Spirit Airlines Review – Which Seats To Choose, In-Flight Experience & More

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Spirit Airlines Review - LAS to OAK.
Gotta love a plane with advertisements!

Spirit Airlines Review – Short Haul LAS-OAK

Note: I apologize for the quality of the photos.  It was tough finding time to take the photos since the schedule was so tight and I would have been holding up too many people.

By now you are probably sick of my posts about Spirit Airlines.  Last week I covered how to avoid fees when flying Spirit and the economics of my recent flight on Spirit Airlines.  Part of the reason I write this blog is to share how it is that I am able to travel to so many places for so little money. That is the reason that I am concluding my recent posts about the airline, with a full Spirit Airlines Review.

Sure credit cards and miles and points are part of that, but finding good deals and leveraging them is very important as well.  When you are working to stretch a travel budget, especially with a family, flying airlines like Spirit sometimes makes sense.  Here is my review of my recent flight.

Introduction

Last week I flew up to Northern California to visit my father.  Flying other airlines would have cost me about $300 additional when the rental car and other costs were factored in.  As mentioned before, I covered all of the cost comparison and analysis in my economics post.  For this trip I carried only a small backpack which is free under Spirit’s restrictive baggage policy.  In the small bag I carried four days worth of clothes, toiletries and my laptop.  While space was tight, I am used to packing in a minimalist fashion, so it was not a big deal.

Spirit Airlines Review - LAS to OAK.
This bag flies free with Spirit!

Spirit Airlines Review For LAS-OAK Leg Including Big Front Seat

Spirit Airlines opens up online check-in twenty-four hours before the flight.  When checking in, Spirit randomly assigns you a seat unless you pay to upgrade to a preferred seat like an exit row.  For this flight I was online as soon as it opened up and was assigned aisle seat 17C.  Since being in a middle seat is my worst nightmare, I was happy with this assignment and didn’t consider purchasing an upgrade.  At the airport I took my pre-printed boarding pass straight to security where I was through in five minutes.  Spirit uses the old “B Gates” at McCarran.  This area of the airport is not very busy and I found plenty of places to sit while waiting for the plane.

My flight from LAS-OAK was mostly full.  There were maybe four empty seats on the entire plane and luckily the middle seat next to me was one of them!  I say luckily, because I quickly realized how little leg room these seats have.  Without stretching my legs out under the seat in front, my knees easily dug into the seatback a couple of inches.  Since the middle seat was open, I was able to stretch out a bit.  With that said, by the end of the hour long flight my back was already hurting.

Spirit Airlines Review - LAS to OAK.
Legroom was definitely tight in the normal seats!

The in flight service was pretty much what I expected.  Spirit doesn’t include anything, so if you want food or drink it comes at an upcharge.  For me the biggest surprise was how friendly the flight attendants were.  They smiled and genuinely seemed to be enjoying their job unlike some other airlines where they often are rude to customers.  The most interesting part of the flight in my opinion was the credit card pitch.  The male flight attendant sold the credit card hard.  He kept going over the features and benefits and in the end they must have had 20 people apply!  I was shocked.

Spirit Airlines Review OAK-LAS Leg

The same as before, I checked in for this flight as soon as it opened up online.  Unfortunately this time I was given 17E.  17E?!?!?  What?  A middle seat?  I pondered if I should upgrade seats, but unfortunately their website doesn’t allow for that after you are checked in.  After remembering how uncomfortable that aisle was, I decided it would be prudent to upgrade to a “Big Front Seat” at the airport if it was reasonably priced.  After all I could then compare it to a normal seat for the purpose of this review.  Win win!

Spirit Airlines Review - LAS to OAK.
An idea of how tight normal seating is!

While the Big Front Seat was $15 when I checked in online, it had gone up to $17 at the airport.  Not a big deal and in the end I decided to pay the money to be comfortable.  For those who don’t know, Spirit Airlines has a few seats in the front of the aircraft in two across seating that they call a Big Front Seat.  These seats are not only wider, but they have more legroom and actually recline.  To compare, the normal seats on Spirit have a 28″ pitch and 17.75″ width, the Big Front Seats have a 36″ pitch and 20″ width.  Believe me, the extra legroom came in handy!

While not as friendly as the first flight, the attendants on this leg were pleasant and courteous.  For some reason, they didn’t mention the credit card at all on this flight.  Perhaps they hit their quota for the month?  The only other thing I should mention is that Spirit still makes you turn off electronic devices below 10,000 feet.  I really don’t understand this considering all of their planes are newer and the new rules have been in effect for quite awhile.  Are they just too cheap to pay the FCC for the license?  Who knows?!?

Spirit Airlines Review - LAS to OAK.
Not the best photo, but it shows how much more room a Big Front Seat gives you.

Conclusion

I guess the synopsis of this Spirit Airlines Review is that flying on the airline isn’t horrible.  Is it the most comfortable experience?  It certainly is not, but I saved $300.  Had I been traveling with my family, then the savings would have been even more significant.  With that said, I think the Big Front Seat is a worthy upgrade depending on the cost.  While the cost for the upgrade varies based on demand and flight length, it is something to look into and brings you comfort above normal economy seats on other airlines.

I have flown Ryanair, Wizz Air, Easyjet, Air Asia, Jetstar and Nok Air and Spirit falls right in line with all of these other Ultra Low Cost Carriers.  It is a business model that upsets a lot of customers, but if you know how to play the game and are willing to sacrifice a little comfort, then Spirit can be rewarding in both getting you to your destination and giving you more money to spend when you get there!

More Photos:


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11 COMMENTS

    • Yeah and they push the credit card pretty hard. If you know what you are getting into and plan ahead the experience isn’t too bad. I would rather travel Spirit then not travel at all! After all it is about the destination and not necessarily how you got there!

  1. Hi Fran. When I last flew I paid $25 each way for extra leg room and I was glad as I had no elbow room. I am one who well remembers half empty planes when one might have three seats to oneself. NO MORE! WOULD that I could afford 1st class. I would fly all the time.

  2. I live in FtL where Spirit is based. I know people who work for them. Trash the airline all you want, but it is the MOST PROFITABLE AIRLINE in the Western Hemisphere. That its stock price has quadrupled in the last three years is proof of this alone. Is flying on them pleasurable? Not in the least. But is saving upwards of $200 on plane tickets pleasurable? Absolutely. I don’t mind sitting in a cramped seat for a 3 hour flight to BOS if I am saving $100 that I could spend on two fantastic seafood meals. As Shawn correctly states, to make it worthwhile, you have to PLAY THEIR GAME. Don’t pay for anything extra. If you can’t go without comfort and service and free drinks and snacks for a few hours, then you need to either change your priorities or get therapy.

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