Starting this Thursday, jet-setters of Columbus will have a new way to get out of town.
Spirit Airlines, known for it’s notoriously cheap if not overly complicated airfare will begin offering daily direct flights from John Glenn International Aiport to Orlando, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Fort Myers. In March, seasonal flights to New Orleans and Myrtle Beach will be added.
But flying via Spirit isn’t like flying on other airlines. This is barebones travel at it’s most extreme, with guests wracking up extra costs for everything from luggage to onboard water. For the inexperienced traveler, booking a trip through Spirit Airlines can feel a little like running through a gauntlet.
But with a little extra planning and some pro-tips, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and skip the travel horror stories.
Tip #1: Pay the extra to choose your seat.
If you’re on a really tight budget and you don’t care, you can take your chances when it comes to seat assignment. But since you’re already saving hundreds of dollars, why not treat yo’ self? Airplane seats have been getting smaller and smaller through the decades, so it’s probably worth finding a seat that won’t leave your knees permanently embedded in your chest. You may be hurling through the air in a giant tin can, but there’s no need to feel like a sardine.
Tip #2: You will be your only source of entertainment, so plan accordingly.
When you fly on Spirit, you are your own entertainment. Make sure that your phone, tablet, or laptop are fully charged or bring your own charging device because the only in-flight entertainment you’ll experience will be watching the screaming children around you or listening in while the old guy in the back prays to every god under the sun.
Tip #3: Take half of the clothes and twice the money.
This was some sage advice given to me by my aunt and it’s the most applicable it’s ever been when flying Spirit Airlines. You are only allowed one personal bag on the airplane for free, and Spirit doesn’t mess around when it comes to size requirements. Although technically a bag like this would meet their strict size requirements, if they get suspicious of the fancy wheels and decide it’s actually a carryon, you could end up paying $100+.
When it comes to checked luggage, you’ll want to pay for it as soon as possible. The price gets higher as your flight gets closer, and it will jump even higher if you try to purchase it when you check-in.
Tip #4: Buy your tickets the old fashioned way.
Buying tickets online and over the phone comes with all sorts of extra charges. If you can, the best way to buy your flights through Spirit is to go to the counter at the airline. Hop in the “Full Service” line and buy your tickets there. If you decide that it’s worth the extra $ for the convenience online, you should know that you must print your boarding passes out and bring them with you. Why?
Because, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there is an extra charge to print them at the airport.
Tip #5: The ride will be loud and full. Bring ways to block out the madness.
These flights are dirt cheap. They’re easily affordable for families which is great, but it also means that there may be a lot of kids on your flight. Do yourself a favor and come equipped with earplugs, an eye mask, and anything else that’s allowed on a flight that will help distract you from the crying.
Tip #6: Nothing in life is free. That applies to this plane ride as well.
Even water costs money on Spirit Airlines. There is no food provided by the airline, so you’ll want to bring your own snacks for the trip. If you don’t want to pay $3 for a bottle of water, you’ll want to bring an empty bottle with you. You can fill it up at the airport before you leave and enjoy it during your flight knowing that you saved some extra $$$.
Tip #7: If a deal seems to be good to be true, it probably is.
Spirit offers a “$9 Fare Club”. It doesn’t get you flights for $9 and it actually costs around $60, so the name is more than a little misleading. The Fare club does get you discounts on airfare and luggage, but you’ll have to price out your trip to see if the additional cost is worth it.
Tip #8: You will almost certainly be delayed or late.
According to Forbes, just 65.3% of Spirit’s flights were on time in 2016. Since the odds are not entirely in your favor, it’s best to plan ahead. If you need to be in town by a specific time, Spirit may not be your best option. But if you have a flexible schedule, the amount of money you can save with a cheap flight can help you keep yourself sane as you play your 25th round of Candy Crush in a row sitting outside of an airport Starbucks.
If you get bumped off of your flight, Spirit will accommodate you on the earliest available flight, as well as cut you a check for compensation.
Finally, when it comes to Spirit Airlines, the key to a successful trip is just to use common sense.
If you are taking a quick trip that is light on luggage and you can rough it for a few hours, then this airline is perfect. If you’re used to the finer things in life and you can’t travel with less than a full-luggage set, you may want to consider a more traditional airline.
For information about flights, baggage requirements, ticket prices, and more, please click here.