Beat Spirit At Their Own Game By Booking At The Airport: Chicago-Los Angeles For $50 Round-Trip, Cleveland-Los Angeles For $63 Round-Trip, Etc

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Most people probably never take a look at a fare breakdown, but Spirit’s is rather interesting.

After selecting your flights click on “your booking:”


Then click on more info and you’ll see a breakdown like this for a round-trip Chicago-Los Angeles round-trip:



Notice that the actual fare is just $16.74. $3.72 is added as “Unintended consequences of DOT Regulations.”  That’s the amount Spirit claims it costs them to offer refunds for 24 hours from the time of purchase. I’m not sure what Spirit gains by splitting that fee off except to show their anger at the DOT.

Then there’s a $35.98 fee for “passenger usage fee”. Spirit splits this fee off of the price of the flight to avoid paying the 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare. The real airfare in this case is $16.74+$3.72=$20.46.  7.5% of that makes up the $1.54 federal excise tax. Then of course there’s the $11.20 9/11 security theater fee, the $8 segment fee, and a $9 facility fee.

Note that the $35.98 passenger usage fee doesn’t go to the government.

It’s a fee for using or your phone to book your tickets. In order for Spirit to avoid paying the excise tax on it though they need to make it possible to avoid the fee.

You can do that by buying your Spirit tickets in the airport.

If you go to the airport now and stop by the Spirit counter you’ll be able to purchase the itinerary about for $50.20 round-trip.

Same goes for Cleveland-Los Angeles:




A $99 round-trip would be $63.02 when purchased at the airport.

That might not be worth it for 1 person, but if you’re with a family or have multiple itineraries to book the savings can quickly add up.

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48 Comments On "Beat Spirit At Their Own Game By Booking At The Airport: Chicago-Los Angeles For $50 Round-Trip, Cleveland-Los Angeles For $63 Round-Trip, Etc"

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airlines have to pay taxes on their own fares?


Well they collect it from you and pass it along, but this allows them to have cheaper fares.


I’ve heard about this before and would consider trying it if I ever fly Spirit again. Do you just go to Spirit Check-in agent? Or is there some type of ticket office/desk in the airport that you have to go to?


Just go to any checkin agent.

When they price it there will be no passenger usage fee.


Does the passenger have to go to the airport, or can I buy a ticket for someone else there?


You can buy a ticket for anyone.


Does it need to be same day flying or can I book a ticket for the future as well?


You can only buy it for flights that day or for a flight a while from now?


Would this work for any other airlines if buying at the airport?


Do this all the time. You can purchase a ticket for anyone. They are not required to be present.


You can purchase any ticket that is being sold on

I’m not aware of any other airlines offering a discount like this.


I have already done this a couple of times since Spirit came to Cleveland, and those savings are real, especially when booking more than one person at a time.
However, one thing to consider that may mitigate the savings: Since Spirit doesn’t allow a free carry-on, most of the time one would need to pay for a checked bag. Spirit has tiered pricing for this as well, with the cheapest price being when you pay at the time of booking. However, when booking at the airport, you can’t get this price, since the system prices it out at the expensive airport check-in rate- since you’re at the airport!- even though you’re paying for a future flight and not checking the bag right then. So, this would mean paying $10 a bag extra for the next tier up, which is paying for the bag online before check-in opens, and this $10 could mitigate the airport savings somewhat. One time I was able to call and say there was no way to get the cheap bag at time of booking, and they gave me the price later, but the other- no dice. Anyone have any experience with this or ideas to still get the cheap bag price?


Good point, though the difference between buying a checked bag at the time of purchase is $30 vs $35 before online checkin.

chana k

Just a note that the ‘passenger usage fee’ is always $35.98 per ticket. It doesn’t fluctuate with the route or ticket price.


@chana k:
True, although it’s important to remember that, as with everything else with Spirit, it is priced based on one-ways. So for a one-way trip, per person, the fare is $17.99.


Plus on the sample you show you’ll earn 3,490 miles which is enough for a free flight if you have the credit card.

oy vey

the day dan flies spirit ….. until then why would you post about such a trashy airline


Looks like its only $5 more,so I guess you mean $10 more on a RT.


They will out smart us. Give it time and they will add a fee for buying your tickets at the airport, they’ll call it something else and they won’t pay the tax cause they’ll tell the government that it can be avoided if you book on Their website.


The only problem with this is that it would actually require flying on Spirit 😕

Not sure if the “savings” would be worth it for that experience.


They write this clearly on their website on the bottom of the page when you book. “Lower fares generally available at the airport.”


@Username: @Dan:
Yes, I meant $10 round-trip. Sorry for the confusion. 🙂
It still means you’re saving $26 round-trip going to the airport, and could still be worth it depending on how out of the way the airport is and how many people you are booking. I just thought the extra $10 should be factored in, I know I was disappointed the first time I did it to discover I couldn’t get the lowest bag rate.


LOL, yes they obviously have to disclose it somewhere, but it’s in rather small print and the savings is not advertised or marketed by them in the slightest. For obvious reasons…


It’s a very good point.

But if you were able to get them honor the $30 once it can probably be done again with some HUCA.

Either way, for one passenger it won’t be worth it, but for multiples it probably will be.


LOL, yes they obviously have to disclose it somewhere, but it’s in rather small print and the savings is not advertised or marketed by them in the slightest. For obvious reasons…


I wouldnt fly with spirit if they paid me


@Shloimy: Take it easy, for the right price you fly Spirit.


@Shloimy: I flew them LGA to FLL and it was fine.


You must be hyperbolic. That would be the ultimate “mileage run” if they paid you to fly!


very old info


Lga to San Diego anyone?


@mike: better late then never !


The problem with spirit is you need to know HOW to fly them. I live in a place where spirit is the only direct flight to NY or Florida which is my usual route. I buy at the airport and I’m a club member and for a family it’s huge savings. The only problem I see with them is if there is a cancellation or delay they are not able to put you on other airlines you are on your own till next flight is available. For all the money I saved over the years it’s well worth the few times I had trouble . Learn how to fly them and enjoy the savings!


@Dan, thanks for the reminder. We ave a family wedding and I went to the airport . I booked 28 one way tickets for all the cousins, aunts and uncles and saved $500 over booking on-line. (All that during a sale so the tickets themselves were $16 each. Wow!) Thanks, Dan.


dan would you say spirit is a safe airline to fly? booked tickets and booked the baby a ticket ny-chicago. i just care about getting there safely, not the money anymore as we already booked. i would appreciate your input as there are tons of things people are saying and i want to fly safely. thanks!


Spirit is as safe as any airline. They follow the same rules as all other US carriers Planes are new and crews are older. Once you are in the metal tube, they all look the same, except Spirit seats don’t recline. That is fine for anything around 2 hours. You have no problem walking in board with a free back pack. I have never paid for overhead storage but they really don’t seem check. You should pay for the chcked have on line before you get to the airport. Keep a check on the bag weight and you will be fine. Our family flies Spirit or Frontier often . Occasionally we are in United or American. Guess what? You pAy for bags, good seats, food, etc. As mentioned before, if there are cancelations you may have issues getting to your destination. But you may have issues on any airline. I did have an issue last year with Spirit and they could not get us home for 3 or 4 days. They immediately refunded the price of the ticket (yes a long wait on the phone) and we re booked on Southwest. Check around and compare fares and beware of add ons. Know the rules and it may work for you. I have a 2 day Florida trip planned for $50! I can handle a lot of agrivation for that price!


Spirit is now on to this scheme. They only sell the tickets at the airport between 8-430. In addition, if there is anyone waiting to board they take them first (separate line). I waited over 30 min and nobody from my line got served because people kept checking in. They have made it nearly impossible to buy a ticket at the airport. I talked with one guy there who waited 2 hrs one day and then they closed at 4:30 and he had to come back the next day. Best bet is to try to get there at least 3 hrs before any scheduled departures. This assumes no departures are delayed, which they always are on Spirit. Good luck!


@NK666: what airport? is this all airports or just ones without late night flights?


Booked 2 tix yesterday a Sunday around 5PM at Boston Logan for 1 way to Myrtle Beach in the fall, saved $18, each tix, nobody in line and person could not have been nicer.


This was at Atlantic City. I tried on 4 different occasions to buy a ticket and either they were checking too many people in or the line to buy a ticket was out the door. I gave up and payed the extra $ online.


Has anyone taken a flight out of Dallas to Atlanta? If so how was the lines,trip airport fares etc,

Bill Mc

I fly weekly same day RT’s between SAN and LAS during football season. No bags. I intend to go to the airport to purchase these trips, as it appears I’ll save $36 on each RT that would otherwise cost $108. I always buy Big Front Seats, but would prefer to do so closer in time to my actual flights, as I may elect to not take Spirit on one or more segments once they get closer.

Two questions: can I book these cost savings trips in person at the airport without purchasing seats, then later add the seats online?

Also, will Spirit honor my $9 Fare Club fares when purchased at the airport?

Bob S.

@Bill Mc:

An earlier comment by “Anonymous indicated that he got a great price by buying tix at airport AND being a member of the Club. (I assume he means the $9 Club.

I have Spirit Miles through their credit card, and I was considering re-joining the $9 Club for a Feb 2017 RT flight from ACY to MCO. So I inquired by email to Spirit, and got a prompt, courteous reply:


I hope this helps you. I just have to do the math for me and my wife, since I have enough Spirit Miles to use for one person, one-way.

Best Regards,

Spirit Support>>>


@Bob S.:

Bob, could you summarize the reply as it failed to post. Thanks

Bob S.


Not sure why it didn’t post. I copy and pasted (which I’m doing again) but I don’t think that would cause it. At any rate, here’s the reply:

Jen (Spirit Airlines Support)

Jun 5, 1:41 PM EDT

Hi Robert,

Thank you for entrusting Spirit with your travel needs.

Lower fares are generally available at the airport. When you book a reservation at the airport, you will not be charged for the Passenger Usage Charge. Passenger Usage Charge are applied if a customer book their reservation over the phone or online.

Please know that mileage booking can only be done online. If you want to take advantage of the $9 Fare Club benefits, you must book your reservation online.

I hope you find this information helpful.

If there’s anything else you need just let me know, I’m here to help!

Best Regards,

Spirit Support

Bill Mc

OK, I went to the airport to purchase several RT’s of SAN-LAS-SAN. The agent confirmed that $9 Fare Club fares were not available. HOWEVER, one of the trips did feature extra cheap $9 F.C. fares in both directions costing $46 online. At the airport this trip cost just $28!! All my remaining itineraries would have been $78 online and wound up just $50 at the airport. Not sure how they turned out at that number, but all were consistent.

One valuable tip from the agent (who couldn’t have been nicer). He said I should pay for each RT separately rather than rack them all up and pay once at the end. He said if, for example, I failed to show on any of the trips (a distinct possibility) then that could cancel all the later ones.

I always buy Big Front Seats, but did not do so when I booked these. In case my plans change between now and my departures (which are 3 months from now), I’d lose the seat charges. Might as well wait until the trips are closer to book the seats. Bags are not an issue for me as I never take bags on these short over and back trips to Vegas.


@NK666: now I’m ACY it’s 8-3! And they have such an attitude! I’ve been doing the MYR trip since 2008.


I did it today in AC Airport. The woman was awesome so pleasant and got me great rates!! It cost me $15 each way from AC to Tampa. 30 round trip per person! So booked two round trip tickets to go visit my folks in Jan. I had a good experience and this was at like 4:30pm on a Wednesday. I was actually there to pick my parents up!! Hope this helps