Budget airlines are quickly becoming the go-to option for frequent travelers, even if they don’t want to admit it. Carriers like Spirit Airlines attract passengers with their super low costs compared to major airline carriers. But budget travel isn’t without its critics.
The potential for added fees on Spirit Airlines has been the subject of too many jokes to count. There’s even an entire Twitter account, @SpiritAirSucks, dedicated to problems passengers have had with the company.
Someone booked me a flight on SPIRIT AIRLINES and I REFUSE!
— Blair Imani (@BlairImani) October 18, 2018
Booking a flight online with Spirit Airlines is like virtual robbery. The base rate for round-trip tickets are relatively low, but next thing you know I’ve racked up an addt’l $50-75 in seat selections/baggage fees.
HOW, SWAY? pic.twitter.com/IVOUV1RAIP
— A.Lo (@__mccartney) October 19, 2018
Spirit Airlines adds new lower cost ticket option… pic.twitter.com/XD6Y2Jd0fE
— James Cervantes (@VengefulWalnut) October 19, 2018
But we’d venture to say Spirit Airlines isn’t really that bad. The extra fees aren’t hidden; they’re actually right up front as you book your flight. Travel Noire’s own Marissa Wilson swears by Spirit. She has become a frequent flier on the airline and has mastered the art of avoiding those annoying upcharges. She recently shared her tips and tricks on how to avoid any extra fees, so you can do it too.
Invest in a nice duffle bag for strategic packing.
One of the biggest upcharges on Spirit is the baggage fee. All passengers are allowed a “personal item” to bring onto the plane for free. Any additional baggage will come at an extra fee. You must be realistic with your packing style. If you know you require a lot, it is best to just pay the baggage fee when booking your flight. If you happen to wait until the day of your flight, you will end up paying significantly more.
“I use a really nice Nike duffle bag whenever I fly on Spirit. I can get almost a week’s worth of clothing and even my laptop in it if I pack strategically,” Marissa says.
“You just have to be confident when you walk through the gate. Most agents are likely not going to stop and check to see if your duffle really meets the bag requirements unless you look guilty. It’s all about the art of finesse. Sometimes, I can even get away with bringing on another small backpack for my laptop with no issue. It’s literally all about your mindset when walking through the gate,” she says. “You just have to own it.”
Marissa hints that the only carry-ons that will truly get stopped are those with wheels. If you happen to have two small bags, just make sure that you are able to combine them if needed.
Be open to random seating.
Picking your own seat can bring an additional charge. If you absolutely need a specific seat, be sure to book it while booking your airfare. If you are going to pay for a seat, then go for an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs out some.
“I’ve learned that if you wait until you get to the airport, you can luck up on seats,” Marissa says. “People don’t want to pay the fee for the exit row seats so they are normally all available. You can end up asking to be assigned to one of those seats on the day of because the airline will need some people in those seats. So you will end up with more leg room at no extra charge.”
Bring your own snacks and drinks on-board.
The one thing that definitely stands out on Spirit in comparison to a major carrier, is that there is not complimentary meal or snack service. However, don’t let that stop you from using this carrier.
“Bring your own water bottle from home and fill it up before boarding. The water on board is the same price you will pay for it in the airport, so there’s not a big difference there. You can also bring your own snacks,” she says. “Honestly, just buy a cocktail on board, make some friends, and enjoy the ride. Flying on Spirit is all about your mindset, so make your experience fun.”
Join Spirit’s $9 Fare Club.
Spirit has a membership club that can be joined for a small fee, but it pays off. “The Spirit membership is worth it. You can save even more on flights and baggage. It’s slightly annoying to pay the fee up front but it’s not that bad honestly. You can get a flight that was $150 for non-members for as low as $75 with the membership.”
Marissa also suggests subscribing to Spirit’s email list so that you can get notified of their sales. They come around at least twice a month and are great if you are flexible with traveling.
Purchasing flights at the airport in advance will save you the most.
We admit this may be a stretch. While it’s convenient to book airfare via a computer or mobile device, if you are able to get to your airport you can save on flights.
Marissa explains, “Go to the airport on a random day and ask the agent at the Spirit counter what the costs are for flights within a date range. The key is being flexible. I’ve seen it where you can get a flight for as low as $20 by purchasing from the airport instead of online.”
Marissa further explains that purchasing one way flights can help as well. “ I would go to the airport in LA to purchase a one-way to Cleveland and I would have my friend go to the airport in Cleveland to purchase the one way back to LA. I found that it was cheaper this way than buying a roundtrip ticket.”