Spirit Airlines has earned itself a, let’s say, less-than-perfect reputation from travelers. The airline is one of the pioneers in the ‘no-frills’ way of flying offering no free snacks, no free seat assignments, no free bags and, on occasions I can even attest to, no free smiles. Their largely touted $9 fares aren’t even enticing enough to get my friends to book. Word association I’ve heard includes ‘never’, ‘worst’ or ‘why’. I once flew them home from Thanksgiving and truly thought my seat had been shrunken as a prank.

Sometimes they suck. Sometimes, though, they can actually be a great choice for your travels. Here’s my why and how to.

They fly direct to many major cities. Spirit is excellent for a short city hop. Especially if you are traveling during the off season and non-weekends.

Many of their flights are direct. I am the first to admit how much I adore Southwest [A-List humble brag ;p] but I am always deterred by layovers. Stopovers, long or short, waste time and drain me as a traveler.

You can handle anything for three hours. This is the advice I give my boyfriend when he travels back home to Chicago. When it comes to air travel I believe the sweet spot seems to be about three hours, give or take. This is the amount of time an average person can tolerate being uncomfortable, hungry and antsy. Also, the time goes quicker when you don’t think about it.

You really can save a lot. This is just fact. I’ve tinkered with flight prices over the years comparing Spirit with other contenders and you can save you big bucks. Sometimes upwards of $250.

They are human and will give you a cup of water. As with lots of things in life, you just have to ask. No water seems inhumane and the flight attendants I’ve asked in the past seem to get that. If you’re uncomfortable to ask during official service wait and go to the front or back of the plane after they’ve served. Be kind, cue the puppy dog eyes and just ask.

Packing light is something you are capable of. Trust me. Unless it’s a big holiday trip, I always fly with a carry on. A carry on that includes my laptop and camera gear, mind you. Just bring less and you can easily avoid that bag fee. Pro-tip: They rarely actually measure your bag so don’t fall for the additional fees when you are booking online. It’s a scare tactic. Bringing a large backpack is your best best and maybe a large purse or bag.

Empty seats. Never guaranteed, of course. The last time I flew Spirit I was fearful. It had been awhile and I was not in the mood. The flight turned out to be only 1/3 full, giving everyone had a row to themselves. I slept the whole way, and not just because I possess the inside scoop for sleeping on planes. I’ve heard other stories recently like this too. Always a chance.

My last flight experience with Spirit. OAk-LAX.

Don’t fly Spirit if: You are checking bags. Are traveling during the holidays. Are traveling with others. Get hungry after a couple hours. Are looking for a luxurious travel experience.

Spirit is certainly not the best option for everyone when it comes to travel. Their traveler experience can be challenging and add to the stress of traveling in general. If you are doing a short jaunt, on a budget and can pack light, Spirit is an excellent option for travelers and one I always consider in my travels.

Have you had a good or bad experience with Spirit? Would you fly them again? Would love to hear in the comments below!


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