Flying with Spirit Airlines is no one’s first wish. In fact, if I could, I would rather be on a first class trip on Emirates, enjoying a lay-down bed and sipping on a cocktail. Instead, I spent most of my flights last year on Spirit, with small seats where my neighbor might spill into and traveling with just a backpack. However, flying with Spirit Airlines is not as bad as people make it out to be.
As long as you understand their purpose.
Spirit Airlines is NOT for those who:
- Are traveling with a family whose luggage could be substantial
- Is going to be at their destination for many a days, aka heavy packers
- Is on a flight longer than three hours
- Are tall
- Prefer the better things in life all the time
- May have a tight deadline
Last year in 2019, I flew roughly a dozen flights using Spirit for weekend trips and I’ve never had a bad experience. I understand that Spirit is a budget airline where you pay for everything, so I make sure that I am flexible enough to pay for none of the extra.
So here’s how I make sure I don’t pay more than the original ticket advertised.
The biggest thing that people pay extra for, and that they complain about, is extra luggage. Not sure why. On the Spirit website, they tell you constantly that luggage is extra, especially when you do it at the counter versus ahead of time online.
They say a personal item like a laptop or purse, but in my experience, they’re a lot more lenient than that. I’ve had a pretty hefty backpack (not a camping backpack or anything) that was able to fit 5 days worth of shorts and t-shirts, and they’ve never said it was oversized. I usually carry my laptop in my hand, have my dslr camera shlepped over my shoulder, and that seemed allowable.
Sometimes I do get frustrated that I can’t bring extra shoes or really go all out with the outfit choices, but that’s just the tradeoff. And I have to be okay with that.
Spirit Airlines does not provide any water or peanuts, but they do have a variety of snacks you can purchase ranging from $2 for coffee or tea, $3 for water, soda and light snacks, all the way to $8 for liquor and $11 for combination alcoholic drinks. They’re not expensive, and in some ways, as long as you grab something from the airport concession stands beforehand, it’s not a big deal.
Are we really complaining about $3 water in the grand scheme of things? Really?
Yes, the seats aren’t that comfortable. For the most part, they’re rather paper thin and small to the point that your sitting neighbor could easily spill into your paid seating bubble. They are not reclining. They are rather hard. The tray in front of the seat is ridiculously useless in its size. There is a bungee cord holding together information brochures under the tray instead of a pouch. There’s no tv to keep you entertained. There’s hardly anything good to say about the seats, to be honest.
Except that it’s a cheap flight.
Again, if you’re going to be on the flight for longer than 3 hours, I suggest finding a different airline with much comfier seats. But sub-3 hours, you should be fine with a little uncomfortability for that extra savings. Just download a few titles off of Netflix on your phone or bring a book, and entertainment is solved.
There are two rows of 4 seats in the front where the seats are plush and comfortable. They are extra – I have not seen it for under $50 extra per way – which I personally don’t think is worth it. If you’re going to pay extra for better feeling seats, why not just go with a different airline that would give you better seats and more perks? The reason you’re with Spirit is to save. Nothing else, really.
However, I did get upgraded to the nice seats a handful of times already and I will say they are so much better than the regular seats. There is so much more leg room, the seats are much comfier, and your neighbors aren’t all up in your business. For free, I’ll definitely take it.
Aside from once or twice, I’ve never experienced crazy delays or even cancellation, so I can’t attest to that part of everyone else’s experience. Spirit has been predictable throughout all of my journeys with them. However, I have only taken direct flights so any kind of delays do not affect my travel plans by much.
As long as you understand that Spirit Airlines is a budget airline that is there to take you from A to B without any bells and whistles for a relatively small fee, you won’t feel like you got ripped off.
But if you’re expecting a full-service, the disappointment will be strong.