“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
First off, I want to be clear. This is an unsolicited post. It's just my opinion after over 15 flights with Spirit Airlines this year. We've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of flying with Spirit, and we love it.
Sometimes, when we travel with Spirit, we truly don't know much at all about where we're going before we book tickets. Jason and I pretty much go wherever we can afford to put our feet for whatever length of time makes that journey most affordable. And Spirit makes all of it possible. They're our "man behind the curtain" if you will.
This trip, like most of the rest of them since becoming travelers, has been made possible through the deep discounts offered by Spirit Airlines. If you have an adventurous soul and are willing to mix some adventure into your flight in exchange for more destinations under your belt, Spirit is your airline. At least for relatively local flights. You can get as far away as Colombia, but after that, you'll have to deal with regularly priced airlines.
We signed up for the $9 Fare Club. It's worth it to us. We get emails for deals like this one, which was 99% off on airfare. In fact, as I'm writing today, I've just seen another 99% off deal from Spirit. Sadly, it doesn't work with our schedules at all, so we're going to have to let this one pass us by. But for our tickets to the Virgin Islands, we paid about $60 per person each way to and from St. Thomas, and all but about $5 of it was taxes and fees (the 1% we agreed to in the 99% off deal).
The alternative to Spirit travel comes in the form of those who seek passive entertainment. They expect exciting things to wander into them, rather than observing themselves as the masters of their destinies. We saw this picture on the ferry between St. John and St. Thomas and thought it perfectly summed up the experience of tourism. This way, you can sit on your beach chair and let things come to you. But as a traveler, you go out, on foot, or whatever transit presents itself, in search of things. You ask people about their favorite excursions, you think outside the box. You fly Spirit to save money and thus, you travel more often. We aim to be travelers. There's nothing wrong with a touristy trip now and again, but it gets dull, I think, if it's all that you do. Traveling is about siezing the world and seeing it fresh each time you take hold of it. Our advice: Be a traveler. You might come up with some gratifying finds through an app, but you'll never really experience anyplace that way. You'll find it in the people, the quiet places, the spots you didn't know you meant to find.
We had a great experience in the airport on St. Thomas waiting to return home. We sat in the rather dank room that was the gate for the Spirit flight that day and we were, of course, surrounded by other people who'd also taken advantage of the 99% off deal. We talked about all of the times that Spirit had underpromised and overdelivered for each of us. For Jason and I, we had issues once because their site kept dying as we tried to book tickets. So, we ended up booking with another airline (and we were fairly sad about it). We kept looking through our itineraries and none of the purchases had gone through, but when the week of travel came, we got four emails confirming my place on a plane. We couldn't call Spirit because their phones were down, so I sent an email, explained everything, and was promptly helped. Despite Spirit having a strict no-cancellation policy, they refunded all of my money and were extremely kind about the entire thing. This company really does care, they just run on a shoestring.
The other customers had a variety of times when a customer service person for Spirit had made everything okay for them when things got dicey for factors outside their control. It was fun to hang out with people who view travel the same as we do.
Here we are showing some love to Spirit Airlines on a Spirit flight. We're smiling because of all the destinations...and the delirious lack of sleep. That makes us smile like this, too.
Things to know when you travel with Spirit Airlines:
1. Their customer service is incredible if you email or talk to someone
2. Their discounts are steep, so you get less with your flight
3. They consistently underpromise and overdeliver
4. Everything costs something once you're on a flight with Spirit
5. You can only bring one personal item (like a purse or small backpack) if you don't want to pay baggage fees
6. Incredible destinations are within your reach
7. Spirit is fun to fly because you develop camaraderie with the other travelers
8. They'll definitely try to sell you things
9. The alternatives to Spirit can be chintzy, too
10. Spirit (and Frontier) don't coordinate with TSA Pre-Check, so if you pay the $80 to enroll in that program and then only travel Spirit and Frontier, you won't be able to use TSA Pre-Check. Show up early and wait it out.
11. Inconveniences (gate changes, terminal changes) are to be expected, but if there's any real problem, you can count on Spirit to take care of things for you
12. Keep an eye on the departures boards to watch for gate changes
13. Spirit actually has a strict no-divas policy, so if you travel like a diva or drama queen, don't bother (okay, that's not true, but it is true that most of the people you'll meet on Spirit flights are very chill people because they're more keen to travel than to arrive in style)
14. Spirit pilots are brave people, they're putting up with customers who are a little off-beat, so show them some love and clap when they stick a good landing
15. Many of Spirit's planes have removed extras...like seat padding...to get more people on board. The planes are safe, but no one said anything about being comfortable. Remind yourself that it's not about the flight, it's about the destination.
16. There is very limited baggage space and often the last people aboard the plane have to check their carry-on luggage (no cost, but kind of annoying), so be early
17. You aren't going to always get to sit by the person or people you're traveling with. If this is a big deal, spend the extra to get your seat assigned to you ahead of time.
18. Spirit planes are often small, so expect some turbulence
19. The flights and layovers are often strange, such as flying to Florida for a layover on a flight from New York to Denver
20. You'll be flying at night a lot, so get ready to be tired
21. Most of the flight attendants we've met through Spirit are good natured, sick of bull, and are hilarious, be friendly to them and they'll be friendly to you
22. Read the fine print. And then read it again. Make sure you understand all of the requirements and you'll do great!
23. Spirit and Frontier compete, so if you sign up for both email deal lists (Frontier is the Daily Deal Den, I think), you're likely to get emails back-to-back. Hang on and wait for the sweet deals to roll in.
24. The Spirit Credit Card is a lot like the airline...no frills. If you're like us and debt is a no-no, it's not really worth it.
25. Prepare to fly to weird places at weird times. It's okay. You'll be seeing more.
And above all, Spirit rocks. Seriously. Accept them for who they are: A fantastic discount airline.
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