Spirit Airlines

Everything You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines

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spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airways

There have been some changes with Spirit since my post back in January so I wanted to give everyone the latest updates and try to clear up the most common questions I get. Granted, Spirit has a lot of hoops to jump through so I’m probably not going to get to everything; so feel free to keep asking in the comments if I didn’t cover something or wasn’t as clear as I could have been!

What Happens in a Flight Cancellation or Bad Weather?

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysI recently did a Google search on Spirit and I saw some websites that claim Spirit doesn’t or can’t move you to flights with other airlines if there’s a delay. Spirit Airlines has the same policies as any other carrier I’ve been on in the U.S. If there’s a mechanical issue; they will move you to a different flight on a different airline to help you make it to your destination on time.

Even with severe weather issues Spirit was very accommodating letting people change their flights and waiving the change fees and the price difference in flights.

Buy Your Tickets at the Airport

Buying your tickets at the airport. Spirit charges $16.99 per ticket each way for buying tickets online. So for one round-trip ticket that’s a $33.98 fee. For us, it’s still a savings to go to the airport to buy the ticket even if it’s just for one person; but I try to get as many as possible in one trip to DFW if I know we have multiple flights coming up.

DFW is one of their hubs; so their ticket counter is open approximately 22 hours a day, 7 days a week (it’s closed from about 1:30 – 3:30 a.m. daily). If they have less frequent flights where you live a good rule-of-thumb is 2 1/2 hours before the first flight of the day until the last flight of the day takes off.

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysIf they have a bunch of morning flights, then a bunch of evening flights they may close in the middle of the afternoon, that’s typical for any airline that has blocks of time with no flights going out.

They will have two lines for the ticket counters; one is the “Fast Bag Drop” line and the other is the “Full Service” line. If you’re going to buy tickets you need to get in the “Full Service” line. It also makes it easier if you look online ahead of time and know what days and times you want to fly out on. If you watch the scene in “Airplane!” where Ted Striker buys his tickets it’s not too different from that except they won’t hand you a smoking ticket. 😉

The $9 Fare Club

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If going to the airport to buy your tickets isn’t convenient; you may want to consider joining the $9 fare club.

UPDATE: the price has gone up from $59.95 a year to $69.95 a year.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: As of Sept 1st, Spirit’s website has the price listed as $59.95 again.

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysWhen I see $9 fare club prices, they are usually $10, $15 or $20 cheaper, each way, than the normal ticket price. That’s close to the same savings you would get buying your tickets at the airport. They’re not always available; but I suggest watching the flights for a while to see if it would benefit you.

You can wait and buy the membership the day you want to buy the tickets you see. You can get the $9 fares for other people in your party. The Spirit website states: “Enjoy the same savings for everyone on your travel itinerary. Benefits apply to you and up to 8 additional passengers on your itinerary.

Passengers must be reserved on the same booking confirmation number as the $9 fare club member in order to receive fare and/or bag savings.” When I joined I saved $50 on my tickets and the cost of membership was $59.95 so it was only a $9.95 risk for me to join. Even if I didn’t use any of the savings the rest of the year I would be no more than ten dollars worse off.

Also; the $9 membership is good for 365 days from the day you buy it. So if you buy it Aug 22, 2014; your last day of membership will be Aug 21, 2015. You also have to cancel it; the default is automatic renewal. If you know you want to cancel it I would start trying at least a week out to make sure it gets done on time.

Carry-On Charges

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysThey charge for carry-ons.

Bags seems to be the #1 thing that gets people every time they fly on Spirit. There hasn’t been a time where I haven’t seen a person at the counter shocked they have to pay for their carry-on or an overweight fee because their bag weighs more than 40 pounds.

Avoid a spirit airlines baggage fee by paying attention to the size of your bag.

You can bring one “personal item” free of charge. The personal item cannot be more than 16 inches by 14 inches by 12 inches (40 cm x 35 cm x 30 cm). So, for example, you cannot have a purse and a laptop bag. You can only have one or the other.

I highly recommend a backpack or a duffel bag without wheels or a handle as your personal item bag.

If I want to bring a purse I put it inside my backpack or my checked bag if I have one. Also, there is no weight limit to the personal item. I cannot tell you how many times we have lugged heavy backpacks on those flights to make sure our checked bag did not exceed 40 pounds.

Checked Bag Costs

Checked bags cost less than carry-on bags do. Also, the closer you get to your flight, the more expensive your bag will cost you. If you are a $9 fare club member, you get a discount on bags (both carry-on and checked) and that is where being a $9 fare club member has saved us the most money. For the cheapest rate you must purchase your bag more than 24 hours before your flight. Once you can check-in online the price goes up $10 per bag each way, then it goes up again $5 per bag if you purchase it at the ticket counter, and if you don’t pay until you get to the gate it’ll cost you $100 per bag no matter what. If you brain fart and forget to purchase your bag before online check-in the day you leave, you can still get the cheaper rate for your luggage on your return flight provided you’re not flying back within 24 hours.

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airways

Car Seats

Please note, no airline in the United States can charge you for checking car or booster seats for children. These are always free of charge but you still have to go through the line to check them as baggage. You are also welcome to bring them on the plane for your child to sit in provided they have their own seat (read: not a lap infant). Spirit Airlines will let you gate-check or check a stroller as baggage free of charge.

From Spirit’s website: “You’re welcome to bring an FAA-approved child safety seat onboard as long as a separate seat has been purchased for the child. We will do our best to reseat you to an open seat (not including our Big Front Seats) if the car seat is too large for a regular seat. We will happily check one stroller and one car seat per child for no extra cost at the ticket counter. You may also check these items at the gate. We’ll have them waiting for you in your arrival city when you get off the aircraft.”

Increased Baggage Costs for Holiday Travel

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysSpirit is doing a new thing where they increase the price of bags by $2 if you purchased tickets for a holiday season after a certain date.

So if you’re planning on traveling on Spirit this year between December 18, 2014 – January 5, 2015 and you haven’t bought your tickets yet, your bag will cost you $2 more than the prices listed above.

The exception to this is $9 fare club members. Their cost for bags will remain the same. It is normally $9 cheaper than the non-club member so this would make it $11 cheaper per bag. Keep in mind this is only for bags purchased online.

Once you get to the airport the cost of bags is the same for everybody, $9 club fare member or not. Also the prices of a bag is for each way. So make sure you pay for the bag online for both your flight out and your return flight. One checked bag for a round-trip flight will cost $60. It’s $42 if you’re a $9 fare member. One carry-on bag costs $70 round-trip and it is $52 if you’re a $9 fare member.

Paying for Assigned Seats

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysYou need to pay for assigned seats. If you are traveling with your kids you will be assigned seats with them even if you don’t buy them ahead of time, but it will probably be in the back of the aircraft.

Even if you’re not flying with kids, there is a chance you will be assigned seats together with the other people in your party without purchasing them ahead of time, but again, if you are you’ll probably be in the back of the airplane.

My husband flew with two friends of ours this past summer and the three of them were assigned seats in the same row together on both the flight out and the return flight.

The cost of selecting a seat ahead of time depends on the seat and the length of the flight. I have also been on flights that weren’t full where they offered exit row seats free of charge to anyone who wanted to switch, but I’m usually flying with my kids when that happens and can’t take advantage of that since people under the age of 15 cannot fly in the exit row seats.

No Complimentary Drinks on Flight

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysThere are no complimentary food or drinks on the flight. They even charge for water and soda. That being said; their snacks and alcohol selection seems to be about the same prices that other airlines charge. And for those who were concerned, yes, they still offer wine-in-a-can on the flights though I definitely do NOT recommend it.

Print Your Boarding Passes Ahead of Time

Print your boarding passes out ahead of time. Spirit charges to give you your boarding passes at the airport. It used to be $5 a boarding pass, but the price has recently gone up to $10 a boarding pass. If there are 3 or 4 of you flying together, that’s an extra $60 – $80 in fees for a round-trip flight. You can print your passes at the kiosks at the airport free of charge if that’s easier for you. I prefer to do it at home so it’s one less thing for me to do at the airport.

Prices Fluctuate Quickly

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysJust a word of warning; Spirit’s prices can change quickly.

I’ve kicked myself for buying tickets too soon (because I was worried the prices would go up) and then finding the same flight later for about $40 less than I bought the tickets for. However, I’ve also been in the other situation where the price had gone up since I last checked.

One time the price difference was only $10 so it wasn’t a big deal and I still bought the same tickets, but just today one of the flight’s I bought a ticket for yesterday has gone up $77. My return flight has gone down, but only by $10.

When I went to buy my ticket’s yesterday I did have a back-up flight time planned for my flight out. That flight went up by only $8 today.

So if I went to the airport today to buy my tickets, for the flight times I initially wanted, it would have cost me $67 more. If I changed to my back-up flight times, it would have been $2 less. The popularity of your destination and the days you’re flying out on play a big part in how much the price can jump.

Why Fly Spirit With All These Rules?

spirit airlines baggage fee spirit airwaysI still have no problem doing these things if it’s going to save us money.

I still look at every other airline when I’m looking at flights we want to take.

The trip I just booked yesterday is for next month and the only other airline that came close in price was American Airlines. Assuming I’m going to check a bag on Spirit, the price was within a couple of dollars of each other, but Spirit had the edge for having better flight times and non-stop flights.

American does have non-stop flights from DFW to Vegas, but those were much more expensive flights than what I was looking for. Even if I had to change to my back-up times, the options were still better than AA’s.

Had my back-up times not been available for the same price, then I would have reassessed and possibly gone with the AA flight.

In Conclusion

Spirit will continue to be our first choice for domestic flights for the time being. It would take a severe safety-of-flight issue or another airline offering lower fares for us to switch to one of the other airlines. If Spirit is the same price as another airline; flight times and non-stop offerings will still be our determining factors for which airline we decide to fly.

 

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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