When I saw a sale and found convenient flights to and from Las Vegas, non-stop from Philadelphia, on Spirit Airlines for $124.58 TOTAL, I was like, “I HAVE to go to Las Vegas again.” (Even though, I had just been to Las Vegas a month earlier when I found a round trip flight on Southwest Airlines for the equivalent of $139 in frequent flyer points.)
I got that $125.58 total round trip price by passing on all additional charges, which are many with Spirit. I could bring a personal item up to the dimensions of 18” x 14” x 8” for no extra charge and would take any seat assigned to me. I joked about wearing all my clothes on the plane and people told me that a man was denied boarding for doing just that (on the same day that I flew to Las Vegas from Philadelphia on Southwest Airlines—where a carry on and the first two checked bags are no charge.) As it was, I wore about 3 layers of clothing and got everything I needed for a week in a backpack (albeit, a heavy back pack. I did laundry.)
I received many warnings that Spirit Air was bad news. Friends had been stranded when their flight was canceled and Spirit was unable to put them on another flight. I was also warned about the almost unbearable lack of leg room, but I had already purchased my ticket. Fortunately, if I was delayed, I didn’t have anything I needed to be home for right away and if I got stuck in Las Vegas, I could procure low cost or free hotel nights.
While I was booking my flight online, a message popped up telling me that I could receive immediate approval for the Spirit Airlines™ World Mastercard® and could then charge my flight to it. (I thought, “Why not?” I know that for some, it is in their best interest to comply with the Chase 5/24 rule, but I have maxed out my Chase credit with the two Chase credit cards I have, so I’ll accept any decent offer for a credit card from another bank.)
I received 15,000 miles for being approved for the Spirit Airlines™ World Mastercard® and after I got home, I received a letter from Bank of America offering me a $100 statement credit if I use the card to make $500 in retail purchases within the first 90 days of having the card. I was concerned that this was in lieu of the 15,000 miles, but when I phoned, the agent confirmed this was an additional bonus. Score!
I got lucky and got an aisle seat both ways! I don’t have to worry about legroom but felt sorry for my tall seatmate. The width of the seat didn’t feel any smaller than Southwest and I was pleased when the seat pocket in front of me, held my water bottle easily.
When you book online, there are a lot of options that you have to click through to purchase your flight. The system informs you numerous times and is very clear about the baggage fees and the seat selection prices. They even sent me a separate email detailing the exact size of a personal item and listing the cost of checking a bag at the airport. I read everything VERY carefully, so I wouldn’t get any surprises.
After clicking through options for the flight you’re purchasing, you’ve got to click through options for adding a hotel, car rental, airport transportation and entertainment. It amuses me to no end that I was given an option for a room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for seven nights for the rate of $4169.28 per person! Like someone spending $125 total to fly to Vegas on Spirit Air would then spend $4200 on a hotel. Even better—and funnier—the option to stay seven nights at Circus Circus for $1549.04! I wouldn’t stay in that hellish environment for free!
How was the flight?
So, my flight out was on time and my flight back was delayed half an hour, which I was informed of by email.
During the instructions for take-off and landing, there was a caution given, that should someone have managed to sneak a little bottle of alcohol through security, if caught opening it on board, they would be subject to arrest. Is this a big problem for Spirit? Are hordes of people drinking a nip of contraband “spirit,” disrupting flight schedules and presenting a danger to themselves or others?
Other than price, I find no reason to fly Spirit Airlines. If you need comfort or anything extra beyond just getting yourself from Point A to Point B, a fare sale on another airline is probably going to be the better overall deal. But fares under $150 round trip from Philadelphia to Las Vegas don’t come up as often with other carriers, so I am willing to be inconvenienced for a low price.
Now that I’ve taken a recent and successful Spirit Air cross country flight, I’m willing to look for low fares on Spirit in conjunction with making speculative flight reservations on Southwest Airlines, where you can cancel a reservation and receive flight credit. Just this week, I booked on Spirit to fly to Las Vegas in May (to attend ZorkFest) for $126.63 round trip, because I could cancel the Southwest reservation I made and receive credit that I can use in the summer, when I plan to fly next.
I’d prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines, because the seat pitch is bigger, I can try to check in at exactly 24 hours before the flight and get a B boarding pass so I don’t have to get a middle seat and both a carry on and checked luggage are free, but the Southwest fare was double what I’m paying on Spirit.
Free Spirit is the frequent flyer program of Spirit Air and in part two of this article, I’ll detail that very odd program.