September 30, 2021

Should I book flights with a discount airline?

Rob Warren
President of Malibu Travels LLC

Spirit might be for you. There are fantastic deals available and great itineraries in term of departure and arrival times.   If you’re traveling on short trips, using Frontier or Spirit might also work out for you as well. 

Travel Blog Therapy

Late this summer there were lots of terrible horror stories about customers being stuck in Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, and San Juan Puerto Rico because of issues caused by staffing numbers and bad weather, that plagued Spirit Airlines.  

Spirit because of its business model and cheap prices already takes a beating in terms of reputation. Many airlines experienced issues this summer because of a surge in domestic travel but there hadn’t been a resurgence of employees coming back after being furloughed or laid off.  

Staffing was at a big shortage across many major American airlines because American’s desire to fly was surging and their ability to hire for the demand didn’t match that.

Now things have calmed down as we have gone into the slower travel season with kids gone back to school and hurricane season is still roaring. Folks tend to not travel as much until the holiday seasons start back in November and December.  

Settling back in, with the industry going back to homeostasis, I think it’s ok to travel on a budget airline. You just have to know what you’re getting into and read the fine print.

As a travel advisor I have customers that will tell me “Anything but Spirit” when they complete my customer onboarding forms.  The reputation of budget airlines is probably worse than the reality. 

Are the seats a little hard?  Yes. Do they give you free snacks? 

No, but they have them for sale and of course you can always bring your own in your personal item bag.  If you’re the type of flyer that mostly takes Domestic flights that 3 hours long or less.  If you’re the type of flyer that flies fairly often;  If you love a good deal,  If you like to leave early in the morning and get to your destination in the late morning or early afternoon.  

Spirit might be for you. There are fantastic deals available and great itineraries in term of departure and arrival times.   If you’re traveling on short trips, using Frontier or Spirit might also work out for you as well. 

 I say this because you would have to pay for all of your luggage on discount brands like Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit.  It can get expensive to pay for 2 or 3 bags for long trips each way, and the discount you get on your ticket is almost moot as you’d pay less or about the same flying on one of the big three (United, American, Delta).

An option that I have always enjoyed that makes flying on budget airlines a little more comfortable and palatable is sitting the in Big Front Seat as Spirit calls it.  You’re sitting 2 across instead of 3 across like the rest of the plane, you have a little more leg room and the seats are big and cushy like first class for many airlines. 

You still have to pay for bags and other snacks, but you’ll have a nice comfy ride and be close to the front of the plane, you’ll get to board earlier and be close to the rest room.

Both Spirit and Frontier have Miles programs as well as a benefit program.  Spirit calls theirs the 9$ club where you get access to deals and discounts on bag fees and seating.  It’s sold on a flat one time yearly fee 60$ to join, and 70$ to keep the membership. 

The benefits extend to anyone on the same reservation, so it would pay for itself right away. So in short, if you are taking short trips, travel often, love deep discounts, then give Frontier and Spirit a try, if you don’t need all of the amenities that the big 3 and other airlines offer.

Don’t believe some of the ugly narratives about these airlines.  Also know what you’re getting into.

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