Will Spirit Airlines…Break Your Spirit?

When on the hunt for low fares, it is important to keep your options open and be flexible. And this year, airfare deals have been fantastic, with trips from various U.S. cities to hot-spot destinations like Europe and Australia ringing in at a fraction of the cost. But are there some deals that don’t need to be chased? As the website The Flight Deal’s motto states, “Just because it’s a great fare doesn’t mean it’s a great deal.” Given some of the horror stories I have heard, airlines like Spirit Airlines may fall into that category.

Full disclosure: I have never flown Spirit. And I don’t plan on using Spirit as my airline of choice. Plus, being nickeled and dimed is one of my pet peeves. (And we won’t even discuss the people I know who have had their flights cancelled, sometimes because the crew didn’t show up.)

Before you book Spirit because the price of the flight is drastically lower than the competition–which is a benefit–be sure you know the rules. Spirit is a la carte travel, meaning you pay for everything. And I mean everything! If you are not careful, Spirit may end up breaking your spirit before the trip is over.

From Spirit’s website, bear in mind the following fees:



Spirit charges you for any type of baggage that isn’t a small backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you. To be clear: backpack or bust.

Carry-on baggage is more expensive than checked baggage with Spirit. According to the site, if you pay for carry-on at booking, it is $35; before check-in it is $40, and during online check in it is $45. The first checked baggage is $32, $37, and $42 respectively. Now mind you I am working on packing light but just a backpack… nope. So now you see how that cheap airfare can quickly add up, tacking on an additional $64 at minimum for any type of bag that isn’t a weekender or backpack that fits under the seat.


Choosing Your Seats

Most U.S. carrier airlines will let you choose your seats ahead of time with no charge. With Spirit, you can choose you seat at check in, or you can pay anywhere from $1 to $50 to choose your seats rather than rolling the dice at check in (and hoping you don’t get a middle seat). I have heard rumors that the seats do not recline, but I can neither confirm nor deny that fact.


You Forgot Your Boarding Pass

I love that line in Bad Boys! I can hear Will Smith say it in my head while typing this LOL.

But don’t forget to print your boarding pass, because Spirit doesn’t have mobile boarding. Printing your boarding pass at home is free, but if you print with an agent at the airport that’s $10 per boarding pass printed (so if you have one connection that’s 20 bucks). If you are able to go to a mobile kiosk, then you can print for $2 per boarding pass printed.


Stay Thirsty, My Friend!

If you are expecting complimentary juice/water/soda on your Spirit flight, think again. All of that costs. If you need juice or water, buy it in the terminal. Or better yet, if you just want water bring a refillable water pouch like this one and fill it up at the airport. Because really, those airport prices are just stupid.


The Bottom Line on Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines isn’t for everyone (myself included). The low fares may work for you but just remember to read the rules and restrictions. The flight that looked dirt cheap could end up being $104 more if you have a two-leg flight where you don’t print your boarding pass and have a checked (because it’s cheaper than carry-on) bag that you pay for at booking. And please don’t get thirsty. I have seen people make it work with the backpack situation, but I am not a light packer. Spirit is just too much work for me. Expert tip: Make sure you know what you are getting into before you book (and that goes for any airline, especially discount airlines).


For more tips and tricks, check out BarrisTourista every Thursday. And sign up to receive a 5-Page Travel Deals Mini-Guide!


I am a lawyer. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a photographer. And I love to travel.

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