Tips for Avoiding Spirit Airlines Fees

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As you may already know, I flew the infamous Spirit Airlines for the first time earlier this month, and wrote a post about the interesting experience here.  To avoid some of the fees that can make a cheap Spirit Airlines trip much more expensive (including a $100 last minute carry-on fee), I brought my own food and drink, let Spirit assign my seat, printed my own boarding pass, and packed in a big purse instead of my normal roller bag.  The experience wasn’t my favorite flight ever, but it wasn’t that terrible.

Somehow my Spirit experience caught the eye of a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and we chatted some last week about Spirit and how smart travelers are avoiding many of the fees that Spirit can nail you with.  While I was talking with the reporter, I mentioned that my parents had flown Spirit many times while avoiding the ancillary fees and maximizing the 2,500 point flights you have access to if you have the co-branded Spirit Airlines credit card.  This naturally led to him talking with them on the phone, and ultimately using their experiences in his story that launched last night.  That’s right, Grandma and Grandpa Points are Spirit Airlines pros who are now quoted in the Wall Street Journal!  If you aren’t able to read the full article from that link, just Google “thriftiest travelers avoid fees spirit” and the article should come up with a free link.

Grandma and Grandpa packed to avoid Spirit fees!

Grandma and Grandpa packed to avoid Spirit fees!

I think it is great in a online miles and points world of first class reviews, and suite upgrades, that some are still using points in as economical a way as possible to get to where they want to be.  Of course, with Spirit Airlines you really do need to be proactive to avoid extra fees that can turn your cheap trip into a more expensive one.

The tips in the article to avoiding Spirit Airlines fees, that I also agree with, include:

  • Book on or at the airport
  • Leave the roll-aboard bags at home
  • Bring one bag “aka personal item”
  • Bring your own water and snacks
  • Print your boarding pass at home or at an airport kiosk
  • Let Spirit choose your seats

The reporter and I have noticed that Spirit really doesn’t seem to be too particular about the size of your personal item, and if you have packed in a soft duffel bag or backpack, then you can pretty easily stuff the bag into the sizer if requested.  I like my dad’s suggestion in the article of wearing some of his ski gear on the plane in order to keep the bag size smaller on an upcoming ski trip.  Hey, whatever it takes!

Spirit Airlines

Good luck avoiding fees on Spirit or your airline of choice this holiday season!

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    • Ross, ha ha! They really are both on-board with the plan…literally. That said, she will be at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome next year while he stays home and plays golf. Her spartan-ness only goes so far!

  1. I’ve got the easiest way of avoiding Spirit extra fees – avoid Spirit! Why anyone would punish themselves and fly this crappy product is beyond me. Fly Southwest.

  2. The one time I flew Spirit, I needed to fly last minute Houston to Dallas and all other carriers were $350 or more versus $100 for a Spirit ticket. I was surprised to read they charge a fee for online booking, so I packed my little backpack, went to the airport, and bought a ticket at the counter (~2 hours before flight) for $30 less than it quoted online, and paid no fees. Can’t beat that for a weekend trip!

  3. Ethan, did you consider booking with miles? That type of last minute short haul would only cost 4,500 BA Avios on AA or 10,000 United miles if seats are available. Much better than flying Spirit.

    Stephan, ShoNuffHarlem – I’m with you. Life is too short to fly Spirit :-).

  4. I haven’t flown Spirit yet, since it’s not at my airport, but I would definitely consider it for certain situations, as indeed I do similar airlines in Europe and Asia from time to time. I’m glad to see blog posts from time to time on the lower end of travel options.

  5. I can sit on about any airplane for the 40 minute IAH-DFW flight. 🙂 I have used miles on those short hops, but it was hard to pass up $100 for a last minute round trip, and be able to pick my schedule. Definitely validated that I shouldn’t fly Spirit again if it can be avoided (or if the flight is longer than 40 minutes).

  6. Spirit has no respect for its customers and considers them all to be trailer trash. The CEO has practically said as much in interviews if you read between the lines. You can also see it in the people who board a Spirit flight.

    They have the worst record in the history of US aviation in terms of cancellations, delays, and passenger complaints. And if they cancel or delay you then tough luck, they are the only airline that has no agreements with other carriers to manage their load so it is not unusual at all for them to cancel a flight and no re-book you on another flight for a day or two! All the while you receive no compensation and no stipend for food or hotel.

    Then once you are in the air they give you less space than any airline in the country and even charge you for water. No wonder its not only considered the worst airline in America, it is one of the worst ranked in the entire world! Of course the company makes a profit because they cut corners on everything including plane maintenance. Spirit is the new Valuejet.

    The funniest part about it is that Spirit rarely works out much cheaper than other airlines. Sure if you don’t carry any bags and let them put you in a middle seat and don’t drink a sip of water you’ll save some money. But if you are a normal traveler with any luggage at all, you like to choose your seat, and you like to enjoy refreshments during flight in the dry cabin air then you will end up paying almost the same as you would on a real airline that gives you more space. Not that the real airlines in the US are good nowadays, but given how bad they are its amazing Spirit was able to become so much worse.

  7. I’m flying this week for the 1st time with Spirit, and I’m scared shitless. My daughter surprised me with a ticket to go to see her as a gift. Since I don’t want to hurt or offend her, I’ll be using it, but again, I’m scared and apprehensive, and that’s the worse feeling, and the worst way to travel.

    The rating from Dallas are just horrible…

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