Here’s How To Beat Frontier, Spirit, And Allegiant At Their Own Game; Fly Between NYC And South Florida For Under $15 Each Way!

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I’m not a big fan of ultra low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit. In this post I wrote why even United’s harsh basic economy is a much better value than flying on ultra low cost carriers.

But if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest way to fly and don’t mind wearing all of your clothes in layers, then it can be hard to beat ultra low cost carrier pricing.

I’ve written about this “hack” to save even more with ultra low cost carrier several times previously, but it’s worth mentioning again as it’s more lucrative than ever.

Ultra low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit use a clever loophole to avoid paying 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare. They charge an online and phone booking fee, which isn’t subject to that tax.

A fee that is mandatory is considered part of the fare and is subject to the 7.5% tax, so they waive the fee if you book tickets at the airport counter.

You can book a ticket for any date and from any airport at any airport counter. The flight doesn’t need to involve the airport where you buy the ticket.

For example, a Frontier ticket from Newark to Miami is on sale for $38.30:

 

But if you click on the fare breakdown that is hidden in your cart, you’ll see that the actual fare is only $2.79 plus $35.51 in taxes and fees. The CIC or Carrier Interface Fee of $21 is bogus. It’s just an online booking fee. You can avoid paying that fee by buying the ticket at an airport counter, which will drop your ticket price from $38.30 each way to just $17.30 each way!

 

 

Or for example, a Spirit ticket from LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale is on sale for $37.30:

 

Spirit hides the breakdown until the final booking page, but you can see that the actual fare is only $0.01 plus $37.29 plus taxes and fees. The PUC or Passenger Usage Charge of $22.99 is bogus. It’s just an online booking fee. You can avoid paying that fee by buying the ticket at an airport counter, which will drop your ticket price from $37.30 each way to just $14.31 each way!

 

Or for example, an Allegiant Air ticket from Newark to Deston, FL is on sale for $57:

 

If you click on taxes and fees though you’ll see that the actual fare is only $22.98 plus $34.02 plus taxes and fees. The CUC or Carrier Usage Charge of $18 is bogus. It’s just an online booking fee. You can avoid paying that fee by buying the ticket at an airport counter, which will drop your ticket price from $57 each way to just $39 each way!

 

The biggest savings here is with Spirit, where you’ll save $45.98 on a round-trip. 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!

There is a caveat of course. The airlines have learned to discourage the practice of buying tickets at the airport by having baggage discounts that are only available when you book online. If you’re checking bags for every passenger, that may wipe out some of the savings.

Frontier charges an extra $5 for the 1st checked bag and $6 for a carry-on bag that is purchased after the time of booking:

 

Spirit charges an extra $10 for a checked bag or carry-on bag that is purchased after the time of booking:

 

Allegiant charges an extra $15 for a checked bag or $25 for a carry-on bag that is purchased after the time of booking:

 

Another caveat is that this won’t work with online promo codes, $9 fare club, or discount den fares.

Want to find the cheap fares mentioned in this post?

Spirit: LaGuardia to Fort Lauderdale $37.30 ($14.31 at an airport counter) dates:
December 10
January 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29
February 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 24, 25, 26, 27
March 2, 3, 4

Spirit: Fort Lauderdale to LaGuardia $37 ($14.31 at an airport counter) dates:
November 28
December 11, 12, 18, 19
January 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 27
March 2, 3, 4

Frontier: Newark to Miami $38 ($17.30 at an airport counter) dates:
December 9, 10, 11
January 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29
February 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12

Frontier: Miami to Newark $37 ($17.30 at an airport counter) dates:
December 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19
January 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31
February 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12

Frontier: LaGuardia to Miami $37 ($17.30 at an airport counter) dates:
December 10
January 7, 11, 13, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28
February 2, 10

Frontier: Miami to LaGuardia $37 ($17.30 at an airport counter) dates:
December 19
January 16, 18, 25, 31

Have you purchased ultra low cost carrier tickets at the airport? Share your experience in the comments!


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104 Comments On "Here’s How To Beat Frontier, Spirit, And Allegiant At Their Own Game; Fly Between NYC And South Florida For Under $15 Each Way!"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Denada

Do we have to worry about them being sold out by the time we actually go to the counter

YAAKOV

I schlepped all the way to Newark from monsey and they refused to remove the fees for me

A Sooper

I would’ve pulled out my phone and asked them to repeat themselves. As a side point, I’ve done it iin Newark and they gave me attitude but eventually did it for me.

Moshe

If the ticket is $37 today how can you be certain it will be the same rate the day of at the airport counter?

Mendy

Moshe,
Dan is speaking of going to the airport now to purchase your ticket, not waiting to purchase till the day of the flight.

Moshe

Can I just stop by at any airport let’s say EWR and book the ticket by the desk for a month later? Or does this have to be the day of the flight?

Googly

Can you buy future dated tickets at the counter?

dovid goldberg

Yes you can. You can to jfk and book a ticket from ewr for in a month, does not have to be same airport either.

Yehuda

Yes. I’m flying in December from Ft Lauderdale to lax for $67 round trip. Booked at the airport.

Chaim

How does this work?
I find the flight on line and don’t book it?
It may be a different price when I get to the counter or it may be sold out?

J

What happened to #friendsdontletfriendsflyspirit?

E

Friends don’t let friends fly Jetblue Basic Economy for more than what flying Spirit’s Big Front Seat + a checked bag would cost.

Sara L

so, what about say any other airline? do they also have a bogus fee for online ticket purchases?

LA

I’ve done it a bunch of times. Sometimes though, you wait on line at the checkin counter for a long time, so it might be a good idea to check when their last flight leaves for the day from your specific airport, and try to come around 45 minutes or so before that departure time. I’ve done this many times with Spirit.

Yoely

Tried Frontier yesterday at PHL and today at Miami prices were same or even higher

Shaya

Which airports in the tristate area does spirit have counters? Wherever they fly out of?

Bd

Do they ever insist you paying to fees at the counter or it’s a given that that the price at the airport?

SAN flyer

Yes. Done it at SAN a few times at Spirit.
Always need to think about convenience. For living here it’s pretty easy in and out.
Try not to go when its flight time and people are checking in, otherwise will wait long time

Deisy

do u have to go to the departure airport or can I go to, let’s say Newark airport and try to buy a flight that leaves from LaGuardia?

Mary

by any airport – you do mean any airport that is a carrier for one of the budget airlines – like an allegiant airport for booking on allegiant. You would have to go to the appropriate airline counter – correct?

Paron

I fly from New York to fll for $28 roundtrip every year doing this

Beni J

Is this strictly for NYC-FL. How does it work for NYC-Cancun?

stricks

your expiration doesnt discuss frontier points are they of any value?

Living in a Bomb Cyclone in #nmi

Can’t you book your tickets at the counter and go home and add the baggage at prepay prices? I think Allegiant offers this . . .

shmaltz

Been doing this for years. Rates at the airport are usually not the same as what you will get online. True that you can get those specific taxes off, however the base rate may be higher. That being said, I have managed to get a bunch of ~$30 RT tickets over the years.

constructive

“Ultra low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit use a clever loophole to avoid paying 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare. They charge an online and phone booking fee, which isn’t subject to that tax.
A fee that is mandatory is considered part of the fare and is subject to the 7.5% tax, so they waive the fee if you book tickets at the airport counter.”
sir, not one idea attempted to be expressed in this paragraph makes ONE stitch of sense. it would do us good if you explain some of your posts better.

EB

Uh… seems clear to me.
Since they waive it at the airport counter, it is not a mandatory fee and therefore not subject to the tax, saving the airlines money.
Feel free to request any further clarification.

Shilo

Wow now here’s an example of “bishvili nivruh h’oilum”…

Al

Sir, your reading comprehension makes not one stitch of sense, this is extremely clear to understand. Perhaps you should save your money on traveling and get a reading comprehension course instead?? It would do you good if you understood the posts better.

AYC

So it’s basically a way to save $22.99 per segment?

David

Booked spirit at the airport about 3 weeks ago. I saved the $22 PUC that is only charged online, but was charged a new roughly $10 Fuel Surcharge which is now apparently only charged at the airport while waived for online purchases.

John

This exact thing happened to me. They removed the $22 and added a $10 fuel surcharge at the airport. It was still cheaper than online but I’m fairly certain what they’re doing is illegal. My ticket was super cheap. I think it was $30 online. Based on what I read online it seems like they do this on the very cheap tickets. This was about a month ago and I didn’t pursue the matter but there’s no way what they’re doing is legal.

chaz

is filing a dot complaint a feel good thingamagig or does it actually accomplish something? guru?

pointer

thingamajig’s a great singer.

100/24

A few weeks ago United didn’t scan my boarding pass properly on my departing flight and cancelled my return flight because they thought I never boarded. I complained to United via email and they did nothing for me. Within two weeks of filing a complaint with the DOT I got a call from United’s Corporate Office offering compensation. Filing a complaint takes all of 5 minutes.

Andy

Dan, you should mention that there are certain fares only available on their website. $9 fare club on Spirit and Discount Den on Frontier are examples. Also any fare that uses a promo code can only be booked online. So sometimes the best deal is still online.

largo

@dan
is there somewhere a reference on their website that at the airport the fee is waved ?
how do i prove it to the agent and what point of reference would i show if i file a DOT complain?

Stephen

In my experience doing this once already the price of the ticket is the same price as their app which I’ve never seen lower than $56 even though if you go to their website online it is cheaper. The fares that are $56 on their app may be $37 or $44 online on their website. You may go to airport expecting to pay less but for example $44 will only be $33 ($56 app fare minus online passenger usage of $23).

Emes

Do any of these fly from Cleveland?

Leib

Can you request a refund after you buy tickets online? And how do you prove it’s a bogus fee. They might tell me a whole story its part of the FAA rules

Kris

Dan, are you saying this is a way to save money on bus fares?

pointer

Why is this hack more lucrative than ever?

Yo

Same deals with Jet blue?

Eli

So let me get this straight. I have the time to drive to the airport, I got the time to wait at the counter line, and got the time to explain to the unwilling agent exactly my request, oh.. plus the time to almost finish the booking online and saving the screenshots, and the time to file a DoT claim in case the unwilling agent defeats the exhausted me. So, being blessed with so much time and patience.. all to save the roughly $50..
WHY DO I NEED THE FLORIDA VACATION FOR????

Yosef

Well you seem to have time to write this inane comment…

Eli

Well you had money to buy an apple, why didn’t you buy the Empire State Building instead?

EB

If youre flying with 8 kids it will be more than 50 bucks

Eli

Yep in that case it makes sense.

LG

Most of the discussion here is about flights that are already pretty cheap but you can save another 20-30 dollars.
How about a flight from one of these cheap airlines that’s a few hundred dollars, will you also be saving 20-30 dollars or will you be saving more like 50-60 percent?

Moshe

I used to do this for our Yeshiva.
They would send me to the airport and buy tickets for all 130 bochurim from Chicago to NY and we would save about $4300 on the tickets, it did take like 2 hours (up to 8 per reservation) in the airport but totally worth it.

E

Dan, with Spirit’s $9 Fare Club— can one book a “mock ticket”, purchase the $19.99 Trial $9 fare club membership, book your intended itinerary benefiting on the $9 club trial membership, and cancel the “mock ticket” within $24 hours? (And cancel the $9 trial membership within 60 days).

Simcha

This hack is not so rosy as it may sound. The reason I say so is, because I once went down to LGA to try this hack on frontier airlines.
1) The hassle of getting through traffic, misleading airport signs, not being able to find parking etc was a disaster. Why you ask?
2) Because, the ticket counter is not always open, it’s only open from 2.5 hours before a scheduled flight in the airport your going to, and the counter closes half hour before the flight. (It’s a pretty tight window) Trying to catch the counter sales rep was a mess!
3) You can’t get ANY discounts or coupons or DiscountDen (frontiers membership program) by the counter, these discounts are only available online. That means when you see online a sale, 40% off etc, they do not honer that in the airport. If you have a deal for Kids fly free or Freinds fly free, can’t get that in the airport.

My point is, there may be some instances where it may be worth the hassle, just know before you what your getting into.

dave

Am I missing something? the customer pays the 7.5 % fee not the airline so they are not saving anything. The federal tax fee is part of the ticket cost

dave

who pays this tax? the airline or customer? is it part of the fare fax breakdown?

shdjdjd

frontier has been known to have agents refuse to book tickets. do a google search.

spirit, i’ve done many times without problems and once they assigned seats for free because kids, although future times they didn’t

you do get screwed on luggage though and don’t forget the short term parking fees ….h

chaz

even though ulcc cattle class is not for me. i do appreciate a good post.
thank you Guru and good Shabbos

Toasted

Frontier has ttn to fll many dates in the next few weeks for 18.36 $prehack, with another $4 in CIC charges. Actual airfare is only 2 Cents!

g

can i call the air port and book in advance

E

If you call you’ll pay the passenger usage fee plus the fee for ordering tickets with a representative on the phone- probably the most expensive option of booking

Sarah

What about Ryanair and other low cost European airlines?

G Man

Does this also work for bigger carriers like delta, American, JetBlue…

esther12

there is no way to get the discount at the airport if i want to book using my UR points, right?

ben

Is This deal still active? Can I get tickets for November or only starting in December?

Mo

@dan Is any part of this ticket bogus that I can avoid if I pay at the airport?

Included in the total price:
Base Fare:$44.00
US Security Fee – United States:$5.60
Country Name – Israel:$27.26
JD3:$38.50
Aviation Safety and Security Fee – Spain:$1.40
QV3:$6.20
US Intl Transportation Tax – United States:$37.20
US Aphis User Fee – United States:$3.96
Passenger Facility Fee – United States:$4.50
Immigration User Fee:$7.00
US Customs User Fee – United States:$5.89
Airline imposed Fuel & Security Fee:$372.00
Buy Now Rebate:$-10.00
Total per person:$543.51

MK

I purchased Spirit tickets recently at the CLE counter. Spirit replaced the “passenger usage charge” (online fee) with “regulatory compliance charge” and “fuel charge”. These do not appear on the online listing of fees. I wrote to Spirit and they said this is standard for buying at the counter.

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