Spirit 719 – Flight Background/Tickets
This week’s Spirit 719 trip takes me from Denver to (hopefully) sunny Los Angeles to join my high school friends on a four day Memorial Day boat adventure (#boatlife). The flight actually has a planned stopover in Las Vegas, where some passengers will deplane and others will board. The gate agent said that in all likelihood we won’t have to deplane if we’re staying on for Los Angeles, but I didn’t mind the prospect of just hopping out to do a little tripchi scoping of Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport (one of my least favorite airports, actually).
Interestingly, I opted to fly Spirit (as opposed to United where I have the bulk of my miles, or even Frontier where I have started to accumulate some on the short hops) because, not only was the Spirit 719 flight the cheapest, but there was an option to join the $9 flight club which made the fare still less had I bought it without joining Spirit’s club.
The fare cost $171, but included the $59 Spirit $9 fare club, which could get me cheaper flights in the future. Considering I was traveling over the busy Memorial Day weekend, this was not a bad round-trip at all. Also, I’ve learned to fly Wednesday to Wednesday, which is another tip to get lower fares.
The other “different” thing I noticed about Spirit was the markup if you didn’t print out our own boarding pass at home. Yes folks, you heard me right – there’s not even a mobile option. You really have to print out your boarding pass and bring the piece of paper to the gate agent in order to avoid something like a $25 fee at the gate.
Of course I also decided to travel without luggage (checked or carry-on), since these would also be additional up-charges that would have made the fare less competitive. Since I’m from Los Angeles, there is still enough of my stuff stashed away at my parents’ house such that I don’t need to bring more than a backpack…further saving me money and allowing me to use the LCCs.
Spirit 719 – Departure Airport/Check-in/Boarding Process
I did my typical Parking Spot to Terminal West, and then walked to the less crowded security lines near the Terminal A bridge since Spirit 719 would be taking off from Gate A44. Unfortunately I forgot to register my TSA Pre-Check number with Spirit, so this didn’t make it on to my ticket. Given that I’d have to go through security with the masses, it really was a good thing I chose the A Bridge security. Security took about 20 minutes, and the whole time I was kicking myself for not remembering to enter in my TSA Pre-Check number. Note: After the fact I did some research and it wouldn’t have mattered anyways – Spirit at this time does not participate in PreCheck.
After security, I made my way to the Spirit 719’s gate (A44) and found that I still had a few more minutes until boarding began. So, I headed over to grab a to-go dinner from a Denver concessionaire (of course utilizing the tripchi airport app).
The boarding process was smooth and the gate agent was hilarious. He made fun of Spirit’s policy to charge for everything, and he kept cracking jokes all the way through boarding. This light-heartedness elevated the mood (which was already jovial since the flight was stopping over in Las Vegas), and helped make an otherwise tedious process more enjoyably. A smile and a sense of humor is really all an airline needs to make people happy. I would go so far as to say this is more important than free drinks and the ability to choose your seat in advance. At the very least, it makes all these things palatable.
I boarded with Group 3 (out of 4) – boarding was so efficient that there was no line on the jet-bridge and I pretty much got to sit down immediately without waiting. Even the queue to board the plane wasn’t too long, and moved quickly.
Spirit 719 – Flight Details
- Route:Denver to Las Vegas, and on to Los Angeles
- Airline:Spirit 719 – Spirit’s IATA code is NK
- Departure Gate: A44
- Arrival Gate: B23
- Scheduled:6:15 PM
- Actual Departure time: 6:17 PM
- Boarding time: 5:40 PM (estimate)
- Scheduled Arrival Time: 6:43 PM
- Actual Arrival Time: 6:49 PM
- Time in flight: 1h 31m
- Baggage Claim:N/A (carry-on only)
- Aircraft type:Airbus A320 Tail number 684
- Distance traveled: 637 miles
- Route: CONNR3 DBL J60 BCE GRNPA1
- Class: Economy (K)
- Seat: 27E (middle seat but there was no one sitting at the window, so I shifted over)
- Load factor: 70% full (estimate)
- Average Ticket Cost: $122.97 (I got my roundtrip fare for roughly this amount)
Spirit 719 – Interior/takeoff
Once on-board, the flight attendants did a safety demonstration the old-fashioned way (manually, no video). Like my Delta flight previously, I thoroughly enjoyed the safety demonstration. The flight attendants on Spirit 719 cracked jokes about how you had to swipe your credit card to get an oxygen mask to fall in the event of an emergency – and then it was $2.99 a minute for oxygen. Awesome!
The cabin was of course cramped. The seats did not recline. The flight attendants mentioned that if your seat does recline, it’s because it is broken – and to notify an attendant right away. 🙂
That said the Spirit 719 flight wasn’t nearly at capacity and there was room to shift about into open seats during the flight. There was also ample overhead space to stash a bag or backpack.
I did appreciate that the cabin interior at least was new-ish looking, with clean seat covers. However, I did notice some crumbs and filth on my tray table once I brought it down during the flight.
Spirit 719 – Seat
I had a middle seat – 27E – and as mentioned above I was able to shift to the window and enjoy some beautiful Rocky Mountains views for takeoff. I really love this picture of the Spirit wing almost pinching in to mountainous landscape.
The seat, as mentioned, had no recline capability, and no in-flight entertainment system. I’m also pretty sure there is less leg-room than even the regular US carriers (United, Delta, American, etc.), which are already cramped in economy. The plus side was that the armrests pulled back, which created more space.
Spirit 719 – Meal/Purchased food/Drinks
Knowing that Spirit is a no-frills, buy everything budget Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), my plan was to bring food from the airport concessions on to the flight. I have a few minutes to spare between my flight, and my tripchi airport app told me that a burrito joint was nearby. I got a pork carnitas burrito to go. Glad I did – the options onboard were scant. Just snacks and drinks (everything costs). But actually the prices were reasonable. Here’s a picture of the Spirit 719 buy-on-board menu:
Spirit 719 – Crew/Service
The service was minimal, but as soon as we hit 36,000 the crew came up and down the aisles to take buy-on-board drink and snack orders. It seemed that about 10% of the passengers opted for this service. All transactions were credit card based. And that’s about all the service there was – save for the attendants coming by again to collect trash.
Similarly, being that there’s no in-flight entertainment system, passengers are pretty much on their own to entertain themselves. I personally played Candy Crush while listening to my Arabic music on my MP3 player (and started to write this blog).
Spirit 719 – Landing/Arrival Airport
The only annoying aspect of this flight was that we ended up having to deplane in Las Vegas’s McCarron International Airport (LAS) – one of my least favorite airports. It’s really no fun to hang out in, not a lot of food or shopping options (that aren’t cheesy), and is just a general trashy place to spend time (the slot machine’s don’t help).
The gate agent in DEN set my expectations on NOT having to deplane in LAS, and I thought I could just hang out on the plane when the new people boarded.
Again, I don’t think I would have minded deplaning, but the agent had set my expectations for NOT deplaning…so I had that in mind (even though he did caveat it with the *possibility* that we may have to deplane for a crew change). And that’s exactly what happened – a new crew had to come onboard, so the passengers had to deplane and replane in the process.
Spirit 719 – Overall
Given the utter lack of amenities and no-frill, buy-everything service, it was actually quite a pleasant flight. The fact that all charges are transparent, and that you know what you are (and aren’t) getting in terms of service and comfort goes a long way. In aviation, like anything else, it’s all about setting expectations. Passengers on this Spirit 719 flight has near zero expectations, and I would say that Spirit absolutely exceeded them.
For the crew’s humor, the airline’s ability to make fun of itself, and the pricing transparency, I give this flight a B+. It gets an A for cost, but probably a B- for Cost/Comfort ratio. I’m looking forward to flying Spirit again and taking advantage of the $9 fares (we’ll see if there are ever any actually available).
Have you flown Spirit recently? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on this blog, or tweeting to us @tripchi.