How to Beat Spirit at its Own Game and Minimize Airline Fees
courtesy spirit airlines
If you've flown Spirit, you know that you'll pay a fee for anything above and beyond basic transportation. It's a great business model that has helped Spirit lower its fares
, but those fees can add up quickly. Here's how you can keep them as low as possible.
Buy Your Ticket at the Airport
This may sound funny, but it's the easiest fee to avoid completely, if you live near the airport. Spirit charges a "Passenger Usage Fee" of between $8.99 and $16.99 each way if you book online or over the phone. (If you do book over the phone, there's an extra $10 Reservation Center Booking fee on top of that!) To avoid it, just go to the airport and buy the ticket at Spirit's ticket counter. It's treated like a convenience fee. You have to go out of your way (and spend money on gas and possibly parking) to avoid the fee, but it will save you money on the ticket.
Join the $9 Fare Club
While I wouldn't suggest that everyone should join this club, you should certainly consider it. The $9 Fare Club actually costs $59.95 a year and will autorenew if you don't cancel, but you may save even more than that on a single booking.
Spirit often offers discounted fares to $9 Fare Club members (discounts can vary widely), but you can also get a $9 discount on any checked or carry-on bag you pay for online in advance of arriving at the airport. Sure, it'll put you on a Spirit marketing list, but the benefits apply to up to eight people traveling together. Do the math in advance, and you may very well find that even on a single booking, you'll save more than $59.95. Just remember to cancel your membership before the end of your year if you don't plan on flying Spirit again.
Don't Reserve Seats in Advance
This one is fairly obvious. If you want to save money, then don't pay for an advance seat assignment. Spirit will charge you to reserve any seat in advance of travel. If you don't pay, they'll just assign you a random seat when you check in. If better seats are available, I've found that they'll move you without charge at the airport. But Spirit flights often are jam-packed, so don't count on being able to move. If you're okay with a random middle seat, this is an easy fee to avoid.
Check In Online
If you show up at the airport and want to get a boarding pass from the ticket counter, don't. You'll pay $10 per boarding pass that they print, and that's just a silly fee to incur. Print at home and you're good to go.
Pack Extremely Light
Spirit charges not only for checked bags but also for carry-on bags that are too big to fit under the seat in front of you. If you can pack light, and I mean really light, you can avoid these fees. If the bag is less than 16 x 14 x 12 inches, you can fit it under the seat in front of you and you won't have to pay anything.
If You Can't Pack Light, Pay For Your Bags Early
The reality is that most people can't cut their packing down to something that small unless you're on a day trip. So how can you keep your bag fees lowest? Pay for them in advance.
If you pay for bags anytime before you check in for your flight, then you'll pay $30 for the first checked bag and $35 for a carry-on. If you do it during online check in, the price goes up $10 on each. At the airport? Tack on another $5. And if you try to sneak it to the gate and play dumb, you'll pay $100 for that bag. Don't do it. And no matter when you choose to check your baggage, be careful about Spirit's bag rules. Checked bags must weigh less than 40 pounds each—that's less than most airlines.
Bring Your Own Snacks and Drinks
Spirit will charge you for all drinks and snacks on the airplane, so if you're going to pay for that carry-on bag, you might as well put snacks in it and save a little money that way. Of course, you can't bring drinks through security anyway, but consider bringing your own water bottle and filling it up before you get on the airplane.
Follow these tips, and you'll save yourself some real money on your flight. Spirit is very up front about its various fees, so you can always see the current Spirit Optional Services schedule here
More on flying Sprit:
Higher Fees Actually Do Mean Lower Fares, At Least For One Airline
New DOT Regulations Could Kill This Annoying Airline Fee
Why Spirit Airlines Is Right