With my New Year’s Resolution to fly 10 times in progress, J and I decided to go to Vegas to see my family. We checked out Expedia and found a great deal for the 3 Nights at the Mandalay Bay and both of our flights for less than $800 total. It was with Spirit Airlines, which seemed like a risk, but we decided to book the deal and try it out.
Affiliate links are used in this post, but none for Spirit Airlines. This was written solely for the purpose to share my experience flying Spirit!
Making the Reservation
Right after booking the flight, I logged onto the Spirit website to check out more details about their business. When I saw the cost of a checked bag, the added fee for picking your own seat, and the carry-on fee I immediately texted J. We couldn’t believe we’d have to pay $30 to carry on a regular sized carry-on item or $6-12 to pick which seat we sat in in advance! Then, it was another ~$30 to check a bag. You have 24 hours to cancel with Spirit so we decided to do so and get our money back. I went through the steps to process the refund, until we saw how much of our $750 Expedia went to flights. Two round trip flights to Vegas were only $414!
My dad has flown with Spirit a few times so I texted him to see what his experience was like and if he had any tips. Then I went to Alaska and Southwest to see if we could get a better price there. To my total shock, flights were $700 for two, round trip, on Southwest and $800 with Alaska! That was more than the cost of the entire package we got with Expedia!!!
We decided to sleep on it before we cancelled anything. In the meantime, I talked to my dad about the airline, and read a few reviews online. While the point was repeatedly made that it’s a budget airline, overall the experiences of people who were prepared for the extra fees were positive. We decided to give it a go. I paid $6 each to pick our seats for the way there, and $8 each to pick our seats for the way home. (The way home had seats closer to the front.) I paid for these out of my vacation budget and didn’t ask J to contribute. This was because the desire to sit next to each other comes strongly from my anxiety/nerves about flying. It’s only a 2 hour and 20 minute flight. We were leaving Seattle at 6 AM. He couldn’t care less where we sat, and before the nerves popped up, neither could I. We’d both we asleep anyway. However, given my fears, I wanted to be guaranteed a seat together and the only way to do that was to pick them in advance. If you are flying alone and have no seat preference, you can wait it out and be given a free seat when you check in for the flight itself.
At the Airport
When I was researching more about Spirit, I decided to see if they had a military discount. They don’t have a traditional discount, but military personnel do get to check a bag for free. Wahoo! We always share a suitcase when we travel, so that ~$30 fee was off the table. We simply got to the airport early and went to the reservation counter to check the bag in. For some reason you can’t select a free military bag in advance. This made me a little nervous in case I was wrong about the process and we’d be paying the fee after-all, but it was smooth sailing at the counter. They even ask a clever question on the luggage tags, which made me smile even though it was well before the sun would be up for the day. The customer service was great, and the people in line all had a fun, excited vibe around them.
The free “personal item” sizes are very particular, but my Kate Spade bag travelled perfectly, and J just didn’t carry anything on at all besides his wallet. I noticed while watching other passengers that many people only had a book or a magazine on them.
I also noticed before boarding that there were no people in suits. I’m used to traveling Alaska, and the month prior flew to DC for work. There are often people in suits on my flights with Alaska, and a ton were in suits on the flight to/from DC. 30 minutes before boarding, I went through my pre-flying routine which includes things like refilling my water bottle, grabbing a snack from the bookstore, and listening to a meditation exercise.
The more casual atmosphere actually helped me to relax. this plane was full of regular people, just like me! I found a lot of comfort in that. Before boarding there were multiple announcements about bag sizes and extra costs on the flight. There’s really no excuse for not knowing. If you wait to check your bag until you board, or if you don’t pay the extra cost for a larger carry-on before you board, it will be an even larger (VERY large) cost, so don’t delay. The sooner you pay for the add-ons, the cheaper they’ll be.
I always bring my blanket scarf pictured above when flying. It’s the perfect accessory. Do you want a blanket, a scrunched up pillow, or a scarf? The choice is yours! To give you some spatial context, it’s sticking out of the top of my purse in that photo.
The Flight & Flight Attendant Service
We boarded and the person sitting next to me was super nice. The flight attendants were also great. I had worried that because it was a budget airline, the customer service would be lacking. In fact, they were awesome. They brought a small cart through once so that we could order food or drinks. They actually had tons of food and beverage, or just food or just beverage, “combos” that made it not much more expensive than buying a snack on any other airline. You do pay for water, sodas, juices and coffee that would be free on other airlines. However, I always bring an empty water bottle and fill it up myself while I’m waiting for my flight anyway. I also usually bring snacks like chips, granola bars and fruit snacks on a flight. If you usually buy snacks on a flight, consider bringing your own snacks regardless of the airline you fly. And while you can’t bring bottles full of liquid through security, you can bring an empty water bottle and fill it up before boarding. You’ll have more money in your vacation budget for the fun things!
I ordered a glass of wine, a step in my stress-free flying. I also took the time to explain to my new travel companion (J was already fast asleep by then) and the flight attendant that I don’t normally drink wine at 6:30 AM… That was the last time the cart came through. After that, if you needed anything else to eat or drink, you simply pressed the flight attendant button! Easy peasy!
This was really nice. It meant that I wasn’t being distracted from whatever I was doing to keep busy on the plane and any time I wanted to go to the bathroom, there wasn’t anything in the aisle-way. It reminded me of a less tech-savvy Virgin Airlines, where you can just tap the screen to order what you want whenever you need it. Also, when I did get up to use the restroom, I noticed that the seats were all significantly thinner than other airlines. Keep this in mind if you’re taking a longer flight. However, for a 2 hour flight they were totally comfortable. Because the seats weren’t big and bulky, it made the plane feel larger and more spacious. A big part of my flying anxiety comes from being claustrophobic. This spacious interior actually caused me to take a big deep breath and relax a little more while I waited for my turn.
I also put my makeup on during the flight if it’s in the morning. I do this for two reasons. First, whenever I would get ready before leaving my house, then go through security, wait for boarding, get on the plane, maybe take a nap, and then land, my makeup was not beautiful. Second, it gives me something to do. Our car-share driver warned me on the way to the airport that the table trays aren’t very big, and he was definitely right. I had to be more creative than previous flights on how to set up my iPad and makeup bag.
I finished my makeup while watching the rest of The Choice, which I’d downloaded for free on Amazon Prime Video and started while the flight from DC landed. Try a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime by clicking here. Before I knew it, the flight was landing! My friends were impressed when I checked in with them at landing at actually said it was an enjoyable flight!
All in all, I would whole heartedly recommend flying Spirit Airlines. Just makes sure you read the fine print and know what you’re getting into. I pulled up my receipt so I could show you the total I paid after added fees:
Base fare after taxes for two adults:
- Checked Baggage Fee: $0 (Military)
- Carry-On Baggage Fee: $0 (We kept our bags to the personal item limit)
- Seat Selections: $48*
- Total Reservation: $462.76
- Wine to Vegas: $7 + tax (same price as other airlines)
- Wine from Vegas: $7 + tax (same price as other airlines)
*I changed our seats several times. Each time, if you “upgraded” to a “better” seat, you only paid the difference. So I kind of fell into the “well it will only be $4 more to move up 5 rows” trap. If you don’t care where you sit, they will assign you a seat for free.
You can also select one of their larger seats for $30 each way. These don’t have any added benefit besides being larger, more comfortable and in the first few rows. If it were just me, I probably would have done it. But since I’d have to pay for two of us, it wasn’t worth it.
I also received cash back by using ebates, $12.50. As of today (07/12/2017) the offer is 10% cash back. My discover card then gave 1% cash back, about $7.
If you’ll recall, I was looking at $700-800 for us to fly on Alaska or Southwest. It was absolutely worth it, and I’d fly Spirit again without hesitation. Do your research so that you’re not surprised by what you’re getting (or not getting) out of a budget airline, and you can definitely save money while still having an enjoyable experience!
Speaking of saving money, I’m teaming together with a few other bloggers to bring you a paypal cash giveaway of $250!! Use it to go on an adventure somewhere, pay some bills or just buy yourself a nice treat! Enter to win using the rafflecopter below:
These big winnings made possible by how much money I saved flying Spirit. haha
Have you flown Spirit or another budget airline? What did you think? Would you do it again?