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How To Have An Enjoyable Trip While Flying On Spirit Airlines (or any ultra-low-cost carrier)

Spirit Airlines is the literal butt of all jokes when it comes to airlines. I am sure that you have seen the memes, and yes, we have as well.

While many are hilarious, we understand that most are exaggerated. The reality is that Spirit Airlines is an excellent choice for certain passengers. You must first understand with Spirit Airlines has a low-cost operating model. This article will explain how to correctly fly on Spirit Airlines or any low-cost carriers so that you don’t have any surprises.

Low-Cost Airlines vs. Premium Airlines

Today it is becoming increasingly hard to distinguish between low-cost carriers and legacy carriers due to the latter’s adoption of the low-cost fare models. In recent times the leading three airlines โ€“ Delta, United, and American Airlines have introduced basic fares to be more competitive. For a complete breakdown of the basic economy fares, you can check our article on Basic Airline Fares, what they mean, and if you should buy them? These airlines are not considered low-cost because they also include full fare economy and first-class options.  For this article, we are focusing on the following US low-cost airlines:

Jetblue and Southwest Airlines are also considered low-cost carriers by industry standards. However, their product offerings and prices are more on par with premium airlines. We have excluded them from this article because of this. In this article, we are featuring ultra-low-cost airlines.

Low-cost Airlines are not Always the Cheapest.

Baggage Allowance

The low-cost carriers typically operate in an ala carte format, meaning that almost everything other than the ticket will incur an extra fee. You will even be charged for your carry-on baggage.  Only personal item per passenger is permitted free of charge. Personal Items are a purse or backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you.

Spirit Airlines and Allegiant only allow bags up to 40LBs, which is 10 lbs less than the industry standard of 50lbs. Bags wearing 41lbs or more will be charged an overweight fee on these carriers.

Baggage only these carriers are approximately $45.00 per carry-on and $43.00 for your first checked bag.

Carry-ons are typical $43.00, with a maximum of one allowed per passenger.

You can save a few dollars off of these prices by booking your baggage at the same time as booking your flight. You will spend extra (approximately $10.00) in addition to these fees when paying at the airport. 

Seat Assignments

The cost of advance seat assignment varies by flight but typically runs between $10-20 per passenger for a standard seat assignment. Exit rows and seating closer to the cabin’s front are generally between $14-30. You can purchase these seats when paying for your itinerary. Seat assignments are provided during online or airport check-in if not purchased in advance.

How do you have a successful flying experience on a low-cost carrier?

Below we include our tips to ensure you have a successful flying experience on a low-cost airline.

Have Reasonable Expectations

Please remember that you are flying on a low-cost carrier, so as the name suggests, this airline has done and will do any and everything to keep their cost low. Do not get on the plane expecting beverage and snack service; they only have paid options. Pay close attention to the baggage allotments and fees as mentioned above.  And remember, Spirit Airlines could randomly assign you a seat if you have not paid in advance for one. 

Avoid Connections and International Travel

Low-cost carriers do not have the extensive route network that larger premium airlines have. Low-cost airlines are not part of a larger airline alliance which means that you would have fewer options in the event of irregular airline operations. If you were flying United Airlines from New York City to Bogota, Colombia, and United Airlines canceled your flights; you would have many rebooking options. In addition to having several flights to Colombia from different US gateways, they can leverage their partnership with Copa Airlines, one of the largest Latin America-based airlines. Often, low-cost carriers have only one flight a day to many destinations; this is especially true on international flights.

Avoid Long Haul Flights

Low-cost carriers save money everywhere they can, including the actual seats. The seats on low-cost airlines are then, with minimal padding. We know that all airlines have tight, uncomfortable seats, but these are much worse. They are also very close together. Because of this, we do not recommend flying on a low-cost carrier for flights that are more than just a few hours.

Buy Two Seats

Buying two seats is one suggestion that I don’t think enough people realize is an option. It is not unusual to find $35 one-way flights on low-cost carriers. For this example, you could purchase two seats and seat assignments and still be under $100.00. Extra seats for personal comfort is something of which many people are not aware.

Purchase a Bundle / Prepay for any extras

People love bundles! Low-cost airlines are no exception to any other retailer that bundles together your favorite goodies into a cost-savings package. Low-cost airlines also offer bundles that include a carry-on bag, checked bag, and a seat assignment. You can also join discount clubs offered by the airlines. These programs allow you to save up to 50% on fees and even discounts off the ticket’s fare. We will be providing more details about Frontier’s Discount Club and the new Spirit Saver$ Club soon. Subscribe to us for the updates.

Conclusion

You can have an enjoyable experience flying Spirit Airlines or any other low-cost airline. With this information, you now know what to expect so that you can have reasonable expectations.