Due to the terrible winter we have had in the northeast USA, I decided it was high time to get myself to a warmer climate. My girlfriend was already down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for work so the destination was an easy choice. This also gave me the opportunity to fly Spirit Airlines direct from BOS–FLL. I had flown Spirit before but it was a short flight from BOS-ACY so it was tolerable. I was interested to see how it would be on a 3+hour flight.
I pretty much knew Spirit Airlines was going to be lowest priced ticket but I checked other metasearch website anyways. The only other direct I was finding was on JetBlue for 400+ so the decision was easy. Even the times worked out great. Leave BOS at 5:19pm and get into FLL at 9:00pm. Now if you know how Spirits pricing works you know the price of the ticket isn’t the total price you will pay. I bought my ticket a little over two-weeks from departure date for $240 round trip (I flew back on a Tuesday at 8:00am). To me this is a very cheap ticket. What I do enjoy about Spirit is they break down the fare for you. So I paid $200 for the actual flight and around $40 went to taxes and fees.
Now started the fun process of what extras to pay for. They really shouldn’t be called extras and more like necessities. At first I decided that I was only going to bring a backpack so I wouldn’t have to pay for a carry on. It is slightly genius that Spirit charges you more for a carry on. They want less baggage in the cabin to decrease boarding times due to the increased seating, but they know people value their time and don’t want to wait at the baggage carousel, hence $35 for a carry on and $30 for a checked bag. These fees only increase if you buy them during check in or at the airport. I folded and went for the carry on both ways, so now we are up to $310. It will also cost you money to pick a seat. It was $55 for the “Big Seat” up front their version of business that doesn’t recline, $19 for front of the cabin, $11 for middle and $6 for the back. The emergency rows were around $30’s. I folded again and went for an aisle seat mid cabin for $11 each way. If it was a shorter flight I wouldn’t have picked my seat but in the end I am glad I spent my money. The aircraft was an A320 with 28” pitch and 17.5 width, both the least in the US domestic market. So now I have a carry on both ways, choose my seat and am all in for $332, still cheaper than JetBlue but how will the actual flight be.
Check In/Boarding Process
I checked in online and printed my boarding pass as it was a $10 fee to do it with an agent at the airport. When I showed up at the airport I used the automated kiosks to see if someone had bought the seat next to me and if I need to switch. Sure enough someone had but there were no better seats. Without warning though the machine printed a boarding card. I was nervous I would get charged for it but it turns out as long as you don’t speak to an agent you are all set.
I jumped into the security line and for rush hour on a Friday it only took about 15 minutes to get through. I was in terminal B with the US Airways and American passengers and it seemed everybody knew the security drill. On my return flight from FLL-BOS it was a total different story. Spirit Airlines runs Terminal 4 at FLL but the check in and security were and absolute zone (insert curb pic). I have never seen so many people unaware of how to go through security: shoes on, belts on, tons of money and crap in their pockets while going into the scan. Spirit certainly resembled more of a bus station at FLL.
Getting to the gate you can tell that passengers are trying to sneak bags on. My bag was larger than the one personal item you could bring on board and I had a sense of relief that I didn’t need to worry about a gate agent catching me. Boarding goes by zones and since I bought a carry on I got zone 1, which was nice. I easily found a place for my bag and sat down. I immediately noticed how thin the seat pad and backing were, they weren’t uncomfortable, just thin. I also noticed how close the other seat was to my face. I am really glad the seats didn’t recline and sitting up straight all flight I think helps. Having the aisle seat was a great idea. I was able to extend my leg into the aisle when the cart wasn’t in service and it just felt like I had much more room.
- Route: Boston to Ft. Lauderdale
- Airline: Spirit 615
- Scheduled: 5:19pm
- Actual Flight time: 5:25 PM
- Boarding time: 4:30 PM
- Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:50 PM
- Actual Arrival Time: 9:10 PM
- Aircraft type: Airbus A320
- Distance traveled: 1100 miles
- Class: Economy
- Seat: 17D (purchased)
- Load factor: 100% full
- Average Ticket Cost: $135.75
With the every seat filled on flight I expected a long takeoff roll but the A320 showed its power and got off the ground with plenty of room to spare. We took off towards the north-east and then turned south to travel down the coast. The initial climb was bumpy until we got to cruising altitude. The service was prompt but it takes awhile because they stewardess have to run the card machine for every purchase. I spent $13 bucks (add that to the total) on adult beverages but they do have some good bundled deals for food and drink. They also have Cup-o-Soup on the menu, which I found odd but I saw them selling more of that than anything. The stewardess work hard and served drinks and food throughout the flight, not sure if they make commissions of the sales but they should. They were all very friendly and helpful. Just don’t ask for free water and if you do pretend you are dehydrated. Also the captain was always positive and provided plenty of updates which I always appreciate. Towards the end of the flight the bar in the back of the seat started to hurt my back but other than the seat was tolerable.
There was heavy traffic coming into FLL due some rain earlier in the day, so we had to hold for 20 minutes. The ride down was a little bumpy and so was the landing but we made it in one piece. The taxi in was short but it took forever to get off the plane because the jet bridge took forever to connect. The FLL airport is well put together but a little hectic with a busy pickup area.
Flying on Spirit Airlines really is what you make of it. If you want a cheap flight and I you aren’t worried about comfort or bringing too much stuff with you, it’s the way to go. In the end though when you pay for all the extras and can be comparable to flying on any other carrier. I did stay below $400 mark but every time I added a seat or my carry on bag the initial price felt less and less like a savings. The flight boarding was efficient, the service was prompt and the flight tolerable. The seats yes are tight, the crowd is a little rowdy and you will pay for everything including water. If you want a cheap fare and can pack lite, there is no reason why Spirit Airlines should be on your don’t fly list. I give the flight a B on account of price and service. As always be sure to sign up for the tripchi beta.