Tips And Tricks For Travelling With Spirit Air

Spirit Air is an Econo airline.

So you need to know some things about how to best navigate it and take advantage of cheap flights.

Booking with Spirit Airlines is sometimes worth the cheap seats. I’ve done my share of flying with them and have found some tricks that pay off with them.

Never Book A Return Trip

When I book flights on Spirit, I always book the outbound and return flights as separate one-way tickets.

This is one I learned (sort of) the hard way. There is a reason for this that has to do with cancelling/ignoring a delayed flight.

For a couple years, I was flying about 6 to 8 times a year back and forth between Detroit (DTW) and Oakland, California (OAK) airports.

What would happen occasionally is that a flight would get cancelled or delayed.

It happens to everyone from time to time (although my experience with Frontier Airlines is worse for cancellations and bumps).

Here is what happened and why I suggest this.

I had a flight out on a Friday night from Detroit to Oakland.

The flight went out Friday night, with a connection in Las Vegas (LAS). When we landed in Vegas, and there was no flight crew to go from Vegas to Oakland. But because I had a return ticket, if I didn’t finish that flight from Vegas to Oakland, it would have been considered and abandoned flight and the return trip would have been cancelled.

They rescheduled me on the next available flight, which was two hours in Oakland before I would have to board the return flight back home.

Because I had some extra points with Delta, I was able to catch a Saturday morning flight to Oakland and get my business done, getting back on the return Spirit flight that Saturday night

I didn’t have to stand in line to reschedule the ticket or have the return flight cancelled. Because the return flight was a separate ticket, I avoided having to stand in line with the other 120 passengers to reschedule the flight so as to not lose the return seat.

The fact is, it just gives you more flexibility.

Consider Booking Separate Airlines for Out and Back. 

Airline tickets can vary greatly in price and you might get a better deal if you look at separate airlines out and back. Spirit is usually cheap. But sometimes there are better deals out there. Try Google flights to see.

Use the phone app to board. But print a boarding pass anyway.

Spirit will charge you for extras. One of the extras they charge for is printing a boarding pass at the airport.

You can use the Spirit app on your phone to display your ticket. But always print one just in case.

Watch the price of the extras.

Spirit is the great crap shoot on price. But sometimes, you’ll do better on one of the more standard airlines. I booked a flight once on Spirit from Detroit to Oakland for the trip down and Southwest Air for the trip back.

The reason? The Spirit price was a LOT cheaper on the way down, but coming back, it was close. Southwest was a little more; but by the time you add baggage charges with Spirit that you don’t have with Southwest, Southwest was cheaper. And as far as the feel of the flight, no contest.

Say “no” to the cookies.

If you use your browser on a regualar basis, you might be surprised to know that the airlines know how often you’re searching for that flight. If you do it a lot, they sometimes offer a higher price because they’re betting you have to take that flight.

Get on the Spirit Air mailing list.

Maybe a little spammy but they will email you when they need to fill some seats. If you’re flexible with dates, it can make a big difference in costs from one day to the next.

Game the system a little.

This might be considered a “gray area,” but if you pick a seat, it gives you “class 2 boarding” which puts you ahead of a lot of the pack for getting to your seat.

There is no rush for your seat, since you’ve reserved it. But there is a rush for space in the overhead. And if you have a personal item, and you have priority seating, try throwing your personal item in the overhead for some more foot room (which is at a premium on a Spirit plane).

They might ask you to move it back down to under the seat in front of you, but I’ve never been asked (yet).

Volunteer to get bumped.

Sometimes they overbook, and if you volunteer for a later flight, they will give you points or vouchers for later travel.

Spirit charges for extras. Not all of them are worth it.

Priority boarding may or may not be worth it. As I said, if you pay to reserve your seat, they move you to boarding group 2 which gets you pretty much all the advantage you need.

Be careful bidding on the extras after you book.

What do I mean by that? Sometimes, you’ll get an email that there are the “big front seats” available at a discount price.

If you had booked two tickets, and had picked seats together, then when you book those big front seats, there is no guarantee they’ll get you together in those seats you’re booking extra.

Same goes for bumping up to the seats with extra legroom. Be careful that you don’t end up having to pay again to switch those extra legroom seats for extra legroom seats that are together.

Check an airport map to be sure where you’re going.

Some Spirit gates and ticket counters are convenient. Some are jacked up and out of the way.

For instance, Detroit is pretty straightforward because the whole terminal is straightforward. You park in the blue deck and walk right in. Spirit’s gates are the same there as everything else in the North Terminal.

New York varies, depending on JFK, La Guardia, or Newark.

La Guardia is a whole different (tiny) terminal than most everything else at the airport.

The ticket counter for Spirit at Miami is waaaay down the end of the building. So, depending on where you drop off your rental car, you have a long walk, and it’s kinda hard to find. You have to ask.

Oakland and Las Vegas are pretty straightforward. But always look at an airport map.

Spirit isn’t primo. But it’s cheap and if you’re on a budget, it can save you a ton.

You just have to plan it well. Good luck. Let me know if you have any stories to tell!


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