I’m no fan of ultra low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit. I don’t like their nickel and diming to reserve a seat or get a drink of water. I don’t like their lack of legroom, their lack of seat recline, their lack of a carry-on allowance, or their lack of useful miles. I don’t like that they don’t participate in Priceline’s “next day at 11:29pm” refund policy. I don’t like their 40 pound checked bag allowance even after you pay for a bag. I don’t like their lack of onboard WiFi. I don’t like that they don’t have partner airlines to accommodate you when things go wrong. I don’t like that they don’t have credit cards that waive bag fees. And I don’t like buses that are used in place of flights.
But I get that it works for some people, especially those that travel light and don’t care where they sit. In fact as long as there are no flight delays or cancellations, it probably works fine for most people.
I’ve written about the “hack” before, but I noticed that Spirit has actually increased their passenger usage fee to $19.99 each way or $39.98 round-trip. That’s up from $35.98 when I last wrote about this fee.
Spirit splits this fee off of the price of the flight to avoid paying the 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare. It’s a fee for using Spirit.com 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 and stop by the Spirit counter you’ll now save $39.98 per round-trip ticket.
For example you can buy a round-trip ticket nonstop between Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, or Pittsburgh and Los Angeles for $100.58 online (Sample valid dates February 20, 21, 27. 28, March 6, 7). Go to any airport with a Spirit checking counter and they will sell you this flight for $60.60:
Or you can buy a round-trip ticket from LaGuardia or Newark to Los Angeles for $117.98 online (Sample valid dates February 20, 21, 27. 28, March 6, 7). Go to any airport with a Spirit checking counter and they will sell you this flight for $78:
Spirit is still sneaky though. If you do plan on bringing baggage, you won’t be able to save the same amount as you can by buying it during the booking process. On the plus side though, you can wait until online checkin to see exactly how many bags you’ll actually need for the flight. But you can always beat them by bringing a free carry-on bag like this one. You can probably even ship your luggage for less than that they charge for baggage!
Have you bought Spirit tickets at the airport? Share your experience in the comments!