I Caught the Spirit Again


It was some six years ago now that I first flew on Spirit Airlines. And, at that time, I was reasonably convinced it would also be my last time flying on the carrier. It was not comfortable and saving $20 just for that didn’t seem like a great plan.

The flights would pretty much have to be free to get me back on one of their planes, and Iā€™m not 100% certain that would be enough.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I was flight shopping, however, and things changed. I got distracted when looking at the search results on ITA and seeing a decidedly lower fare available.

NYC-DAL-matrix-fares

I mentioned it on Twitter and got all the expected responses, mostly negative.

I slept on it and in the morning the fare was still there. Plus it was a beautiful Sunday morning so I headed out to LaGuardia to ticket the fare in person, saving the $18 “convenience fee” for booking online. Maybe not worth $5.50 plus 2 hours of my life but it did give me an opportunity to play AvGeek a bit on a beautiful morning.

Also worth noting that both the Southwest and Virgin America fares are for travel into Love Field. That’s great for the competition there but I’m on an early flight out of DFW the following morning so that’s actually less convenient for me. I save even more time and money by taking the Spirit flight.

lga-dal-southwest-fares

OK, so it is cheap, but the other options on the route offer a more comfortable seat and maybe something resembling IFE or snacks or power outlets. Add in the Big Front Seat fee of $50 and I’m looking at flying in “first class” for the same price the others are charging in coach. Sure, the “first class” really is just the extra space, but that’s also all I really care about. In coach on the others I’d pay the same $5-7 for a drink (or, you know, just drink water from my bottle) so that’s a wash and I can buy lunch in the terminal before boarding, even in the decrepit mess which is the LaGuardia Central Terminal Building.

Spirit Fare Paid Website
Spirit fare breakdown from the website

I am a bit confused by the fare breakdown overall, mostly because the receipt I got at the airport and the online version show different numbers for fares and fees. In the end I don’t care too much as the final number is still under $100 and that’s a darn cheap way to fly.

Plus, I think it is important to actually have experience on the various products if I’m going to be comparing them to each other. Far too many people skip that aspect of things and I’m not a fan.

The trip is not enough points to matter for anything else, certainly not in the Elevate program (I’d redeem Rapid Rewards if I went that route) so that’s not a consideration for me on this trip. Maybe the operational reliability should be, but I can always book the Southwest reward as a backup option and call an audible on the day of travel if needed.

Yeah, I think I’m vaguely making a smart decision here. Maybe.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

9 Comments

  1. Come to the dark side, we have canned wine! šŸ˜‰

    Actually, they got rid of the canned wine (thank God).

  2. Spirit has its pros and price is definitely one of them! šŸ˜‰ I’ve flown on 2 Spirit flights and both times it got me to my destination on time! Just remember to print out the boarding pass at home to save some $$$ at the airport. šŸ˜‰

  3. I would have booked with Spirit for that price. I have only flown them once but it was fine. Nothing bad, nothing exceptional either. I also am becoming a huge fan of Frontier. Anyone that lets me fly round trip no hassle for under $100 is worth a try once. You know what to expect going in!

  4. Does any airlines have a true first class experience in the United States? Not on mid con in my opinion. Spirit’s big front seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom. Just remember to pack light, bring food and drink on the plane and print your boarding pass at home. Plus you are not going to be on a Mad Dog plane that should have been retired years ago.

    I’ve flown spirit many times. It beats flying Delta out of Detroit. Can’t stand the McNamara terminal. The North terminal is so much easier for people with mobility problems.

  5. I like how the switch to revenue based programs has altered my logic. I actually enjoy flying various airlines anyway. I’m not sure it’s going to end up in the legacy carriers favor.

    1. The logic hasn’t changed for me, Nick, but the numbers have shifted a tiny bit. That said, even at the same price point it would be hard for me to justify booking a traditional carrier in coach over this price in the Big Front Seat.

      If JetBlue had the route non-stop at the same price point I’d consider that viable but then mostly because of the product being sufficiently comparable (legroom but not width, likely free WiFi, etc.) rather than really worrying about the points.

  6. Shhhhh. Don’t tell too many people or the big front seats will all be full the next time I book with them. I’m not crazy about Spirit but they aren’t bad on some routes.

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