A Spirit A319 taking off from LAX – Photo: Thomas Hart | FlickrCC
Often, people try to avoid the ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCC), but I have been wanting to try Spirit Airlines for quite a few years now.Â During a recent trip from Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX) with my girlfriend, I ended up having that chance… kind of.
There is quite a bit of competition between SEA and LAX. I hold most of my miles with Alaska Airlines and also have their credit card. That means I get extra miles when booking their tickets and I also get a free checked bag. When I compare prices, it is not just the sticker price, but also all the extras and the miles that factor into my decisions. Going down to LAX, Alaska was the obvious winner. But coming home, even with paying for a checked bag, two seat assignments, and loss of miles, Spirit was much cheaper (about $175 for both of us). To be honest, I was hoping that was the case, since I wanted to give them a shot (always been jealous of our JL doing the legit bare fare… for science).
I will say that getting to the final price on Spirit, to compare to other airlines, is not the easiest. There are so many different steps, a log-in, and up-sells before you finally get to the payment screen to see the total price. It was a pain. However, I cannot understand how someone could go through that entire process and not understand that they were being (or will be) charged more for the extras. Annoying, but also annoyingly clear.
This story was originally written by our good friend Chris Sloan and published on AirwaysMag.com. To help, be sure to read the story below and donate to the cause.
On Tuesday and Friday, because of the generosity of your donations to Operation: Puerto Rico Care-Lift and AirwaysAid 22,000 pounds of supplies were flown into Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (PR). This is the northwest corner of the island that is cut off from San Juan. The airport infrastructure is quite damaged and not open to commercial flights.
However, we were able to work with the miracle-working partners at Spirit Airlines and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico who made this special relief flight possible â€” the biggest relief flight into PRâ€™s second largest airport as of Friday. A Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 has since arrived on Saturday with even more aid. Lufthansa Technik is not only instrumental in handling some logistics for us, but amazingly was already operational again undertaking MRO work.
Flying a fully loaded 228 passenger stretch Airbus A321 is an expensive endeavor under normal conditions and this operation was anything but normal. The logistics and clearances Spirit and Operation Care-Lift faced were daunting. But, Spirit Airlines has shown their true colors with this second relief flight into Aguadilla alone, on top of others into St. Maarten and St. Thomas, USVI.
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 wearing the Bare Fare livery at TPA – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
I paid a mere $16.11 for a one-way Spirit Airlines Bare Fare flight from Kansas City to Dallas. Crazy, right? It gets crazierâ€¦ $14.24 of that ticket went to the “Government’s Cut,” (Spirit’s words, not mine) that is,Â various government-imposed fees and taxes. Of the remainder, a single penny went towards the base fare, with the final $1.86 going to what Spirit refers to asÂ “Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations.” Depending on where you sit on the regulatory fence, the actual revenue fromÂ my Bare FareÂ was either a penny or $1.87.
Spirit Airlines Bare Fare cost structure breakdown – Image: Spirit.com
Either way, the airline was bound to make money off ofÂ me from their various fees, right? After all, that’s what Spirit is known for: evil fees. But, what if I went totally bare and instead just paid only for “ass plus gas” (again, Spirit’s words, not mine). Do people actually do that? I did… for science.
I am a big fan of Spirit Airlines. They offer some of the lowest fares and push to promote their a-la-carte-style pricing. Although it seems that many customers see them as the enemy and “extorting” people out of their money, I see them as a viable, cheap option to get from point A to point B. Are they going to be like riding in business class on a Qatar A380? No… not even close. But that is not what they are about, nor should that be the expectation flying them.
Last week, I posted a letter from a reader complaining about his experience with Spirit and my hope was that people would see him as ridiculous and defend the airline. ManyÂ did, but some I saw (via the story and social media) agreed with the passenger. That surprisedÂ me.
I reached out to Paul Berry, who is Spirit’s director of communications, advertising, and brand to see what he thought. Although I was just looking for a few lines, I was very impressed with how seriously he took this complaint; he gave a very thorough reply. Below, you can see how he breaks down each topic and gives a detailed description on how Spirit operates.