Thriving on an Ultra Low Cost Carrier

by | Jan 30, 2023 | FTM Travel Info

It probably isn’t a surprise to hear that airfare is insanely high right now! Sometimes you have time to wait for a better deal, but there are times in our lives when we just have to hop on a plane and go and that is the situation I found myself in recently. I needed to get from Chicago to Dallas and I was not trying to pay $400+ for a one-way ticket! Normally, I’d fly a “luv-ly” low-cost carrier, but they were too expensive for this trip so I found myself on Spirit Airlines, America’s love it or hate it, ultra low-cost carrier! Airlines like Spirit are known for offering lower than normal base airfares and upcharging for everything other than a seatbelt and access to the lavatories! 

Want to choose your seat – CHARGE! Want a sip of water – CHARGE! Want to stretch your legs – CHARGE! Baggage?? You want to bring BAGGAGE??!!!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – charge.

I knew all of this going in, but the lure of my $44 nonstop fare to Dallas was too good to pass up so here are the things I did to make my ride on Spirit as smooth as possible and you can too! 

(Big Front) Seating: I was flying alone so I didn’t have to make sure I sat with my family or anything, but I knew from my only other trip on Spirit that the seats were very tight and I would’ve liked a little more breathing room. I didn’t choose a seat when I booked, but after I completed the booking, Spirit emailed me with an option to bid for one of their “Big Front Seats” as well as exit row seating. They give you an opportunity to put in a bid amount based on the flight to sit in a better seat. I could’ve paid $45 for a Big Front Seat guaranteed, but the bidding was open for a range of $8 – $44 and seeing as I only paid $44 for the flight, I didn’t want to spend more on the seat (it just felt wrong), but I was willing to pay something for the sake of my comfort! I entered a bid of $25 and waited. They normally let you know if your bid was accepted or not 24 hours before the flight, sometimes more, sometimes less. I also put in a bid of $10 for an exit row seat as a backup in case the other didn’t come through. You enter your credit card info and they only charge you if your bid wins. You also automatically lose the exit row bid if your Big Seat comes through! About 36 hours before the flight, I got an email saying that I had been outbid, but that I had the opportunity to bid higher to stay in the race! I increased my bid to $35 and my low cost bougie dreams were still alive! Later that day I was in! Seat 1A was mine! The seat was awesome, it is a domestic first class seat, with none of the first class amenities (e.g. food, snacks, water, baggage, in-flight entertainment), but for an extra $35, having the extra space was well worth it! My seatmate and I even shared the large middle armrest with the awkward elbow touches! For reference, two of the Big Front Seats take up the same space as 3 poor unfortunate souls—I mean normal seats on Spirit!

Personal size bag: While I was balling on a budget in the front row, I was still not paying for a bag. The base ticket allows you to bring a personal sized bag at no additional cost which is good, but there are some size limits. At the time of my flight (January 2023) the size restrictions for a personal bag on Spirit is 18 x 14 x 8 inches. I hopped on Amazon and found myself a functional bag for $35 that fit my needs! I needed a backpack anyway to be honest and it was cheaper than buying a carry-on or checked bag access through Spirit! This is Wonhox’s Large Travel Carry-on Backpack for Women and it comes in a variety of colors! Ignore me in that picture, I was embarking on an ultra low-cost travel mission. The backpack held up pretty well, fit in the personal sized item box and fit a MacBook Pro, Surface Pro, cords for them and my phone, 2.5 days worth of clothes, carry-on toiletries, hair brush and comb, flip flops and a small planner!

Bring snacks: I ate in the airport and brought my drink onboard, but I didn’t bring snacks. How did I think I could make it through a 2 hour flight without snacks?! I know. I could’ve purchased snacks onboard, but paying for them didn’t sit well with my soul so I sat there, watching the awesome flight attendants in the galley in front of me eating Cheez-Its and M&Ms and at that moment, I knew that I failed myself and vowed to bring snacks onboard next time even if I wasn’t hungry at the gate. Lesson learned.

So that is my experience and those are my tips on making your ride on Spirit as comfy as possible! Do you fly ultra low-cost carriers or have you stayed away because of the extra fees? Are you ready to travel, but looking to avoid spending a lot on flights? There are ways to make it work!