pay for your bags ahead of time. There was a woman at the gate who was freaking out that she couldn’t carry her bag on free. Now, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve traveled with friends who’ve played dumb even when they knew better, thinking maybe this is the time I can work the system and they won’t notice. They will. Just pay for your bag ahead of time. It’s significantly less to do it online, so just do it when you book your ticket. Also, compare the carry on v. checked bag cost. It’s typically less to check your bag so, if you don’t mind waiting at baggage claim, pay for the checked bag (I always do this because I hate lugging my bag around the airport!).
- Only a personal item is free. That means a purse or small backpack. Your carryon bag is NOT free.
- Snacks and drinks are NOT free — no, not even water. You’ll pay an in-air premium for whatever you order from the snack cart so, if you want to save a few bucks and some frustration, either bring your snacks from home or pick them up before you get on the plane. I did end up ordering a ginger ale and it was $3 for a can — honestly, not that bad.
- The plane is clean, but it is 100% no frills. Our jet felt as if it had a new interior — I walked on and was pleasantly surprised. I’d read horror stories about how bad the seats were, but mine was perfectly fine for a 2-hour flight. The one frustration was the tray table. It’s tiny. Definitely not big enough for a laptop.
- You will need to pay to pick your seat. On this particular flight, I didn’t care what seat I had. I was flying solo and I actually prefer being towards the back of the plane, so I waited for an assignment at the gate. I had the window on the way to FLL and a middle on the way back…but I had a 5-year old to my right and a 40-something guy to my left. Totally fine.
- Everyone talks about being charged $10 to print your boarding pass…I didn’t experience that. When I tried to check in online, I was told via the website that I would need to check in when I arrived at the airport. I quickly and easily checked in and the airport agent printed my pass at no cost. I don’t know if it was an exception because I was forced to check in at the airport, but I didn’t encounter the dreaded $10 printing charge.
- There was a long line to drop bags. No surprise here given it’s less to check a bag than carry on, but, when I arrived at FLL, I was probably 50th in line to drop my bags after checking in. I had plenty of time, so it was fine, but just be prepared. On the other hand, though, at BWI, I was first in line, 0 wait.
- Don’t fly Spirit if you’re in a true time crunch. Again, I didn’t experience delays, so I don’t think this is a rule, but, I have heard from enough people that they had issues that I would maybe consider another airline if you’re on a strict schedule. We did have an oversold flight and they were offering $800 vouchers + putting people on a Southwest flight that evening. You can bet I would have been the first to jump up had I not been eager to get to
Okay, all this is to say, I would definitely fly Spirit again if the cost difference made sense and it was a short-ish flight. If it’s a $50 difference? I’ll probably go with the other carrier because a bag each way would make up the difference. But, if we’re talking a $150+ savings, you can bet I’m taking Spirit. When I posted on my Insta story about flying Spirit, I had several people respond saying they’d also had positive or good-enough-not-to-complain experiences (one having gone as far as Puerto Rico!), so it appears I’m not the only one who’s taken the risk to see if Spirit really is that bad and found out that, no, no it’s not.
In the last few years most of the time my husband has flown he has taken Spirit Airlines. He has found it to be fine–just as you appraised it. I am going off of his report for due to a health issue I can not fly. When I travel it is by other means.
I honestly like Spirit — they’ve never been late for me, gotten me to my destination when other airlines had canceled my flight, etc. Yes, it’s no frills, but that’s honestly the case with most major carriers, too. I’d rather save the $$! Glad you had a good experience.
I haven’t flown Spirit yet but I have used Allegiant a couple times and have been pleasantly impressed! I think the budget carriers sometimes get too bad of a rap. Plus they can really save you money, and they sometimes have direct flights to cities that the major carrier don’t!
I greatly thank you for this detailed review. My fiancée is from Puerto Rico and hasn’t been back home from the states in almost a decade. I have noticed Spirit flights usually only have 1 stop for these longer trips and are much cheaper. Some other airlines are charging $900 with 3 stops and it takes 26 HOURS to get there. Just no! So I’m glad Spirit being “bad” is just people expecting more than what they were willing to pay for.