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:
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.
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.
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:
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