The Nightmare Before Travel: Why You Should Never Fly Spirit Airlines
September 9, 2016
I've sprinkled in during previous posts my advice that you never fly Spirit Airlines, but I never gave you any reason why.
That ends today.
In this post I will explain all the reasons you should avoid the ultimate low-cost carrier.
It's going to get u-g-l-y.
Who Books Spirit Airlines Tickets?
In my experience, people that book tickets on Spirit are motivated solely by booking the absolute lowest fare, without considering any other factors. Often these are inexperienced travelers that aren't aware of other options or are under the (false) assumption that big airlines are more expensive.
There are several flaws in this idea, and it's important to me that all my readers avoid travel pitfalls of all forms.
Why Do People Book Spirit Airlines Tickets?
People book tickets on Spirit because their base fares are very cheap. But there is much more to it than the base fare.
Airlines (all airlines, not just Spirit) heavily advertise their lowest base fare as a "sale" even though this is almost never what you will wind up paying. But, a base fare is only the start of the conversation as there are almost always fees tacked on top of this fare, and that's assuming you can even get that base fare as it's normally for a badly scheduled flight.
Fees? What Fees?
Let's look at an example of a Spirit flight from Dallas to Las Vegas:
They advertise a "bare fare" of $133.09 for the departure and then $183.09 on the return, for a total of $316.18.
But wait! There's more!
That fare includes only one personal item. No, not one carry-on. One personal item. As in a purse or a backpack.
One carry-on costs you $35, or $70 for the round trip flight. And that's if you remember to add it during your booking. If you add it afterwards, that would be $45 ($90 RT).
Need to check a bag? $30 each way during booking or $40 each way after.
Want to pick your seat? That will be another fee (Spirit lists that fee between $1 and $50).
In just a short period of time we've racked up at least $70 in fares, and up to $120 if you want to pick your seat.
For reference, American Airlines was $311 for that same flight. Cheaper fare, carry-on included. Seat assignment included. Boom.
I don't care about comfort, I just want to get where I'm going for cheap.
Say you actually are able to find a fare where, bags included, Spirit is cheaper than a legacy carrier or Southwest. That's great and everything, but now you actually have to get where you're supposed to go.
Spirit outright cancels 2.3% of their flights, more than double the legacy carriers.
Spirit also led the way in Passengers Denied Boarding at a rate of 1.38 per 10,000 passengers, almost triple other carriers.
Spirit really shines in the complaint department, registering an astounding 5.9 complaints per 10,000 passengers. The closest to that number? Frontier, at 2.39. Year to date, Spirit is at 8.30 per 10,000 passengers. Amazing!
Ok, but what about their Frequent Flyer program?
Best case scenario is you earn free flights on an airline that sucks. Hard pass.
So, it's totally not worth it, right?
Correct. Spirit is NEVER worth it.
Seriously, friends, air travel has become so inexpensive that it is not worth flying a discount carrier like Spirit anymore. It's so rarely a good value proposition when you factor in fees, performance and all other aspects of your travel.
It's important to value your time and headache when determining the "cost" of a flight.
Always be patient when planning trips, and make sure you remember ALL aspects of value when it comes to flying.