How to save money on Spirit Airlines flights: booking a ticket at the airport and other things you should know about bargain flights

By Tetiana PavlichenkoJan 17, 2024 09:15 AMBudget trips
How to save money on Spirit Airlines flights: booking a ticket at the airport and other things you should know about bargain flights
Spirit Airlines is known for cheap flights. Source: Image ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0/

When searching for tickets on popular resources like Expedia or Kayak, if you sort by lowest price, you'll mostly see a few offers from Spirit Airlines. This airline is widely known as a carrier that offers flights with little space, little room for belongings, and frequent flight delays. But at the same time, these trips are hundreds of dollars cheaper.

However, when they see a good price, many travelers immediately grab it, not realizing that there is a way to save even more on Spirit and make that flight even more profitable. It consists in buying tickets at the airport. This way you can save about $23 for a one-way ticket. For some distances, this amount can be half of the cost of the entire fare.

This possibility was pointed out by One Mile at a Time, a website with tips for travelers. According to it, Spirit's ticket price includes a "passenger usage" fee, which is added to the price at the time of booking online and over the phone. That explains how to buy Spirit Airlines tickets cheaper. If you book at the counter at the airport, you can bypass this fee, which has arisen because of companies' desire to create tax workarounds.

One Mile at a Time points out that airlines are required to pay a 7.5% federal excise tax on airline tickets, but that doesn't apply to surcharges. Therefore, they categorize part of the passenger's cost as a "usage fee" rather than a ticket, thus saving on taxes. "Fee" has an "optional" status, which gives the customer the opportunity to waive it by booking in person.

How to save money on Spirit Airlines flights: booking a ticket at the airport and other things you should know about bargain flights
Booking a ticket at the airport helps save quite a bit of money. Source: Image WestportWiki, CC BY-SA 3.0/

Spirit believes, and for good reason, that most passengers will not drive to the airport just to save a few dollars on tickets, so will pay a "usage fee" by booking in a convenient way. And in many ways, this is indeed the case. However, for some travelers, it is worth the time and effort. "Usage fees" today are a flat $22.99 for each one-way passenger. Now let's imagine you are facing a flight with a family of 4. Booking in person at the airport is a great way to save Spirit Airlines more than $180 per round-trip flight.

But this benefit is saved if you're willing to travel with minimal comfort. If you want a better flight experience, some of the savings will still need to be spent. Let's continue exploring the family flight option. Chances are you'll want to sit side-by-side. Spirit charges a fee for seat selection, as well as for checked baggage and carry-on luggage. So either travel light or pay.

To fly Spirit in comfort, some tips from the Lifehacker resource can help. For example, the seats above and in front of the wing of the airplane will be more comfortable. It's also worth thinking about what to do during the flight: bring some games or something else that will keep you entertained during the flight. Don't forget a sleep mask and earplugs in case of loud neighbors.

Another point on how to save money on Spirit Airlines flights is luggage. It is highly recommended that you pay for it right when you book, because Spirit Airlines will charge a much higher amount for checking your luggage at the gate. Checked luggage can cost you anywhere from $30 to $100.

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