Random Extra Fees on Spirit Airlines

a plane on the runwaySpirit is not an “ultra-low cost carrier†for nothing. They do find ways to charge you for any and everything possible on this airline. However, that doesn’t mean you have to pay for any and everything. You just need to figure out ahead of time what you’re willing to pay for and what you’re not.

First, you get a charged a $16.99 “usage fee†per person per way for tickets you purchase online. See the post about buying tickets about when buying online can benefit you, and when you should go to the airport to purchase your tickets.

Remember they charge you for luggage on this airline. You can read my other post on how to minimize your bag fees, but if you plan on bring more than a “personal item†on board, you will be charged for it.

No free snacks or beverages of any kind.

They will charge for water, coffee, tea, soda, bag of chips, etc. etc. However annoying that is, their prices for snack packs and alcohol runs about the same price as any other airline. Not all their routes get restocked during the day, so if you have a later flight you might want to buy something before getting on board in case they run out of whatever you want. I recommend avoiding the wine-in-a-can for a more traditional alcoholic beverage if you plan to drink on the flight.

You have to pay to choose your seats

If you want to be 100% guaranteed to sit with your party, you will have to pay for you seat. The price varies, the regular seats are cheapest, seats with extra leg room cost more, and the “big front seats†cost the most. If you’re flying with kids, you will be assigned a seat together with them without having to purchase them ahead of time. However, if there are no children in your party, they will not guarantee that you will have seats together. That being said, the last couple of times we’ve flown without kids, we’ve still been assigned seats together without paying for them when we checked in online. We’re usually sitting near the back of the plane, but we’re still sitting together.

Print out your boarding pass at home or at the kiosk at the airport.

If you need them to print out your boarding pass at the ticket counter you will be charged $10 per boarding pass. This is a no-brainer to print them out at home or at the kiosk at the airport to avoid this fee.

They Charge for Priority Boarding

The people who get Zone 1 priority boarding are those who paid for carry-on bags ahead of time. Everyone else get assigned Zone 3 or 4. You can pay to get Zone 2 boarding (“Shortcut Boardingâ€) for $5.99 per person each way. If you are a person needing special assistance or traveling with small children don’t worry, they still let you board earlier than other people and you don’t have to pay for this service.

Side note-pet peeve of mine. Lately when we’ve been flying they’ve skipped calling “Zone 3†and went to all-boarding after calling Zone 2. So now you have most of the plane trying to get in line to board at the same time. I think it went smoother when they still called Zone 3 and 4 separately, but maybe this is to motivate people to purchase “Shortcut Boarding†on future flights.


They tell customers they’re trying to use more environmentally friendly cups and napkins and ask you to donate to help them “GreenUpâ€. You can GreenUp a little for $1 or a lot for $5. Thanks, but no thanks. I have no way to verify that’s what my money is going towards and I’m already being more green by not buying drinks or beverages on their flights so I’m not using their cups or napkins anyways.

There are other things we’ve taken for granted on other airlines that Spirit doesn’t have. There is no wi-fi available, no inflight magazine, and no audio or video entertainment. In this day and age when most people have games, movies, and music on their personal devices I think we miss this a lot less than we might have 20+ years ago. The seats don’t recline, since there is less space between seats than traditional airlines, I’m really okay with the lack of reclining capability on Spirit.

None of these are deal-breakers for us, which is why we still fly primarily on Spirit for domestic flights. I completely understand if you’re only one person traveling and you can pay only $30-$50 more to fly on another airline that you would chose to do that. Even with the extra charges, flying on Spirit has saved us hundreds of dollars on flights compared to the other airlines in the area. I sometimes get asked “what about Southwest†and every time I’ve looked up their flights, I can find a cheaper flight on American, United, or Delta and a much cheaper flight on Spirit, even with the extra fees.


For more on Spirit Airlines, check out Tiff’s comprehensive guide!

Everything You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines

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  1. Just wanted to let you know that I just subscribed to your blog just based on your coverage of Spirit. I’ve done pretty well with their loyalty program. I went to FLL 3 trip to FLL in the dead of winter last year, paying a grand total of $60 for all three trips. It’s not an amazing travel experience, but it gets you from point a to point b. There are a lot of people who both hate Spirit and have never flown the airline in the blogosphere, and it’s so refreshing to actually get some coverage of the airline. Keep it up!

  2. The best bargain of Spirit is not the cheapest ticket, but the Big Front Seat. $40 from NYC to FLL to fly in what effectively is a first-class seat. Upgrades for even their longest flights are $50,

    Interestingly enough, they don’t always price their Comfort Economy higher than BFS. On my FLL to CUN segment it wast the other way around, $25 vs $18.

  3. I love being able to pick which extras I want to pay for. And some of their redeye flights are at exactly the times I want. It is a bit difficult to use their frequent flier miles. But they are clearly doing something right as they were one of the most profitable airlines last year and Frontier is copying many of their quirks.

    1. Frontier’s current President is a former Executive VP of Spirit; I’m assuming there’s a method in their madness. 🙂

  4. I am a family of 5 with 3 children. I have already purchased my tickets and postpone purchasing assigned seating and Zone 2. I was just on spirit.com looking to purchase assigned seating and Zone 2. After reading your blog I am thankful that you posted the information and I will hopefully be able to save money.

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