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Earlier this week Spirit Airlines had a 96% off coupon code 96PCT that was valid for a variety of their flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays into early next year. A 96% off discount on flights sounds pretty exciting, right? I agree, and I checked it out myself, mostly for my parents who are known Spirit(ed) Travelers. They are looking to fly Spirit again next year to repeat this ski trip on a very, very small budget and instead of using 2,500 Spirit miles + fees each way for an award ticket, I checked to see what the flights would cost out of pocket at 96% off.
Well, from Houston to Las Vegas the discount code dropped the one-way price to around $34 per person for their travel date. Now, it is still absolutely insane to me that you can fly close to 1,500 miles for just $34, but $34 is certainly not anywhere close to 4% of what Spirit normally charges for that route.
I looked at prices for the exact same flight today after the sale ended and the price came to about $43 each way. This means that the 96% off sale dropped the price on this flight by around $9, which amounts to less than 25% off the total price. No doubt the promo code did make the flight cheaper, but not by anywhere near 96% off the total.
Instead, as most of us could probably guess before getting to this fourth paragraph, the discount percentage is clearly not off the “government fees and taxes” portion of the fare which on the current $43 fare comes to $14.87, but it also isn’t off the “passenger usage fee” or the “unintended consequences of the DOT regulations fee”. What is an unintended consequences fee? Is that like what happens to my stomach when I eat too much of my daughter’s Halloween candy?
Instead the 96% off was likely off the measly $8.37 “flight” portion of the $43 ticket. So, while I absolutely think you should pay attention to airfare sales, even from low cost carriers if you are okay with that method of travel, don’t rush to pull the trigger just because of the headline of the sale. By booking during the sale my parents likely saved about $18 each way, which adds up to just about cover one of their ski lift tickets (yes, really!), but they didn’t save as much as the 96% off code might lead you to believe.
That said, today’s Frontier Airlines $19 sale really comes to $19 “out the door” on eligible flights, so sometimes the headline tells the tale, and sometimes it is just a wagging tail.