Why the Big Front Seat is the Most Underrated Domestic Travel Option

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Big Front Seat plane art

What is the Big Front Seat & Why is it Underrated?

The Cadillac of domestic travel perks/options is the Southwest Companion pass.  There are probably 10 million posts about that perk scattered across the internet. But what I want to focus on is what I believe to be the most underrated domestic travel option.  That would be the Big Front Seat on Spirit Airlines or the BFS!  Many people overlook it as a legit option since it is well, you know, it is Spirit after all.

Why I think the Big Front Seat is Underrated

Spirit is currently trying to work their way out of being a terrible airline.  They used to embrace this aura so much so that they would give bonus miles for telling them why you hate them.  Think about that for a second, they really embraced “the suck”.  That is a tough hole to dig yourself out of but it appears that they have.

Since then they have come under new management and they have increased their on time stats quarter over quarter.  Spirit now ranks number 1 overall in domestic online arrivals. Not Delta, Alaska, Southwest, Jetblue…no no no it is Spirit who you want to fly if getting there on time is your number one priority.

They are still a no frills airline: charging for seats, bags, and some boarding passes.  But one of those seating options is the Big Front Seat and sometimes it comes dirt cheap.

Big Front Seat

All the Details on the Big Front Seat & My Recent Experiences

I have had a chance to fly Spirit’s Big Front Seat 3 times in the last few months.  And I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you.  Before we get into that I should probably go over what is a Big Front Seat.

The first two rows of Spirit aircraft normally have what are essentially first class seats.  They are similar in size to what you would find on Delta, American, or United’s domestic first class cabin.  This is the area where the Big Front Seats reside.  They are essentially a first class seat without the frills of first class flying but I’ll get into that more later.

Big Front Seat Pricing 

This is where the magic is.  If you find a great deal on Spirit you can fly in a big front seat for cheaper than other airlines are charging for Basic Economy.  On our recent trip to Orlando, the trip I did two weeks in a row, we took advantage of the Big Front Seat for one of the flights.

Big Front Seat son

By purchasing the tickets at the airport I was able to get them for $90 a person roundtrip, or $40 cheaper than they were online for each ticket.  We still had to select seats and the Big Front Seats were an additional $65 per person each way.  In case you are not great at math that would be an out of pocket cost of $220 roundtrip, per person, to fly in a quasi first class seat. For a similar Delta economy flight the price was hovering around $300 per person during that time. That is insane value!

This is not a unique experience either. On a recent trip to Denver I was able to get a big front seat both ways and still saved money versus booking an economy flight with any other airline.

What Do You Get When Flying BFS?

You get a bigger seat, duh! In all honesty that is about it.  You don’t get free drinks or snacks, you don’t get a private bathroom and you don’t get any special treatment.  I did get Zone 2 boarding but I don’t think that is normal when purchasing a Big Front Seat.  As I have said in the past boarding zones are not a big deal on Spirit Airlines.  Many people check bags on Spirit because it is cheaper than carrying on so there is always ample bin space.  This also makes the boarding and deplaning process a breeze!

There are some things you do get that you would never think about on other planes. You get a full blown back pocket on the seat in front of you, many Spirit planes simply give you bungee ropes to hold stuff.

And you also get a full tray table even though it is a fold out tray table versus the tiny one in economy.

Big Front Seat Tray Table

What Don’t You Get When Flying BFS

You miss out on pretty much everything you associate with first class flying, besides the seat of course.  There are no pre-departure drinks, you don’t even get free water!  Everything still costs extra, this is a no frills set up remember.  But you do get the bigger seat and I put comfort above all else.

There are a few downsides to the bigger seat though.  The BFS still do not recline like the rest of the seats on Spirit which is annoying but it is what it is.  This is something to consider if you are doing a red-eye flight or a longer flight.  And the back of the seats are not padded at all so when someone is messing around in their seat back pocket behind you you can feel it a little bit in your back.  It only lasts a few seconds while they are digging around but it is slightly annoying.

Big Front Seat pocket

My Final Thoughts

I would fly Spirit’s Big Front Seat over any other domestic economy product every time.  If they were the same price there isn’t really a debate in my mind.  And you can often get the Big Front Seat for less than standard economy on other airlines which makes it a no brainer.

So why isn’t this a bigger thing?  Well it is Spirit Airlines and they spent decades building a bad rep so people dismiss them right off the bat.  Their frequent flyer program is also a complete joke.  And they don’t offer any perks for status seekers etc.  So if you are looking for a domestic program to build loyalty with then Spirit probably isn’t your first, second or third choice.

However if you are going to pay cash for the flight and you are looking for the best deal then Spirit will most likely fit the bill. You may even be able to nab the Big Front Seat and ride in style while keeping those extra dollar bills in your pocket.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Mark, I have flown on Spirit Airlines a number of times only because my partner insists on getting the lowest airfare. And true, Spirit does off the lowest airfare. Unfortunately, I can tell you their seats in economy are horrible on my back meaning I have never been able to feel comfortable in their economy seats. My back feels something like a bulge that I am not able to lean back but more like sit up.

    • The economy seats are not the best but I have never had major issues with them but I have only taken sub 3 hour flights on Spirit. Have you ever tried the BFS John? Wondered if you thought that was any better or if you had the same issues?

  2. Mark – I think you’ve hit your head and now have a concussion and need to see a doctor right away! That or Spirit put something in the air conditioning on your flight and you’re now hallucinating. Either way, you need treatment right away:-)

    • I haven’t dug into the $9 fare club much personally but if you fly Spirit often enough I think it would work out in your favor. Often times if you are booking for a family of four online it ends up paying for itself after 1, maybe 2 trips.

      • would travel credit like penfed or boa premium rewards reimburse the fee for $9 club? if they do it would really make it work it.

  3. There’s a couple of other substantial disadvantages with Spirit. First off, there’s lots of cities they don’t fly to, including mine. I’m used to driving to larger hubs for award flights or better priced international flights, but driving three hours to the hub just to buy a ticket at a good price can be rough. The bigger factor for me is scale and lack of interline agreements. Spirit being comparatively small means that if my plane goes mechanical, I’m pretty much hosed, and no interline agreement means it’s Spirit or nothing. In short, if you’re exceedingly flexible, Spirit flies to your city, and price is your main concern, then they’re the way to go.

    • Yeah this was based off if you were looking at two pretty similar options. If Spirit doesn’t fly out of your airport then it is a non starter for sure.

      The interline agreements is something to consider for sure but their breakdowns/mechanical issues are happening less often than other carriers and I find them less willing to move me to another airline’s flight than they used to as well. So while it is a concern I do think it is overplayed some. I would be more concerned if the route wasn’t a frequent one like one flight a day etc.

      I have had a flight cancelled by AA and all they said was come back tomorrow and said it was weather when it was perfect weather at departure and destination airport. So it is gonna happen some times no matter who you fly. That is my take on it at least.

    • Yeah the fees are the same for seat selections and you can do them online. You will pay more for bags doing it this way which negates some, but not all of the savings. So this is best done for trips where you can fit everything in a backpack where you won’t need to pay for any luggage. That is when the real savings kick in.

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