Flying Spirit Airlines: How to Save Even More on Low Cost Flights

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One of the best ways to save money on flights is to travel on low cost carriers. Just in case you’re not familiar, low cost carriers are airlines that offer flights minus the comforts offered on full service carriers such as prepaid carry-on or checked baggage, complimentary in-flight drinks & snacks, or seat selection. While all these services are still available for purchase, it’s nice for customers to be able to choose if that’s something worth paying for. If you’re okay doing without the extras and just need a cheap flight to your destination, a low cost airline is the perfect solution for you. Jet Blue, Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit are a just few of the low cost domestic carriers in the U.S.  In this post we’ll discuss our experience flying Spirit Airlines and how to save more money on your next Spirit flight. 

There are many who have bad things to say about Spirit airlines, and occasionally we may even have a little grumble about something. However, that doesn’t stop our family from flying with Spirit at least 3 to 4 times per year.  As long as you start with the right expectations, you will likely have a nice experience with Spirit.  The only issues we’ve encountered are that they notoriously run behind schedule and online check-in can sometimes be flaky. The later happened to us once when our flight was oversold. Wink, wink. These may be deal breakers for you but, in our experience neither are frequent or disruptive enough to make us want to pay full fare costs. Please note that Spirit is NOT a luxury airline by any means, but an economy carrier whose services accurately correspond with their pricing. Our family will continue to fly spirit in order to make family travel more affordable. So, without further ado, here are five tips to save even more money while flying Spirit Airlines. 

1. Book your flight at the airport. This little travel hack is one we learned of recently. I’d previously read about Spirit waiving their “passenger usage fee” of $19.99 per way as long as customers booked travel at the airport rather than their website. During Spirit’s recent cyber Monday sale, we found roundtrip flights from Dallas to Los Angeles for $103 per person on their website. While this is already an exceptional price, I was determined to save even more money. I decided to try this travel hack that everyone has been talking about for myself. If everything went as planned, I’d be able to get the $103 flights to LA for $63 per person.

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I drove to the airport which was about 35 minutes away from our house. Some of you may feel that the drive isn’t worth it to save $40 bucks. For us it is. We’d multiply that fee by five and be looking at a $200 savings. Back to my attempt to save even more, I arrived at the airport around noon on Monday. Spirit’s check in desk was surprisingly not busy. They had a line allocated solely for purchasing tickets, which was even better. There were three people ahead of me, but it only took 8 minutes for me to be called to the counter. When I approached, the agent asked where I wanted to go. I told her Dallas to Los Angeles, gave her my dates and the flight numbers that I’d found previously on their website. I let the agent know that I needed to book tickets for five people. After a short search, she quoted me the price of $62.42 round-trip per person. With flights from Dallas to Los Angeles regularly costing between $160-$250, this was a no brainer. She then asked for the names and birthdays for everyone in our party. After a few minutes of typing, I paid and she printed a receipt with the confirmation number for our flights. I was in and out of the airport in less than 30 minutes. What a painless process! Now we get to go meet our new baby niece and maybe take the kids to Disneyland.

2. The next strategy is one that I’m always trying to convince my bestie to try. She and I always fly Spirit for quick trips to Las Vegas. I constantly recommend that she skip the carry-on and checked bag. Spirit charges $45 each-way for a carry on and $40 each-way for a checked bag as long as at it is purchased online prior to your flight. Waiting to purchase bags at the airport will cost even more. However, Spirit allows each customer to bring along one personal item for free. This can be a purse, laptop bag, or even a backpack. We have flown spirit so many times only bringing a backpack. This strategy really helps us cut flight costs. She ends up paying $80 more for a round-trip while I get off with only paying for the airfare. Through experience, I have found that a standard backpack will easily carry all the necessaties for a 7 day trip to a warmer climate and just enough for a 5 day trip to a colder destination. For trips longer than this, you may want to consider checking and bag and splitting the costs with a friend or even better, booking an Airbnb with a washer. New to Airbnb? Save $40 on your first rental.

3. When booking your spirit airline flights, skip seat selection, early boarding, and trip insurance. All of these costs can easily be avoided. You are likely only going to be on your flights for a short amount of time, so why not avoid paying extra for 6 more inches of leg room. Although I think trip insurance is pretty important, get coverage by booking your flight with a credit card that offers trip insurance. Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card is my go to. This card provides trip cancellation and interruption insurance for covered reasons up to $10,000 at no added cost. The Preferred card does come with a $95 annual fee. If you’re not down with that, try out the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited Card. It also provides trip protection, for up to $1,500 per person if your trip is cancelled for sickness or injury. 

4. One of the reasons that Spirit is able to offer such low cost flights is because they are a no frills airline. This means no complimentary pretzels or soda. Customers have to pay for all refreshments, including water, on board their flights. To save an extra $50 bucks per flight, I would happily bring a reusable water bottle which can be filled at the airport. Also, remember to pack your own snacks from home. Our kids are young, so bringing snacks along to the airport is the norm for us. We often pack fruit, crackers, and other favorites which are TSA security approved. Not only will you save money, but you’ll be able to choose healthy options which are usually much harder to find in airports. 

5. This last tip is one of my favorites. If Spirit doesn’t fly to the destination you need, consider flying to a nearby airport. I always start my search by using Skyscanner or Google Flights to find flights. There is an option on Skyscanner that allows you search prices for airports near your destination. For example, Spirit doesn’t fly to San Francisco (SFO), but flies to nearby Oakland Airport (OAK). It only takes 17 minutes to get from Oakland Airport to Downtown San Francisco using the local transit system, a small commute that is well worth it for the price difference. Also, Spirit’s hub in Fort Lauderdale (FLL) is a great alternative to its sometimes expensive neighbor, Miami (MIA). 

Are there any tips that you use when flying Spirit or any other low cost carrier that weren’t covered here? We loved to hear how you save money on travel! Leave us a comment below.