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On my most recent two-week trip to California and Colorado, we used miles and points to cover the majority of our flights and hotels. However, I didn’t have enough miles to cover our last flight home from Denver to Dallas, so I started looking into cash fares.
Spirit Airlines jumped to the top of my search. Not only did it have the lowest fare, but it had a flight time that would allow us to spend almost the entire day in Denver before flying home. Sold!
The Quirks of Spirit Airlines
If you have never flown on Spirit Airlines before, it’s important to understand why the price is so low. It’s definitely a no-frills airline.
For starters, Spirit charges for both carry-on luggage and checked luggage. And, the price is less if you pre-pay for your luggage instead of paying at the airport.
Most people cringe at the thought of paying for carry-on luggage. However, there is no charge to bring smaller carry-on items that fit underneath the seat in front of you. My family has carried on regular-size backpacks for free with no issues.
The maximum weight limit for checked luggage is 40 pounds (compared to 50 pounds on most other airlines). However, my suitcase on our fight from Denver was 48 pounds, and I was not charged extra. Your experience may vary.
If you want a drink or a snack, there’s a charge for that. Even water is not free.
And of course, Spirit Airlines charges for seat assignments. You can pre-pay for a seat assignment, or skip that charge and see where you land (probably in a middle seat).
Perhaps the biggest risk in flying on Spirit Airlines is its lack of interline agreements with other airlines. If your flight is canceled due to mechanical issues, you have to wait until you can fly on another Spirit plane. Other airlines have agreements with each other to accommodate passengers in those situations.
However, if you are prepared for Spirit’s rules and quirks, you can get some really good deals on fares. REALLY good fares!
The Big Front Seat
When I was purchasing tickets for me and my kids, I started looking at the seat selection screen. I was going to pay for seats together because I didn’t want the stress of sitting apart from my kids.
I noticed that all four of the “Big Front Seats” were available. And they were only $20 more than a “normal” seat! (Cost varies by route).
The Big Front Seat is 18.5” wide with a 36” pitch (compared to 28” pitch in the regular seats). There is no middle seat in the row, and there is a wider hand rest between the seats.
I decided to splurge and get the Big Front Seat for all four of us. After all, my kids have never sat in business or first class seats on other airlines, and they probably never will. While miles and points can make first class seats possible, my family is just too big in number to justify even spending points on those tickets. This might be our only shot at a comfy, wide seat!
I didn’t tell my kids before our flight that our seats would be larger, but they were pretty thrilled when they got on board. My kids don’t need the extra pitch for leg room, but the extra width does come in handy. Since our flight was late at night, they were able to spread out and sleep on the way home. Yay!
Last weekend, I also splurged on the Big Front Seat once more while flying home from New Orleans. Best $30 I ever spent!
I’m puzzled why these seats don’t sell out earlier. I think they are a great value for the money. My kids are already asking when we can fly on the “comfy yellow airplane” again. Ha!
Using Miles and Points to Fly on Spirit Airlines
Bank of America offers the Spirit Airlines Mastercard (non-affiliate link) with 15,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. The $59 annual fee is waived the first year. Those points are worth up to 3 round-trip flights during the off-season. Leana has this card and has written about it here and here.
The tricky thing about Spirit Airlines miles is that they expire after only 3 months. So, to maximize your bonus miles, you need to keep a recurring charge on your card to keep your miles active.
You can also use cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the Capital One Venture card to erase travel expenses, including tickets on Spirit Airlines. Both of these cards are in our affiliate network and pay us commission if you apply through our site.
Have you flown on Spirit Airlines? What do you think of the Big Front Seat?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.