Spirit Airlines in Fort Lauderdale


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In the spring of 2014, I was heading home to Los Angeles from the Detroit airport. I was but a poor, unemployed freelance writer, and had only managed to scrounge up enough nickels for a flight on Spirit Airlines. It’s been a long time, but I believe that flight was somewhere in the neighborhood of $60. 

I wasn’t too worried after the first delay, but the second and third admittedly made me a little nervous. There wasn’t a fourth. The next update that came from Spirit Airlines, about six hours after the initial scheduled departure, was that the flight had been canceled altogether. It was at that point that everybody scrambled to the customer service desk at the same time, and there was essentially one of those clouds of cartoon smoke that pops up when there’s a big scuffle.

After at least an hour on hold, I had the privilege to speak to the Spirit Airlines customer service team, where they declined to pay for a hotel room. The next flight wasn’t for two full days, which for sure seems like a prank. After the agent had finished laughing in my face for suggesting reimbursement for my accommodations, he told me that Spirit will only cover hotel stays if somebody is delayed on a layover. Sounds like a lie to me, but there I was. Stranded in Romulus, Michigan.

Never again will I fly Spirit Airlines, I thought to myself. Never again.

So I Flew Spirit Airlines Again

Two months ago, I was scrambling to find last-minute tickets for a cross country flight to a wedding. Because I am stupid, I waited way too long and everything was extremely expensive. Everything except for my old arch nemesis, Spirit.

I saved at least $300 on my round-trip flight with Spirit. Had everything gone even remotely adjacent to the plan, I might have considered flying them again. That said, let’s take a look at the types of things you might need to pay for even after you’ve purchased your ticket on Spirit Airlines.

  • Bags. You’ll need to pay an additional fee for any checked bags. In my case, they were $80 if you booked them in advance. At the gate, they’ve got a slim, wooden box a little bigger than a briefcase that you can try stuffing your possessions into. If your bag makes it in, it can go on the plane for free. If not, they’ll make you check it right then and there, and dear readers, guess how much that costs? Did you guess $100? Because it’s $100.

  • Seats. If you’d like to lock down the seat of our choice, expect to pay another $30-$100. Hope you like the middle!

  • Change fees. Prepare to pay at least another hundo if you want to change your flight within 24 hours of your departure. Luckily this doesn’t apply to changes on Spirit’s end, seeing as those seem to happen every few minutes.

  • Printed boarding passes. How wild is that? While you can get your boarding pass for free on the app, if you don’t have a smartphone, expect to pay a whopping $25 for the gate agent to print your pass. $25. Two five. Just insane. 

  • Snacks and beverages. While definitely the most avoidable extra charge, it’s probably the most frustrating, considering that nearly every other airline offers at least some snacks and beverages for free.

But so what, I thought to myself. That’s OK. I’m prepared. I’ll bring a tiny carry-on, I won’t choose my seat, and I’ll skip my ginger ale. No prob. 

What I didn’t account for was the additional two days I needed to spend. Because Spirit did it to me again. 

Another. Damn. Two. Day. Cancellation.

spirit airlines screenshotPhoto credit: Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

I can’t really even be mad at that email, right? It’s too funny to be mad. They’re not wrong. That change was indeed “not ideal.”

Thankfully, I was in a place where I could stay for free with family, but what if I wasn’t? That would have been a hotel charge. It was, however, two more days of a rental car and food expenses. For the average person dealing with bags, seats, a hotel, and even a damn bottle of water, it’s incredibly easy for Spirit’s initial low prices to balloon into an extravagant trip.

Spirit Airlines, for all its surface-level affordability, isn’t worth it. It’s kind of like riding in a dirty Uber where the driver is looking at their phone, except if that Uber charged you $100 to bring your backpack. And right before it was about to show up, it told you that it actually wasn’t coming but you can get another one in two days if you wanted to.

So maybe, just don’t do it.

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