Spirit Airline Airbus A320

Spirit Airline Airbus A320

Spirit Airlines has been in the news a lot recently for their new carry-on fees. Where has it gotten them? Well a ton of free publicity, people complaining …oh and 50% rise in bookings.

It seems that even though there was a lot of  “negative” publicity on the new fees, passengers are buying more tickets. Is this because they are feeling Spirit must have really low fares or is it just coincidence?

Now that the carry-on fees buzz is dying down, it is time to move on to the next “crazy” thing: “pre-reclined” seats. Now this gimmick sounds like you would get on the plane and the seats are already partially reclined. However, it really means your seat will be upright and will not be able to recline at all.

Spirit have put the new seats in two new Airbus A320’s servicing the Fort Lauderdale-Washington, DC, route and on flights between Fort Lauderdale and New York’s LaGuardia airport. Two more A320’s will join the fleet this summer, and both will feature the “pre-reclined” seat design, Misty Pinson, with Spirit Airlines told the Orlando Sentinel.

So why is Spirit doing this? To fit in more seats, increasing passenger load and lowering prices. Let me guess how this will work out though:

Step #1: The media and passengers will complain how horrid this is and how they will never fly.

Step #2: Spirit will get free publicity (I know, I am guilty of this right now) about the story, making it stick in people’s minds that the airline provides low-frills, but also low prices (doesn’t always mean it is true).

Step #3: When booking flights, passengers see maybe Spirit’s airfares are very low and decide to fly on them, not caring about the low-frills.

Step #4: Passengers will fly on the airline, then complain that flying is not the way it used to be, they wish they had more room, food and no fees. However, they will continue to purchase the cheapest tickets possible.

Step #5: If Spirit makes more profit off this model, other airlines will follow. Passengers will blame the airlines, but really it is from passenger demand.

Spirit is not the first airline to provide no-recline seats. Allegiant Airlines has seats that don’t recline in 34 of 47 of their aircraft with little complaint. However, they also give 30″ pitch (room between seats), where Spirit will only be giving 28″ pitch. Personally I never recline my seats when I fly anyhow. I think it is quite rude to the people behind me and I hate it when people recline in front of me. I think I might be in the minority on that one though.

Is Spirit Airlines become the US version of Ryanair? That is a good question and I think you might see a blog in the near future on that concept…stay tuned.

UPDATE: I got wondering what other airline’s seat pitches look like and wrote up what I found. Also most people think of low budget airlines are the ones installing non-recling seats, but Dan Webb, with the blog Things in the Sky, reminded me that AirFrance is also using seats that won’t recline (but they still have a 32″ pitch).

Image: andre5003

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

Comparing Airline Seat Pitches – Who has the worst/best?

You could fill in Spirit Airlines with Ryanair and no one would know

They’ve passed up an opportunity to charge a fee for reclining seats! I don’t necessarily have a problem with no recline (I rarely do), but 28″ pitch? Holy bruised patellas, Batman! Even their 319s and 321s have 30″

I have been referring to Spirit Airline as RyanAmerica for a while … they are basing their business model on Ryanair in many way. Their carry-on bag fee means the Student has exceeded the Master. When it comes to non-reclining seats, Spirit is behind Ryanair. Wait fir Spirit Airlines to remove the window shades …


Spirit are almost unknown. The free publicity when you’re unknown is a big deal. However, it becomes less useful over time. Heaps of people around the world have tried cheapie carriers (Ryanair, Tiger, etc) and then vowed never to travel on them again, whether due to unreasonable rules, broken planes, big delays, excessive fees, etc.

The real question is this: Once passengers have tried Spirit once, will they ever use them again?

no, not if their proposed baggage fee hikes pass. on one hand, i agree with the reason behind it – efficiency and faster turn over time. but at what costs? at not allowing carry ons?

I flew from LGA to Ft. Lauderdale in this miserable Airbus 320 with 28″ seat pitch. The bar supporting the magazine rack in the seat back in front to me was painfully pressing into my knees. I was horribly uncomfortable during the entire flight. I am 5’11” and 190 lbs. I will never fly Spirit Air again no matter what prices they offer.

ale alvarez

um Barry that was the A319, and no please don’t fly Spirit again, it’s obliviously not for you. Spirit does not pretend to cater to all, want more, pay more. Personally I do think that the new seats on the A320 not the 19 or 21s have more leg room. I would know. Thank you.

How about their charging $3.50 for a bottle of water! Insult to injury. Worse than a Broadway theater! Pay big bucks, no seat room. Miserable experience. My fare was not cheap. Spirit should go out of business. I tell everyone about Spirit. Word of mouth spreads. Only the ignorant or desperate will fly Spirit and will suffer humiliation.

Just flew on Spirit on one of their “no-recline” A320’s. It was the most cramped and miserable flight I’ve been on in my many years of flying. You pay for everything, and the money you think you are saving is gobble up in “fees” for everything they can think of. Not one leg of the flight was on time – and we spent about 9 hours in airports both ways due to delays. I’ve also never witnessed a more uncoordinated and time wasting boarding and de-planing system than they engage in. Do yourself a favor and fly Southwest Airlines. you’ll have a more enjoyable flight – and their Boeing 737’s have a WAY better safety record than A320’s do.


I never recline my seat either, just because I feel like an inconsiderate brat whenever I do, especially since that’s what I think about anyone who does that in the row in front of me haha

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