(Note: This post has ZERO affiliate links. I do not work for Spirit, I am not getting reimbursed for this in any way… although if they see this and want to go ahead and toss me a little sumthin’, I won’t say no… hint hint)
When we started planning our Vegas trip back in December, we found consistently amazing deals from Spirit Airlines. Like, $80 round trip tickets. That’s, like, $40 one direction. We are cheap (although I prefer the term “frugal”) and saving a crap ton of money on airfare was something we obviously jumped on.
I found a ton of negativity towards Spirit when I read internet reviews. I also strongly feel like 99.9% of the complaints are completely unwarranted. Why? Because people don’t READ THE FINE PRINT. And then they get mad at the airline because they didn’t read. Whose fault is that?
Seriously, people, how exactly do you think Spirit can keep their airfare so low?
Common Complaint #1: They nickel and dime you for every little thing.
Ummm, yes. Yes they do. Because you are paying the absolute lowest, rock-bottom price of jet fuel required to pack your ass from point A to point B. Your Ginger Ale doesn’t just grow on trees and drop into airplanes.
It’s not that they wont give you pretzels, it’s that you have to pay for the pretzels. Snacks and drinks are not built into the price of the ticket, and, frankly, I’m totally okay with saving $100 and not getting airplane pretzels. Just buy snacks before you board and you’ll be fine. You’ll probably be much happier chowing down on your airport McDonald’s Big Mac than stale airplane pretzels, anyway.
Common Complaint #2: Their baggage rules are ridiculous.
You are allowed one personal item that is free. Everything beyond that you have to pay for. A personal item, according to Spirit’s website, is 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Please, for the love of God, double and triple check this before you fly. If you are cheap, er, frugal like we are, you can fit a surprising amount of items in this size. This needs to be able to fit under the seat.
Everything else gets charged for. Why? Because more weight = more fuel the plane has to burn to fly. If Suzie College Student packs all of her things into a personal bag, and Bobby Businessman is flying with a personal bag, a 15 lb carry-on, and a 50 lb checked bag, why in the world should Suzie pay more on her ticket to help offset the gas burned because of Bobby’s compulsion to pack his entire wardrobe, a tuba, and a set of encyclopedias?
Pro Tip: We found that checking a bag is more economical than paying for a carry-on. I think when we booked it was about $40 and a checked bag was $30-ish, but different flights have different prices because gas prices and distance the plane has to haul your treasures play into this (Economics 101), so double-check this stuff, you guys!
Not only is a carry-on more expensive, but you are allowed a much larger bag to check. They also have size guidelines for how big you can go before you are charged an “oversized bag” fee, but we used the biggest suitcase we own and it was fine.
So we bought one checked bag and attached it to Kevin’s ticket, raising only his ticket price by $60 ($30 there and $30 back), and we all packed our stuff into our personal bags and the rest went into the big suitcase. This is still significantly less money than any other airline. Trust me, we looked.
Pro Tip #2: Buy your luggage when booking your ticket. Or any time before the day of your flight, really. If you wait until the gate, it will be waaaaaay more expensive. Don’t be that guy who didn’t do his homework and gets charged $100 for his bag at the gate and then goes and writes a nasty-gram on every internet forum he can. No one likes that guy.
Common Complaint #3: The seats are so small and cramped.
Less leg room means they can cram more seats on the plane. Which means more people will fit on one flight, which lowers the ticket prices for everyone. More pesky Economics lessons, there.
I found this to be true. But honestly, I’m 5’2″ with shoes on. I have short femurs. Leg room has never been an issue with me. It doesn’t bother me at all, Kevin says it didn’t bother him. However I am happy that I splurged and bought my toddler his own seat (rather than having him be a “lap child”). But at $80 round trip, it was very doable to splurge.
If this is something that will bother you, you have three options:
- You can deal with it while smugly thinking about how much money you saved on airfare.
- You can upgrade to one of the Big Boy seats up front. You have to pay more, but it’s still not nearly the cost of a 1st class ticket on a different airline. Honestly, I doubt it’s more expensive than a coach ticket on a normal airline.
- You can fly with a different airline. You do have a choice to fly with someone else. Really. Spirit is not hiding the fact that they have smaller seats. You can see that here. They call it “cozy.”
Common Complaint #4: They have bad customer service.
You have to print your own ticket. Oh, the horrors. You can do that from your printer at home, from the email they send you, or you can print them at the handy-dandy kiosk at the airport. This means they don’t need to employ as many Customer Service check-in people. Which makes the airline cheaper to run, which…. (Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) saves you money on ticket prices. Gah! Those blasted economics!
Also, I recently received a nice email from the CEO of Spirit Airlines (I’m on their email list because a. they email out their great specials and deals they run, and b. their copy is hilarious and I read every. single. email because I have a crush on their copywriter). The CEO was acknowledging that they receive a lot of complaints regarding customer service, and they are looking into it and will be implementing some changes in policy and training.
Which I thought was very nice, but in all reality, we had zero problem with any employees we encountered. Everyone was super nice and helpful.
So there it is, folks. You, too, can fly for ridiculously rock-bottom prices, but please please please, DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND BE PREPARED.
And if you chose to not read the website you are purchasing your ticket from, any of the follow-up preparatory emails they send you before your flight, or even your ticket itself (yes, they have helpful hints ON their tickets), then don’t be an ass and storm the internet with whiny reviews like, “I had to pay for a snack on the plane!!!” because the rest of us just roll our eyes at your inability to adult.