Why You Should NEVER Fly Spirit Airlines

Courtesy of Spirit Airlines
Why You Should NEVER Fly Spirit Airlines

Just Trust Me on This One

Spirit Airlines is not worth the cheap fares if they can’t deliver on their only premise: to get you from Point A to Point B with “no frills.”

Preparing to Fly with Spirit

I did a LOT of research on Spirit before I chose to book my flight with them. I knew ALL the extra costs, read the negative reviews. Everything. Perhaps I didn’t read enough of the negative reviews, or I somehow thought I was exempt from the terrible experiences other people had. Most of the negative reviews centered on the “extra fees.” As I knew about all of these fees (paying for carry-on bags, check-in at the airport, even the extra cost to buy your ticket online) I felt smug. No way Spirit could pull the wool over my eyes. I was prepared.

I booked my ticket from NYC-Panama while I was in Puerto Rico at the airport to avoid the online processing fee. As my only stipulation was that it was a flight sometime in January to a Central American country, I had the flexibility to work with the agents to find a very cheap flight. I booked a flight from NYC Laguardia-Panama City on January 16th for $134.

Shit Went Down

I signed into my Spirit account a few days later to find that while I thought I had booked a direct flight to Panama City (that’s what the agents told me), I actually would have a layover in Fort Lauderdale. Still, I wasn’t phased. I bought my checked bag (actually cheaper than a carry-on bag at $35 VS. $40) and got excited for my trip to Panama!

The day of travel came, and I got on the bus from Syracuse to NYC. I got an e-mail from Spirit saying that my flight had been delayed. Now I would only have 20 minutes to make my flight to Panama City. I laughed. Here were the infamous delays the reviews talked about. I could handle delays. As long as I eventually made it to Panama City, I was okay. I let go of my attachment to the outcome (and thank God I did!)

A few hours later, I got another e-mail saying that my flight was delayed again. Now I would be getting to Fort Lauderdale after my flight to Panama had already left. Um. Okay. The only option given in the e-mail was to manage my flight online or call customer service. I checked online and the flight to Fort Lauderdale before mine had been canceled. I called customer service. After waiting for an hour to get someone on the phone, they rudely told me that I would be “fine” and to just talk to the agents at the airport. Wow. Thanks for the “help.” Still, I remained positive. I would go to the airport and everything would be worked out.

When I arrived in NYC, I checked my e-mail again to find a notification that my flight had been cancelled. I went to manage my flight online and the only option was to change my flight to the 20th or the 23rd. What?!

The only thing to do was go to the airport.

 

No Help To Be Found

I knew the agents at the airport were probably frazzled from people being angry about the canceled flight. I took a deep breath and put my friendly customer face on. I calmly explained to the agent that my flight to Panama was leaving (on time I might add) from Fort Lauderdale tonight, and how could I make that flight?

The only help they could offer was telling me to try to get a ticket with Jet Blue to Fort Lauderdale. They told me that the next flight to Fort Lauderdale wouldn’t be until Monday. No explanation as to why the flights were canceled (there was no bad weather as far as I could tell).

I went to the Jet Blue counter, and they told me that the only ticket left that would get me on my flight to Panama was over $600. If the point of flying with Spirit was to SAVE money, a $600 one-way domestic flight was out of the question.

So back to the Spirit counter. I got a different agent and asked if there were any flights to Central America AT ALL that night that I could get on. She said no. That I would have to wait until Monday. Well, what was to say that the same exact thing wouldn’t happen again on Monday?

Thankfully, while I was talking to the various agents, my mom was researching flights leaving that night. She found a direct flight with United from Newark to Panama City leaving in a few hours for only $81 more. Score!

I got a full refund from Spirit Airlines. After reading reviews from other people after the fact, I got lucky.

Then, I had to head from Laguardia to Newark (no easy feat, as anyone who has done it can attest). A few hours later I was on my way to Panama. With a whole row of seats to myself, I might add.
 

Reasons You Should Not Fly Spirit Airlines

If my experience hasn’t convinced you already that you shouldn’t fly on Spirit Airlines, let this list help you:
 

  • They don’t care about their customers. 
     
    From the fact that their social media is all automated to the unhelpful customer service reps on the phone, Spirit makes it clear that they could give a crap about their customer. Now, let me state that I’m not trying to say that every employee at Spirit has malicious intent towards their customers. Of course not. In fact, it stands to reason that if they treat their customers in such a poor manner, one can only imagine their employees are treated far worse. I’m merely stating that by presenting such a poor customer service plan they destroy all hopes of being seen as an airline that cares about the customer.
  •  

  • Flights are canceled with no explanation and no help to get you to your destination. 
     
    From other reviews I read, my flight was not the only one canceled that day. Just from doing a quick Twitter search I found at least 10 other people all around the country that had canceled flights. From my research before booking my flight, I knew that Spirit has a small fleet which can cause lots of delays and even cancellations. What I did not know to expect was that when your flight gets delayed or canceled, Spirit will offer no recourse on how to actually get to your destination. (I should have read this International Business Times article or this Consumerist article). That hasn’t happened to me on literally any other airline I’ve ever flown.
  •  

  • If Spirit Airlines can’t get you from Point A to Point B, then their cheap fares don’t matter. 
     
    This is just the truth. Their official slogan is “Less Money. More Go.” More like “More Money. No Go.” Because once you add up all the fees you’ll accumulate from having to either change your flight last minute and travel to another airport or stay two days in a hotel until your flight actually leaves, it’s much more expensive to book a Spirit flight and risk getting stranded. The concept of a true budget airline in the United States is one that I’m genuinely excited about, but if Spirit Airlines can’t actually fly you to where you need to go, they’re not a viable solution.
  •  

    And One Reason Why You SHOULD Fly Spirit Airlines

    If you don’t care when, how, or IF you get to your destination, have a VERY flexible schedule, and are open to the possibility of a very cheap flight that may get you to where you want to be. Stay detached, friendly in the face of rude customer service, and constantly open to changing your plans. Then you may want to fly with Spirit Airlines. Otherwise, please, stay away.
     

    Wondering what I got up to when I (eventually) reached Central America? Check out these related posts:

    Things I Will Miss About Central America Things I Won't Miss About Central America

    Happy Exploring, Wherever You Are!

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    12 comments

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had such a crappy experience with them. Two years ago my husband and I flew Spirit to cheaply get from Central America to Peru. There was of course the need to get to Ft. Lauderdale between any other jumps, but otherwise our flights were extremely spaced out so we didn’t have to worry about delays. Good thing we didn’t have a cancellation though! Glad to hear you were still able to get to Panama.

      1. I’m glad you had a good experience with Spirit! I think the key is probably to have flights spaced out enough (but even then if they cancel a flight to Fort Lauderdale and have no others for two days, it probably won’t do any good). It’s definitely a great deal if you can get to your destination! And thank you, I’m really glad I got here too! Haha..although I’m sure I would have gotten here one way or the other, but I am thankful it could be on the same day I left! 🙂

    2. Oh no! Our flight back from Panama City to Dallas is via Spirit – I hope we don’t have the same issues. I have only flown them once before on a flight from NYC to Chicago (which had a 3 hour layover in Detroit) and I remember that it was the worst flying experience of my life. Like seriously the leg room was non-existent. When we went to book these flights – Spirit was like $200 cheaper than any other airline so we took a gamble. Fingers crossed!

      1. I’m sure you’ll be okay, Chantell! I’ve heard plenty of stories of Spirit actually getting their customer from Point A to Point B! Hahah..just go in with an open mind and let go of when you get there! 😛

    3. URGH- I feel this way about American Airlines! They have constantly disappointed with inexplicable delays and cancellations.

      On a bright note, Southwest has been there for me countless times. Including times when I had made quite an error… as in booked a flight for a week later than I had anticipated and showed up at the airport bags in hand. They got me on the flight I thought I had bought tickets for- free of charge!

      At least you lucked out with the flight from United 🙂 thanks for sharing! I know it can be hard to be negative sometimes.
      Lauren recently posted…A Weekend in Aruba: What We Did Wrong and What We Did RightMy Profile

      1. Really?? Oh no! I haven’t flown American in a while, but I do have their travel rewards credit card with a bunch of miles, so I will have to see how I fare with that!

        I’ve heard nothing but good things about Southwest! For some reason, maybe because I hardly fly to the Southwest, I haven’t had any opportunity to fly with them. You bet the next chance I get I’m taking it!

        You’re right, it was surprisingly hard to write this negative review of Spirit. Even though I posted a similar rant on other forums in the midst of the whole ordeal, it was difficult to fully go negative on this blog for the first time. But hey, when a company doesn’t meet your expectations, other people should know about it!

    4. Glad I came across your article, I was about to book a flight from Washington DC to Las Vegas for my September US Holiday. I’m a worry freak, not sure I can handle that much trouble. I’ll probably spent an extra dollar to fly with United Airline. Any suggestion?

      1. I ended up flying United to Panama City when my flight with Spirit got cancelled! It actually was only $68 dollars more and a direct flight, whereas with Spirit I would’ve had to change flights. If it’s only a bit more money I would say spend it for a little more peace of mind. Of course, there are plenty of people who fly Spirit and have no problems, but imo it’s not worth the risk.

    5. Yikes! I’m planning to go to Costa Rica soon and was hoping to fly with Spirit. Like you, I’d previously read lots of reviews about flight delays and extra fees and thought that I was well prepared to handle all that. A completely cancelled flight though– well, I’m not sure if I could handle that one. Especially since I’ll be going for dental tourism and will have appointments to make it on time for. Eek. Maybe it’s time I start looking into other airlines for a bit more money. Thanks for the heads up!
      Jillian Michelle recently posted…Six Flags Combines Virtual Reality with Real Life Roller Coaster in New Rage of the Gargoyles RideMy Profile

      1. Oh no!! Yeah, I would say if you definitely need to be in Costa Rica at a certain time for your appointment to not take chances with Spirit! It will be worth a little extra money, I promise!

      1. Ugh, they’re the worst, right? I read a lot about delays before traveling with them but I guess I just didn’t expect it to be SUCH a shitty experience 😛 Sorry you had to learn the lesson the hard way, too!

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