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Why Spirit Airlines is NOT a Good Deal
 (written in 2009)

We no longer think Spirit Airlines is such a good deal. 

First, there is NO customer service.  Try to talk to anyone but a phone clerk!  Death in the family, and you want to change your reservations?  Good luck!

Second, there are the added fees that Spirit has recently initiated:

  • $15 for the first bag you check each way

  • $25 for the second bag you check

  • $5-$15 to reserve EACH seat

  • $3-5 for non-alcoholic drinks including water (credit card only)

  • No snacks but you can buy a meal for $5-$7

Think you're going to take your own water aboard?  Think again.  On many Spirit flights, the gate agents do a last inspection of pockets and carry-on bags and confiscated our water bottle.

So we paid an extra $65 PER SEAT (one bag up, two bags back, aisle seats, no food).  That starts making the other airlines' budget tickets more attractive.

This summer, my daughter opted to fly to Panama with Taca, for just a little more than the base price on the Spirit flight.  The flight hours were much more convenient, they didn't get hassled about bags, and they were served food and non-alcoholic drinks for free.

The Spirit '$9 Fare Club' (which you have to pay to be a member of) USED to give some flights for $9 (plus taxes, etc).  Now, it just gives a discount of $9 per ticket.

And here is an email from a friend of ours who flew Spirit Airlines to Guatemala in December 2008:

Well, all those stories we heard about airline hassles came through for us yesterday, resulting in us missing our flight!  We are rebooked on Friday's flight, for a 2 day delay.  No big deal except for the annoying hassle.

We got to the airport with what we thought was ample time, but the lines at Spirit were long and incredibly slow, as people were allowed into the front of the line when they were brought in by RedCaps from the street. 

When we finally got to the checkin we were told we couldn't fly to Guatemala with one-way tickets as American passport holders.  I had an official letter from my marina and my boat papers, but they wouldn't budge.  Ultimately we were forced to purchase refundable return tickets to the tune of $1,000.  Fortunately we had the availability our credit card.

By this time we were within 20 minutes of departure, so the agent told us to hurry and we had to take off without even our receipt for the ticket we just purchased.  Getting through security was slowed by the fact that Spirit, beginning Dec 1, would not allow more than 1 checked bag per passenger, so we had to carry on 2 fairly large bags and get them through security, and of course they felt the need to thoroughly inspect them.

Despite all this, we finally arrived at the gate right on time, to find the plane had departed several minutes early, despite knowing we were on our way. The final straw was to discover that our two checked bags DID make the flight, so we have the anxiety of wondering if we'll ever see them again.

Well, enough venting.  We're scheduled for a Friday AM departure and this time we'll get there with even more time available.  If you run into anyone flying Spirit you might want to warn them to be prepared for the worst.

And another friend who flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Guatemala wrote us this in early February 2009:

We are in Antigua, Gautemala, and Spirit Airlines sent only 1 of 3 checked bags on the flight with us. 2 of our checked bags are still in Ft. Lauderdale!! We called our friends Henk and Suzi and they went to airport to check for us, as Spirit here in Guatemala would do nothing to help, and the phone system of theirs would not give us a person, only a computer, to talk to.

Our friends assured us that our baggage is in Ft. Lauderdale airport and will be on next flight (tomorrow). This really messes us up because we had a really tight schedule to get back to the Rio Dulce, provisioned up, and over the bar on the next big high tide.

(the bags eventually showed up, but it would have been twice as bad had they not had friends in Lauderdale willing to go roust the bags for them).

However, all that said, in February 2009, we booked our flight from Lima, Peru back to Ft. Lauderdale in May, and then back from Orlando to Bogota, Colombia in June.  Spirit is just way much more cheaper than anyone else... so I guess we've opted to live with the add-on fees, the inconvenience and the risk of crappy service.  :P