What to expect on Spirit Airlines

Courtesy photo from Spirit Airlines' website

Courtesy photo from Spirit Airlines’ website

Before any adventure, it is wise to do some research to know what you are getting into. Flying on Spirit Airlines is no different.

If you walk onto the plane expecting a comfortable ride, a cup of water and some peanuts or pretzels, you are on the wrong flight.

However, if you walk on the plane understanding that every single thing on the plane is meant to make the company money, you should be fine.

Here are some tips I garnered from our first experience on Spirit.

1. Expect a tight turnaround – When I saw that our flight into our connecting destination arrived at the time that our next flight left, I freaked out. How is it possible for someone to be getting off one plane when they are supposed to be getting on another at the same time? Turns out, Spirit works the clock and expects a quick deplanement and a quick boarding process. They also over estimate how long it is going to take them to get somewhere so they have a little wiggle room before the next flight. Quite genius, I admit, but for a clock watcher like me, it is stressful.

2. Do not expect any freebies – The days of a free coffee, water or soda on the flight and maybe a bag of peanuts are long gone. Spirit offers those items “for purchase” and makes sure to say those two words up and down the galley so no one even thinks they are free. My tip is to make sure you have water in your bag and a hefty snack in case your layover isn’t long enough to grab a bite to eat.

3. Don’t think you will be comfortable – On our second flight, we probably got the worst seats on the plane. They were near the restrooms, the middle seat (my seat) was broken and the window seat wasn’t near the wall enough to lean on. I also had a wiggler in front of me so his seat almost hit me in the face every time he moved. On our return flight, however, we were lucky to get seats with a little bit more room that made the flight bearable.

4. Do expect an inexpensive flight, if you know how to work the system – Spirit’s fares are cheap. But if you want to check a bag, carry a bag onto the plane, print your ticket at the airport, get a drink of water or even pick your seat, it will all cost more. Plus, the prices of checking a bag or carrying on a bag get more expensive the closer to your flight and are $100 at the gate. If you check one bag when you book your flight, print your boarding pass at home, don’t choose your seat and bring your own snacks, you can get away with a pretty cheap fare to a fun destination. Just make sure your carry on fits under your seat or you will be paying the $100 to check the bag at the gate.

5. Do expect a friendly staff – About a week before our flight, Spirit had to cancel some flights out of Myrtle Beach due to weather. I turned to twitter to see what people were saying and nothing was nice about the customer service. That made me very nervous. However, I was pleasantly surprised to be warmly welcomed by the Spirit staff. They were friendly, funny and helpful.

6. Don’t expect a refund on your flight – In the off chance you need to cancel your flight, unless it is within 24 hours of booking, don’t expect a cash refund and do expect a fee. I read the fine print in case we needed to change our plans and they would have charged $300 to cancel and then given me a voucher to use on another Spirit flight.

As with anything, if you are prepared for what you signed up for, the ride is much more pleasant. We knew that Spirit nickle and dimed each customer for simple services that other airlines provide for free, but we also knew we were getting a great deal for airfare on our trip.

In the end, I would fly Spirit again and plan to in the near future.

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