Why I fly Spirit With A Smile On My Face

And not just Spirit, indeed all of the “bargain” airlines make me quite cheerful! What isn’t to love? I’m flying off to explore somewhere new, and saving money while doing it! Sounds great!

Oh, but perhaps many of you have heard the rumor that flying with these airlines is a horrible experience best left to the peasant class of air travelers? Maybe poor Delta just treats you so nicely that you’d hate to turn your back on her?

It seems that hating on Spirit has become popular these days (at least with people at my workplace), but I want to challenge the haters! If I’m honest, I actually feel bad for Spirit. There’s lots of bargain airlines but they seem to get the brunt of the criticism*.

So let’s set the record straight and challenge the misconceptions. But first, why bother flying with them again?

Oh yeah, because they are cheaper. Not just slightly cheaper, either. I find that they are often 30 - 40% less than Delta or American, sometimes even lower. Cheaper flights equals more adventures, which sounds good to me! Yet, skeptics may ask, “what are you giving up for that price?” Well, without further ado, let’s debunk the common complains about these airlines.

#1: THEY ARE ALWAYS DELAYED

Anecdotally, this isn’t true at all for me. I estimate I’ve flown around 20 different bargain airline flights, and have had one delay: 1 hour in Denver with Frontier. However, I do recognize that I could just be lucky. So what do you do if your flight is delayed? Panic?? I like to approach every flight with the assumption that it will be delayed, because it isn’t a rare occurrence for any airline. Bring an extra book and go with the flow, adventure is all about unforeseen circumstances.

#2: CARRY ONS AND CHECKED BAGGAGE ARE EXPENSIVE

Yes, it is. The solution is obvious, pack light. Perhaps I’ve done too much wilderness backpacking, but I have no issue fitting everything I need for weeks into one daypack when traveling. It may take a little practice, but you can too!

The main offenders: clothes and souvenirs. You don’t need a different outfit for each day, and you can wear clothes more than once without washing them. Bring a couple pants and shirts, and mix and match over your trip**. As for souvenirs, you can do without 90% of them***. Does a refrigerator magnet from a touristy shop say anything about what you experienced on your trip?

#3: NO LEG ROOM

It is true that these airlines tend to have less leg room, but would anyone consider any economy class flight to be truly roomy? I notice the difference in legroom between airlines, but not by much. I’ve yet to encounter a flight where I’m truly “comfortable”, so sticking with the cheaper uncomfortable option is the best choice when it saves you so much money.

Think of it this way, would you hand over a $100 bill to the flight attendant to get 2 inches of additional legroom? Probably not. Additionally, these bargain airline flights are often domestic and pretty short. We can all tough it out for a few hours!

#4: NO IN-FLIGHT MEDIA OR DEVICE CHARGERS

This is not a popular suggestion, but bring a book. If you haven’t read since you were forced to in school, now is a good time to start again. Travel is full of occasions where you will be waiting or in transit with nothing to do. Books are cheap, packable, require no charging, and can be engrossing (yes, they really can).

Not buying the whole book idea? You don’t have to resort to your phone! How about a puzzles  like crosswords, soduku, etc.? Still no? Flex your creative muscles and draw, or write your own travelogue. Nothin’? You must be a die-hard extrovert, so strike up a conversation with your seat neighbors.

#5: NO FREE DRINK / SNACK

I’ll admit, with minimal sarcasm, that I do love getting my 5oz of coffee and 9 almonds while flying. It’s something to look forward to on the flight, and makes me feel like I’m their special guest. Am I willing to tack $70 to my ticket cost for that “free” snack? Nope. If a flight is going to be long enough where you may need a snack, simply pack one ahead of time.

Yes, there are sacrifices that come with bargain airlines, but it’s time to look at them as worthy of the savings. The more money you save getting to your destination is more money you have while at your destination, keep that in mind when comparing ticket prices! If you’re not convinced, that’s fine. More open tickets for me!

Do you already fly these airlines? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!

Until next time, happy travels.




*Nope, I don’t work for Spirit and I’m not getting paid to clean the mud off their name. Not that I’d say no to a generous thank you from their PR department (cough, free flights for life, cough).

**Don’t cut back on underwear, though.

***See, Sturgeon’s Law.