No Fluff No Frills – The Cost of a Low Cost Carrier



I always said I would never fly Spirit Airlines. Imagine my surprise when I booked a Spirit flight for my latest travel. Yes, **hangs head** those low fares grabbed more than my attention, they reached into my wallet and before you know it, I was off to New Orleans for the price of a good dinner. The experience wasn’t terrible because I was prepared. I knew that my end fare was going to be much higher than the advertised price. Still I knew what frills I couldn’t live without and what frills I could. I ended up with a fairly comfortable flight. Many of my fellow travelers did not.

Here is my receipt  for 2 seats plus my extras from Chicago to New Orleans.




Spirit Airlines tagline is “Less Money. More Go”. They offer “Frill Control” so that you can set your own level of comfort and your own price above the basic bare minimum. The bare minimum gets you onto a flight and gives you a seat. If you want to pick the location of that seat, take any bag (checked or carry on) with you, or have a drink of water you are going to pay extra. Bathrooms and security briefings are still free at the time of this writing.

So here are some tips for those of you that can’t resist that shiny tiny price of a flight.

If you even think you’ll be taking more than a handbag (or personal item sized 16”x 14”x 12”) than you should pay for it right away at time of booking your flight. The longer you wait, the more expensive that bag is going to become.  Here is the breakdown:



The fees in yellow are for members of their $9 club(membership $59.95). Fees in pink are for regular customers. Fees are per person, per way. So if you plan on coming home on Spirit you can just double this cost. They take these fees seriously and so should you. I saw a handful of people that thought they could get away with a free carry on and were stopped at the gate for a $100 donation. Don’t let that happen to you.

I also saw that the majority of bags on the baggage claim carousel seemed to be carry on size. I image many travelers decided to save a few bucks by checking their carry on just like me.




The next thing to consider is your seat. This is where you will experience the most discomfort so please think about it in advance.  Spirit says their seating is “cozy”. What that translates to in comfort factor is standard seat measure 17.8 inches with a 28 inch pitch – the smallest of the US carriers. Big Front seats are 20 inches wide and offer 6 – 8 inches more legroom. They are also the only seats on the plane that recline.

You can play roulette with your seat and let the airline assign it randomly for you.  If you’re traveling solo this might be a good option. However, they do not guarantee you will be seated with any travel companions.




I knew I wanted more room than I was going to get with their standard seats and I opted for the Big Front Seat. They are the first row only, so grab one of those 4 seats early. On my trip from Chicago to New Orleans I paid $70 round trip. I thought that was very reasonable for essentially first class comfort. Of course that was as much as my basic fare for the flight.

When you get ready to check in, make sure you print you boarding pass out at home or your hotel. Don’t wait to get to the airport. Here are the fees.




You know those pretzels and coffee you get for free from every other airline you’ve ever flown? Well they have a price tag also. My flight had $3 beverages for the standard.




There is one area where Spirit Airlines has a lower fee than your average big carrier. If you wanted to cancel or change a flight with the big names you’d be paying a $200 change fee domestically. Spirit is charging much less.




My flight was pleasant enough because I had a front row seat and was prepared for all the extra frill costs.  It was sort of nice not having flight attendants running up and down the aisle with a beverage cart and garbage bags. If you see a Spirit flight in your future be aware that the advertised low fare is nowhere near your real cost. Unless of course you can fly frill free.


For more travel tips come visit me on Facebook at Pink Carry On.

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