Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Stella Shon
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Spirit Airlines is one of several U.S. ultra-low-cost carriers, but with a restrictive fare model and no-frills planes, it’s not necessarily for everyone.
There are many complexities and restrictions that many travelers aren’t aware of when booking Spirit tickets, since its tickets only include the bare bones. So we’re here to look in depth at some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to flying Spirit Airlines. These include:
Let’s dive right in.
Spirit is an American ultra-low-cost airline that operates flights in the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.
The airline is headquartered in Miramar, Florida, with hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Atlantic City (ACY), Chicago (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Miami (MIA), and Orlando (MCO).
It has a fleet size of about 200 aircraft that fly to more than 80 destinations worldwide, primarily within North America. The company slogan is “Less Money. More Go.”
As of 2023, Spirit Airlines has the following aircraft:
Spirit Airlines offers great deals and incredibly low-priced air tickets to its customers — there’s no secret about that. The base fare can be as low as $29, sometimes even lower.
How does can it afford to sell fares for so low? In March 2007, Spirit changed its fare model by removing amenities (which inflate the base ticket price on other carriers). Spirit charges a low base fare, and customers must pay for carry-ons, drinks, food, seats with additional legroom, and baggage. The more amenities included, the more a ticket costs.
So, to capture its market, Spirit reduces the cost of a ticket and lets passengers buy all ancillary items, like seat selection or checked luggage, separately. This enables the carrier to earn extra revenue while posting fares much lower than traditional legacy carriers.
You must purchase a ticket to fly on any of Spirit’s flights. The base fare is usually between $29 to $39 for cheaper tickets, though it could cost less or much more. Seats are assigned randomly at check-in — specific seat selection is not included in your ticket price unless you pay extra for it in advance.
That means there’s no guarantee that you’ll get to sit with family and friends unless you pay to choose seats. So if you are traveling with companions, take your time to read the Spirit Airlines policies, and purchase seats ahead of travel.
Yes, though Spirit considers this an á la carte option. To choose a seat you want, you have to pay for seat assignment, starting at $5.
You can also pick what’s known as a Big Front Seat, which is essentially a first-class-style seat, though with fewer perks. This upgrade starts at around $40. A Big Front Seat has 32% more legroom and no middle seat — prime real estate!
To view the seat prices for a specific flight, check the Seat page when booking online. You can also look under My Trips or the Online Check-in page within 24 hours of departure.
Visit spirit.com for the quickest way to book your flight and get your boarding pass for free.
Start by signing in with your credentials. If you do not have an account, create one (it’s called a Free Spirit account). This only takes a few minutes; you can log in and print your pass at home.
Once you have created an account and signed in, select the Book tab. The page will display the following options:
After you add the required details, click Search Flights. You’ll see results on the page, where you can book your flight. If you have a promo code, the website lets you to enter it at checkout.
Once you finish the process, you can print your boarding pass. This is also a good time to buy a seat assignment, since these options are less expensive online than in person at the airport.
Yes, Spirit Airlines has simple self-service kiosks where you can purchase tickets and print boarding passes in minutes. (If you need assistance, there are customer service agents nearby.) You should complete your check-in or purchase of tickets at least 1 hour before departure.
Boarding passes are available at the check-in counter, but customers will be charged $10 to print a single boarding pass. So if you want to save, print your boarding pass at home.
Here is a list of travelers who may not be able to complete check-in online:
These guests are required to check in at the airport counter. Unlike others who will be charged $10 when printing boarding passes at the airport, the guests listed above will have the $10 fee waived.
Yes, you are allowed to travel with an infant on your lap. Before departure, you should check in with Spirit staff. Spirit Airlines provides the following guidelines when it comes to traveling with an infant:
Fees and taxes are applicable when an infant accompanies you. The amount charged depends on the destination.
Unaccompanied minors can travel alone, but only on domestic direct flights (within the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico). They cannot travel unaccompanied on international flights, domestic flights where an aircraft change is scheduled, or connecting flights.
During flights, unaccompanied minors are taken care of by the airline staff. They will be offered snacks and beverages for a fee, just like any passenger. Unlike most legacy carriers, Spirit will not help children with gate transfers in connecting cities.
Here are the guidelines guests should follow when booking flights for unaccompanied minors:
Yes, but you will be charged a fee if it’s too close to the flight date. Here are the current cancellation and change charges:
|Days from Departure
|0 to 6 days from departure
|7 to 14 days from departure
|15 to 59 days from departure
|60+ days from departure
Customers who purchase Flight Flex can change their ticket for free up to 24 hours before departure.
Spirit Airlines allows changes or cancellation requests to be made up to 1 hour before departure. If you cancel your reservation 0 to 60 days before departure, any remaining balance is issued as credit. If you cancel via Spirit’s Airlines online portal, you will be issued a $10 voucher (one-way) applicable on future travels, provided the reservation charge is less than the cancellation fee.
To make changes or cancel yourself, sign in to your account and click My Trips. If you prefer not to do it yourself, you can text 48763 or 855-728-3555 on WhatsApp, direct message Spirit on social media, call 855-728-3555, or speak to a Spirit agent at the airport. You can also visit the reservations desk, but may be charged for this service.
You can learn more about canceling in this post: How To Cancel a Spirit Airlines Flight [Points or Cash Ticket].
Yes, you’re allowed to change a name that’s misspelled by a few characters. Doing so is free of charge. To change your misspelled name, contact Spirit Airlines’ customer support team.
You can also request a change of your legal name, though you must provide reasons for the change and supporting documents (like a divorce decree, marriage license, or court order). You can request a name change online. Visit spirit.com/help — at the bottom, you should find an option to attach your documents.
If you need to change your contact information, date of birth, passport number, or gender, contact the Spirit’s reservations center or email the customer support team. Remember to have copies of your legal documents.
Yes, Spirit Airlines accepts mobility aids and wheelchairs for travelers. You can carry these devices onto your flight at no charge. To check your mobility aid or wheelchair, visit the ticket or gate counter.
If you’re traveling with a battery-powered mobility aid or wheelchair, we recommend arriving at the airport 2 hours before departure to ensure it’s handled properly. Officials at the ticket counter will recommend that you carry any detachable items like footrests or seat cushions on board yourself. If this is not an option, they may be stowed in the cargo bin.
To make your check-in process fast and smooth, Spirit requests that guests provide the airport crew with written instructions on handling the wheelchair or mobility aid and recommends bringing your user manual. You can also fill in a mobility aid information form.
Spirit Airlines allows travelers to check in with 1 personal item the size of a small box (such as a small backpack, handbag, or purse). These items are included in your base fare, so you will not be charged extra. However, Spirit will charge for extra baggage and some personal items.
If you plan on carrying extra luggage, check in online before departure! The charge for your extra items will be lower if you add them when booking your flight than if you wait and do it at the airport. Fees for carry-on bags start at $31.
Hot Tip: Prepay your bags when you purchase your trip to reduce expenses incurred at the airport.
Personal items allowed by Spirit’s airport crew at no charge include cameras, assistive devices, umbrellas, coats, wraps, hats, and books. Head and neck pillows are allowed, but they must fit inside your backpack or bag.
There’s a common misconception that true low-cost carriers such as Spirit don’t allow small personal items on board — which is why we’re so thorough in mentioning everything you can and cannot bring with you.
Spirit Airlines allows personal items or backpacks under 18 x 14 x 8 inches, including wheels and handles.
The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 22 x 18 x 10 inches. If your carry-on is too big to be stowed safely in the cargo bin, you must check it (and pay extra).
For checked bags, it’s a maximum of 62 total linear inches (the sum of the height, width, and depth, in inches) and 40 pounds. Bags weighing over 40 pounds are charged more because they require special handling, and extra weight means the plane has to use more fuel during flight. Bags over 100 pounds cannot be accepted.
Certain regions, such as South America, have additional baggage restrictions, so be sure to check the Spirit website before you go to the airport.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning to travel with a checked or carry-on bag, make sure to check it online! Doing so at the airport will cost more.
Yes, Spirit Airlines allows you to carry a portable dialysis machine on board at no extra cost, and it doesn’t count toward your baggage allowance. Your device should not exceed 22 inches by 18 inches by 10 inches.
Although Spirit allows you to carry on these medical devices, it prohibits using the machine during the flight. The planes do not have compatible electrical plugs to charge or power medical devices.
Passengers are welcome to carry insulin on board, but it’s recommended that guests inform airline staff about the insulin before boarding. Insulin is normally stored in special bags aboard the flight for safekeeping.
Like other medical devices, insulin will not incur a fee during check-in. However, if your insulin is in a bag together with other personal items (like socks, electronics, and clothing), you might owe a fee for the other personal items if the weight exceeds the recommended limit.
For more information about traveling with insulin and other medical assistive devices, check the TSA website.
It depends. You can carry some sports equipment on your flight. All checked sports equipment, such as hockey sticks, tennis racquets, and others, are charged just like a standard checked bag and stored in the hold. The sports equipment should be secured inside a bag. Spirit will charge you for a separate bag if they are not packed securely in the bag.
Spirit Airlines only permits non-battery-operated and non-motorized skateboards. Electric or battery-operated skateboards and other sports equipment cannot be checked (batteries can contain hazardous materials that can endanger other travelers and the plane).
Sports items not within the normal carry-on dimensions will be checked in the hold, and you will be charged a checked baggage fee.
Musical instruments such as ukuleles, violins, guitars, cellos, accordions, saxophones, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars are considered fragile. To prevent damage, pack your musical instruments in a case.
Instruments are charged like any other checked bag, meaning you’ll have to pay the checked bag price and any overweight charges. You must also sign a release form before departure that relieves Spirit of liability for damage or loss of the musical instrument.
Distinct from the Free Spirit program, Spirit has a program called the Spirit Saver$ Club (formerly known as the $9 Fare Club). This club offers benefits, including discounted fares, baggage fees, seats, and time-saving options for a fee of $69.95 for 12 months, $99.90 for 18 months, or $129.90 for 24 months. You could offset the membership fee above in as little as 1 booking, so the savings are potentially significant!
To join the Spirit Saver$ Club, you are required to register online and submit the following details:
You’ll also have to provide your billing information. Spirit Airlines accepts major credit cards and other popular payment systems, and your membership is renewed each year automatically unless canceled.
Benefits of joining the Spirit Saver$ Club include:
Free Spirit is a free rewards program created by Spirit Airlines to reward its customers for flying Spirit on an ongoing basis. To join the program, you must fill out a membership form with the following details:
A welcome email with your account information is sent to your inbox if registration is successful. Alternatively, you can become a Free Spirit member when you book your first flight.
Benefits of the Free Spirit Program include:
You can book and manage your flight reservation using Spirit Airlines mobile app on Apple or Android. If you have questions about bookings and managing your reservations within the program, call Spirit Airlines at 801-401-2222.
Strangely enough, you can save upwards of $19 per ticket if you book at the airport. This is the opposite of most of Spirit’s policies, where speaking to someone at the airport incurs a fee.
Because airlines must pay a federal excise task on base fares, Spirit tries to avoid paying this tax by adding an $18.99 passenger usage fee to tickets booked over the phone or online. This fee is not a tax and is included in most online and phone booking scenarios. In this way, Spirit can increase what is essentially the fare of the ticket so it doesn’t incur the additional tax.
Because the fee is only applied to online or phone bookings, you can avoid this $18.99 charge by booking at the airport. When you arrive at the airport, speak to a customer service representative to get around paying this nuisance fee.
When you get to the counter, let them know your preferred travel dates and routing, and they’ll price out the itinerary for you, less the $18.99 fee. While this does save you money on your ticket cost, you need to weigh the cost of driving to the airport and getting this done, which could be more expensive than just paying the fee at home.
There are many nuances to booking Spirit tickets, but with a little know-how, it’s easy to figure things out and save a few bucks. Spirit can save you a ton of money when you travel, and understanding its processes and policies will help you maximize the experience and not overpay.
The information regarding the Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Spirit Airlines allows travelers to check in with 1 personal item the size of a small box (such as a small backpack, handbag, or purse). These items are included in your base fare, so you will not be charged extra fees.
However, Spirit will charge for extra baggage and some personal items. If you plan on carrying extra luggage, check in online before departure! The charge for your extra items will be lower if you add them when booking your flight than if you wait and do it at the airport. Fees for carry-on bags run north of $25.
You do not have to select a seat. If you choose not to, you will be assigned one at random. If you do want to select your seat, you’ll have to do it in advance and pay extra.
Distinct from the Free Spirit program, the Spirit Saver$ Club (formerly known as the $9 Fare Club), launched in 2021. This club offers benefits like discounted fares, baggage fees, seats, and time-saving options for a fee of $69.95 for 12 months, $99.90 for 18 months, or $129.90 for 24 months. The new benefits, compared to the $9 Fare Club, are the discounted seats and time-saving options.
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