Friday Flyday: Enjoying a Spirit flight


When I first flew on Spirit Air some six years ago I was quite unimpressed. Or perhaps I should say that it was a very impressive flight, but not in a good way. There was not much motivating me to give it another go until I recently needed a trip to DFW from New York City and it turns out that Spirit flies the route non-stop. And stupid cheap. I didn’t need to check a bag or even have a carry-on; everything fit in my Spirit-compatible briefcase for the overnight trip. And did I mention it was ridiculously cheap? As in the Big Front Seat was less than coach on anyone else. So I bit the bullet and bought the ticket. What happened from there was, quite frankly, a microcosm of society which I completely expected to find and I was not disappointed.

I made sure to print my boarding pass at home, avoiding one of the many fees Spirit can charge. I also made sure to fill my water bottle inside security (harder than it should be) at LaGuardia and had my lunch before our scheduled 1p departure. Hanging out in the gate area things were a bit of fun. The reps pushing the co-branded credit card signed up two while I was standing there which is more than I typically see for better cards in various airport terminals and the rest of the passengers mostly kept to themselves.

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Time to fly!

As boarding was about to begin we were invited to line up by boarding group numbers and reminded of the carry-on baggage policies. At which point one of the women in the gate area began to have what could reasonably be described as a meltdown. It seems that she was unaware of the carry-on bag fee and she is the only customer in the world for whom the website didn’t offer very aggressive warnings about such both when buying the ticket and when checking in online. At least that was her version of the story. I didn’t stick around to see how that one wrapped up but I did see her on the plane a bit later so it was eventually resolved.

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Lots and lots of seats there

Once on board I settled in to 1F where I had plenty of overhead bin space, legroom and an otherwise reasonably comfortable space to relax for the flight. Sure, all the snacks and drinks were paid, even up front (also no Group 1 boarding) but buying the Big Front Seat only gets you the seat, not the other bits. Besides, I had my full water bottle.

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Tons of space and my in-flight beverage of choice

And, sure, there is no in-flight entertainment, but listening to the conversation across the aisle may have been just as useful. And probably better than some movies I’ve seen on planes. One of the Dallas locals was explaining the way the United States works to a passenger form India. And it was spectacular in just about every way. Especially the part where the Indian man has been to the USA multiple times, including to Dallas, but the Texan wouldn’t accept that and insisted on explaining everything. Several times. Including how the government was coming to take away everyone’s guns, just like the Nazis did in 1936. Seriously, he said that out loud. It took all my self control to not burst out laughing.

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Great view of Manhattan as we left LGA.

Fortunately the engines spooled up and drowned out most of the conversation for the duration of the flight but the guy picked right back up when we landed, this time on his cell phone fighting with someone about how to make sure that whatever check they just received was cleared that same afternoon, even if it meant going to a check-cashing store, because he didn’t trust the payer. Real classy operation he’s running.

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“Normal” prices for snacks, but I passed on the option.

As for the flight, well, it really was exactly as advertised. Minimal service, minimal features, minimal price. We arrived a few minutes early into DFW though a bit late on gate because they didn’t have a ground crew to marshal us in. Still, it was completely reasonable, especially for the price paid. I did walk to the back at one point. Not so sure I’d pay to fly back there.

Next time I’ll likely suck up the $18 website usage fee rather than heading out to LGA to buy in person ($5.50 on the subway & 2+ hours of my life). And there just might be a next time. Assuming the schedule works and they’re still selling the Big Front Seat for less than anyone else is charging in economy. Because the points aren’t worth that, nor is the service on any domestic flight. I could have paid for 5 drinks on my 4 hour flight and still come out ahead on total price paid for the trip. I’m not saying it is a great product, but when it comes to delivering as advertised, Spirit came through this time.

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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.

7 Comments

  1. Spirit is really the only US airline where you get exactly what you expect, mainly because they tell you everything upfront. Last March I booked a roundtrip flight from IAH to ORD for $48 including taxes and fees and only 2 weeks in advance! My best trick with spirit is always asking for exit row at the gate and 90% they give me one for free!

  2. @Seth – hilarious story about the Indian passenger and the Texan. Thank goodness the Texan didn’t say “The only good Injun I know is a dead Injun.”

  3. Seth,

    I’m not a gun owner, gun nut, or even a paranoid individual, but certainly you must recognize that there is a significant faction on the left that wants to severely restrict gun ownership access and rights, thereby limiting an individual’s rights as currently allowed under out Constitution.

    We should not ignore the European history during the time of Germany’s control by the Nazis, but learn from it, and monitor the actions of our own government to avoid Constitutional and societal abuses from those on the far left or far right.

    As for Spirit, I am glad to see your reasonable review. Not everyone needs to get a fancy cookie or to sip Krug while on a flight, particularly a short domestic flight. Spirit sells basic, safe air transportation. It meets the needs of many. It’s good to have competition and choices.

    1. Show me a “Well-regulated militia” and then talk about constitutional law. Partial readings do no one any good, save for the weapons manufacturers.

      And if you want to talk about learning from Nazi-era history then acting on some of the many genocides which have been well documented and yet ignored would be a good start. Not getting bat-shit crazy paranoid.

      I’ve got no problems inherently with guns. I’ve been shooting many times enjoy it. But that’s not at all what this guy was talking about and it is rarely what the general conversation is about.

      1. Who is excusing our government’s, and other governments’, disgraceful ostritch-like behavior towards genocides and atrocities past AND present? Certainly not me.

        Your narrow view of gun ownership rights ignores constitutional law and legal precedent.

        Rather than restrict law abiding citizens’ rights, I’d prefer a lot more punitive penalties directed toward those who commit crimes with firearms (and without, for that matter, including white collar crimes).

        I was not on your flight and in a position to overhear the conversation of your fellow passengers, yet I maintain that the gentleman’s fears are not as far fetched as you might believe. Unlikely, sure. Impossible?? No.

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