By now, everybody should know that Spirit Airlines is the absolute worst. They charge for everything, the seats don’t come with enough leg room, and sometimes the planes just don’t show up. It’s almost never worth flying with the low-budget carrier. but for the sake of all things Jennifer Lopez, I swallowed my pride and took the challenge. Jenny from the Block currently has her Las Vegas residency in full swing, and I just couldn’t miss it. When I realized I had some downtime at the end of January, I tried all kinds of algorithms to get last minute travel, accommodations, and show tickets at a reasonable price. Nothing was working in my favor, and I just couldn’t see myself splurging on an unplanned and unbudgeted weekend in Vegas when I knew I had a trip to Havana approaching.
I removed the idea of J-Lo from my mind until one magical night when everything somehow worked out. The only problem was that I had to fly with Spirit Airlines. Something was going to go wrong; it was just a matter of what. What if the flight was delayed so long that I actually missed the show? What if the plane doesn’t even show up? What if I don’t make it back home in time for work on Monday morning? Was all of the potential drama worth the risk? I juggled the idea in my mind for most of the evening, and then booked the flight.
At that point, I knew what I was getting into when I bought the ticket. It’s unbundled, and the company went above and beyond to explain this while I booked on their website. They offered a variety of options at additional fees, but I didn’t take any of it. I was going to hop on that plane with nothing more than my one personal item at no additional charge. Here are the things I had to do in order to survive:
Print my boarding pass at home. To avoid that $10 fee each way, I had to go to the library and print my ticket. The library was my only option because I got rid of my personal printer a long time ago, and I have a rule to never print personal things at work. I used the hotel business center to print the return ticket. I used that $10 at the casino instead, and it didn’t go very far for very long. Side note: I don’t understand how people find joy in gambling. I was legit mad at how quickly it took me to lose those $10 as if it was $10,000. I interned in a casino, so I knew I would walk away with nothing, but at least let me get a good 30 minutes of fun out of it!
Pack one personal item only. Spirit charges $35-100 for carry-on baggage, plus $30-100 for checked baggage. They allow one personal item at no charge, so I brought a backpack stuffed for the weekend. As the former queen of 2 checked bags, 1 carryon, and 1 personal item, I’m proud to say that I was able to pack one personal item for my Vegas weekend. Hey, who needs clothing in Vegas? Jokes. I didn’t give myself options when I packed because I didn’t have any room for “just-in=case” outfits. What I learned by packing only a backpack is that overpacking clothes is not an issue for me. It’s the makeup, hair styling tools, and random toiletries that occupy the most space. That’s something I’ll have to improve in the future.
I expected a strict sizing inspection of carry on and personal items, but no one even glanced at what the passengers were carrying as we lined up and got on the plane. The women sitting on my row and me wondered if we could have just strutted onto the plane with a carry on that we didn’t pay to bring, but I would never take a chance at finding out.
Bring my own snacks and water for the 4-hour flight. In the spirit of nothing is free, the company charges for food and beverages. Food was not a big deal for me. A prepackaged snack would not take up any space in my backpack. My issue was water because I drink LOTS of it. I have this is issue with all airlines, though. That small cup of water they serve every once in a while is not enough to keep a normal person hydrated, so I always bring my own on the flight.
Accept the fact that I might have the middle seat. Spirit assigns random seating at check-in unless one pays for the option to pick a seat. I was very tempted to pay for this option just so that I didn’t run the risk of sitting in the middle seat, but opted out. I don’t know of a way to beat the system without having to pay, and I’m not sure how random the seating truly is. On my flight to Vegas, I scored a window seat in the middle of the plane. Not bad. I guess the seat assignment gods were on my side.
On my way back to New Orleans, I was hoping that people got so drunk that they missed the flight. Or perhaps they spent all of their money in the casinos and were too embarrassed to fly home? I got assigned to an aisle seat, but there were a lot of unoccupied seats toward the back of the plane, so I found an empty row and stretched out on the way back to New Orleans. The arm rests didn’t want me to win, though. Those things were in the way of my comfort.
Pray to God for no flight delays or cancellations. I just wanted to get to my destination and back home in one piece. I didn’t want to deal with delays, but I made sure that I was pretty flexible as far as time goes just in case something went wrong. My flight to Vegas was at 7:00 AM so I figured that one would be on time since the plane usually arrives the night before. I was correct, and the departure was on time without any issues. My return flight was late in the evening, and I began receiving notification of delays on the day before the flight. Ultimately, the flight departed two hours later than originally scheduled for reasons unbeknownst to me. Two hour delays are for the birds, but I’ve been through longer ones. If I had something planned immediately after the flight was supposed to land, I would have been highly upset.
The overall experience wasn’t bad, mainly because I walked into the situation expecting the absolute worst. I was concerned about the comfort of the seats and the leg space. Luckily for me, I’m barely 5’6″ (most of which is torso) so I didn’t have any issues stretching my legs. The seats themselves weren’t well-cushioned for sitting on a 3.5-hour flight, and it started to feel like I was sitting on my high school bleachers by the time the second hour came. The tray tables were the size of my hand, but it didn’t matter since they don’t serve food anyway. There was no in-flight entertainment, but I had my own as usual. The flight attendants fulfilled their job requirements, and were nice while doing so – even to some rowdy passenger whose mother didn’t raise him right.
Would I ever fly with the airline again? Ehh, it depends on the destination and the circumstances. It would have to be a short weekend trip, so that I can only bring the personal item. If I had time constraints and needed to get to a location by a certain time, I’d certainly opt for another airline. For an unplanned and unbudgeted trip to Las Vegas, though, Spirit Airlines worked just fine.