Spirit Airlines 101: Booking

Yellow plane labelled 'spirit' begins to take off or land on a tarmac.

This post is not sponsored, if anything, I’m pay them by being a $9 Fare Club member.

Flying.  It’s come a long way from the elegant days of yester-year.

Instead of the well-dressed ladies and gents in their plush oversized seats served caviar on silver spoons, it now dredges up a bit of forlorn acceptance at joining hundreds of fellow travelers doing their best impression of a sardine can.

Well, it does for me at least.

Add to it an overnight, red-eye, flight and I honestly want to take a nap right here in my chair and it would probably be more comfortable.

Yet there I was in October, looking for a flight that:

  • Didn’t interfere with the typical 9-5 workday
  • Gave us plenty of time to drive, park, and check-in to LAX
  • Had us landing early in the morning in Detroit, Michigan

An overnight flight, unfortunately, ticked all the boxes and I found myself staring at a Spirit flight that took off at 10pm, giving us plenty of time to drive the 2 hours to LAX and get through the mess of traffic, TSA, and fellow travelers that stood between us and our gate.

Spirit Airlines – your friendly budget flyer

The cool thing about Spirit is that you get exactly what you pay for – essentially, it’s the à la carte of flying, the ‘choose your own adventure’.

If you want to bring extra bags, choose a seat ahead of time, and drink your way through the flight, then treat yo’self.  If you can pack everything in a backpack, bring your own snacks and refillable water-bottle, and couldn’t care less who you’re sitting next to, then enjoy having a cheaper ticket.

No matter where you fall on that scale, you’re in charge.


Background: we were attending a wedding in Michigan before heading to Florida for a part vacation at Universal, part Continuing Education Conference for Doctors.  In other words, we were packing heavy.  Plus, we like to sit together so a random seat lottery wouldn’t do.

[[Full disclosure, Kay’s the Doctor, not me.  I was just going to drive them around and have a horrible time enjoying roller coasters while they were l e a r n i n g.]]

As a $9 Fare Club member ($59/year), I made sure to book directly on Spirit’s site to take full advantage of my membership.  If you don’t want to pay, you can join for free and just track your miles with the airline but, as you’ll see below, the $59 cost can easily be made up – sometimes in just one flight.  Additionally, you only need 1 person in your group to be a member to take advantage of the savings across the board.

Once I clicked through to the booking page, I was greeted by this exciting pop-up:

I mean, they literally call it “The Thrills Combo”, how cool is that?

But in all honesty, ‘checked bag’, ‘carry-on bag’ and ‘pick your seat’ were all things that I needed to add on anyway – so I did a bit of digging.

Okay, I literally just hit ‘X’ to close the pop-up, I’m just trying to make it sound cool alright?

Under the pop-up was this à la carte station of goodies:

For bags alone, the charge ranged from $30-50 a bag depending if it is a carry-on or checked size AND whether you are a $9 Fare Club member or not (prices more than double at the gate, so don’t try to be sneaky).

Additionally, if you pay for your carry-on ahead of time, you will be placed in group 1 or 2 when boarding to ensure you have a chance to store your bag in the overhead compartments.  Space is definitely limited, so this is a wonderful perk for being honest with the airline about what you will be bringing with you.

Back to the math: between bags and reserving a seat, it was already surpassing the cost of “The Thrills Combo” so I went ahead and added it to both of our tickets.

Then came the screen to choose seats:

*Note, the amount of seats differ by plane

Now, look at those lovely two seaters in the front that seem to take up the same plane real estate as six regular economy seats.  In fact, they are practically domestic first-class, though Spirit calls them ‘Big Front Seats’, with their 20” of width and 36” of pitch (basically, the distance between the back of your seat to the back of the seat in front of you).  Regular economy seats have 17.75” of width and 28” of pitch (2.25” and 8” of difference, respectively).

Whatever your choice of seat, do keep in mind that all Spirit Airline seats come ‘pre-reclined’, airline speak for ‘you have no control over what your seat does, but at least the person in front of you cant recline back into your lap’.

When we booked (months in advance) there were only a handful of seats, largely in the back of the plane, that were included for free to reserve via “The Thrills Combo”.  Seats closer to the front, exist rows, and, the front seats themselves all gradually increased in reservation cost.  Again, the least picky you are will result in a cheaper flight.

My Take

As a 5’3½” person (the ½ is important), I’m normally not too cramped on an airplane – public transport is one of the few times I’m thankful for my small stature.  On the other hand, my wife is 5’10” with most of the height in her legs; needless to say, flying isn’t something she looks forward to.

So, since we were flying a red-eye and would be hitting the ground running in Michigan, the additional cost of the front seats were a reasonable exchange for the chance for both of us to have a decent night’s sleep.

Want to learn more about Spirit’s $9 Fare Club Membership: click here
Or to look at their Free Mileage Program: click here

I’m currently working on a post covering the difference between flying Spirit’s Big Front Seats vs their Economy Seats, check back soon!

Please let me know if you have any questions – I’m more than happy to help 😊

Travel safe,

2 thoughts on “Spirit Airlines 101: Booking

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