Spirit Airlines: Deal or no deal?

Spirit Airlines: Deal or no deal?

Dear Spirit,

I’m afraid that by writing this open letter to you I may very well incur a reading fee. As you seem to charge a fee for anything you can think of, I would hardly be surprised.

Typically I fly on another airline on which I am a “million mile flyer”. I am admittedly spoiled rotten as I pay no baggage fees, no carry on fees and don’t have to wait in long lines at security. Yes, there are blackout periods and double mileage requirements at times but nothing that is too unreasonable. This other airline however, does not fly to Myrtle Beach, SC where we go regularly. We usually fly into Charlotte, NC, rent a car and drive 4 hours to get there. But that gets old. Really old.

I googled airlines that fly there and Spirit popped up. I was thrilled! I booked four round trip tickets for a total of $670.00. I thought I’d gotten the deal of the year.

Closer to the trip I realized that when I booked I had not been directed to seat assignments. So, I went back to your site to take care of it. We like to sit together. Call me crazy. Now, if it said anywhere that only random seating was free, I will declare myself legally blind. I was directed to a page that gave me a seating chart and rates. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had to pay for my seat! I could pay $35 per person each way to get a nice big seat in the front. I guess that’s your version of first class but with no free booze. Or, I could pay $25 for a not so big seat. And if I was going to be really cheap, I could pay $1o for a crappy, small seat near the back of the plane. One that only realistically should be reserved for small children or people with really short legs. I took the $10 seats and that alone tacked $80 to my fare. $10 x 4 people x each way. Ridiculous.And sat with my knees practically shoved into my throat.

I was then directed to check my bags. Now, I realize airlines do charge for bags and I expected it. But usually it’s a $25 fee. Yours was $28 when I first looked but went up to $33 by the time I paid for them. Then the charges for carry on popped up. You’ve got to be kidding! $35 for a carry on bag. If we each had one suitcase and one carry one we would have to add $73 per person each way to our fare.

So, suddenly my $167 round trip fare was $313. And this was only if I booked online. At this point my husband and I decided we would share one bag and my girls would share one bag. We had to pack very carefully to ensure we didn’t go over the usual 50 pound weight limit. But wait!! Spirit has a 40 pound weight limit. Imagine that. And if a bag is 41 pounds another $25 is added and so on and so on.

So we emptied and weighed and emptied and weighed. Since we had waited to see how many bags we would actually have I didn’t pay till the night before and had to pay the extra $5 per bag. None of us took a carry on, I just took a large purse that probably weighed close to the 40 pounds my suitcase weighed as I stuffed whatever I could into it.

I made sure to pee before I got on the aircraft as I was certain you had converted your toilets to a pay per use. And we didn’t need to worry about drinking anything and filling our bladders:  you don’t even give your passengers a cup of water without charging. $3 for a bottle of water. You should be ashamed.

I now hear that your fees are going up. For poor schmucks that don’t have a printer at home they are really screwed as you will make them pay to print a boarding pass at your kiosks! $2 there and $5 if they print with an agent. And the grand daddy charge of them all: $100 for a carry on bag if you check in through an agent.

Just for grins I have calculated a round trip ticket for someone who shows up at the airport to check in with an agent. One carry one, one checked bag. A front seat and a ticket counter printed boarding pass. $507.

Yes, you have your $9 fare club for $59.95 a year. When you really look at your availability and the lower prices for joining, there isn’t really much of a savings.

So, stop advertising that your fares are a bargain. And please, hold off for awhile on the pay toilets, cause I know that’s on its way.


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  • Great post. Glad someone else loathes Spirit Airlines like I do. We don't fly much, but when we went to Mexico, we flew Spirit. We booked late, so we had a layover in Ft. Lauderdale. No big deal, that wasn't the issue. But the issue was, as you said, the extra fees. At O'Hare, the check-in agent was a nice guy and didn't make us pay for some of our carry ons because they were small. It was a short trip and we didn't check any baggage.

    In Cancun, though, the lady at check in was a real you know what. She made us pay for everything, even though we had the same stuff heading back to Chicago that we did coming from Chicago. That company needs to get their collective you know what together. The fees are ridiculous. It's amazing they're still in business.

  • In reply to Brady Stiff:

    I agree. I received an email from a gal who had done a study o Spirit - told me that at one point 97% of Spirits profits were from non-ticket revenue. Disgusting. Thanks for your comment, I know who we WON'T be flying.

  • Wow Teppi and Brady, thanks for the warning! My husband flies to Mexico often on business, I'll make sure to tell him to stay away from Spirit.

    Teppi I hope you and your family at least had a good time in Myrtle Beach, after all this?

  • In reply to jiyer:

    Yes, we had a great time but of course were nervous wrecks because I bought a sweater and a couple shirts and was afraid it would cost me the extra $25 in over weight baggage. Luckily, I told the guy at the baggage check how he looked like a guy who won The Bachelorette and he was too busy turning red to notice we were 2 pounds over :)

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Based on your reply and what Adam says below, sounds like the only way to not get squeezed dry by Spirit is to try and beat them at their own game. Glad you had a good time :)

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    My brother has flown Spirit from Chicago to Boston probably a dozen times and never pays more than $100 for a round trip ticket nor does he ever pay any Spirit fees. You do not need to reserve any seat online when you pay for your ticket. Spirit always sets aside a set number of seats for check the day of your flight. Every single time my brother checks in for Spirit he does it in the airline terminal and always gets a great seat without paying anything. He then brings a carry on bag and when they ask people to come up and pay for them, he puts his head phones, ignores them and walks straight on to the plane.

    He has done this at least 10 times and never paid a single cent in Spirit fees. You just have to be smart enough to know how to work the system.

  • In reply to Adam Shafran:

    You're allowed your one personal item. So I imagine your brother uses that as his carry on and that is why he is not being charged. I won't be flying them again so it's not an issue but thanks for your input. Maybe someone else will use the headphone thing successfully, I like it!

  • And look out for their credit card "application" they promote while you are waiting in line that opens an account with cascading late fees even if you never use it.

  • In reply to tommy:

    I know! They were passing out applications on the plane!! We didn't dare fill one out, we figured we'd be charged a processing fee :)

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