Tips for Flying Spirit Airlines

Let’s be honest, everybody THINKS they are too good to fly Spirit. But nobody (unless rich, wealthy, or otherwise financially free-spirited) is above flying Spirit.

The first time I flew Spirit was on a flight to Miami (I mean ummmm, Fort Lauderdale). The flight costs $60 round-trip (yes, you read that right)! It was during the week, a Thursday until Saturday. At that time I was working in a role where you could “work from home” pretty much when you wanted to unless you were new to the organization. I’d had a lot of goodwill built up with my boss so I decided I would work from what was then, my “home away from home” because I went to South Beach pretty often back then.

My plan was to go down on Thursday night, hang out that night, work Friday until I was done every that “had to be done” on Friday (aka “as soon as that last meeting was over”) and come back Saturday morning. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Who the hell leaves Miami on Saturday morning to come home?!” And the answer is, ME. And YOU TOO if you were in Miami trying to ball on a budget lol.

That context is important, especially the ballin’ on a budget part. Spirit Airlines is 100% for people trying to ball on a budget. Or at least get somewhere for the low and then ball out. I actually think that’s one of the GREAT things about Spirit Airlines, they have enabled thousands of people who probably wouldn’t otherwise have been able to fit a Caribbean or cross-country flight into their budget, the ability to travel to and enjoy some really amazing destinations both inside and outside of the country! I know you’re probably thinking “Who, if they saved money, couldn’t afford to go to Miami or one of the cheaper Caribbean islands?” And that’s a GREAT and valid point. But consider this:

  • Not everyone is disciplined enough to save. Some people just spend when they get the impetus/inspiration. Think about your friend that is always traveling, posting pics on Instagram, telling you about people they met on vacation and what they did, and you have been itching to go with them just once. You might say screw it, I’m gonna just buy this flight to Montego Bay so I can go with him/her and see what it’s like.
  • Not everyone has as much money as you think they do and not everybody manages money as well as you may think (see the last bullet point for an example of the latter). Some people have more bills than Kevin Hart has jokes and can’t fathom trying to squeeze in a vacation let alone the flight. Others may have money but simply don’t value travel as much as some of us do! If you’re like me, you have friends that would rather stay in their hometown area, hit their usual bar/lounge/whatever spot, and they don’t put an emphasis on making sure they travel. To each his/her own, right?

I say all that to say, for those that fall into one of those categories above or straddle both, Spirit can help them save money on flight costs that they might not be able to afford if they went with another major and more established carrier. I mean think about it, even Southwest has been nudging their prices up over the past few years after they implemented no baggage fees. Nowadays, comparing prices on Southwest vs Spirit for the same dates and destination can shock you because Southwest might be $100+ more.

With all that said and because I have flown Spirit many times, I put together a couple lists for those considering or about to fly Spirit:

Things to know BEFORE you book:

  • The price you see online is ultimately not the price you will pay unless you can pack everything you need into that designer backpack you are about to carry on a BUDGET. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a fake (or authentic) designer backpack or luggage on a Spirit flight I might actually be able to afford one.
  • The $9 Fare Club is a complete joke. They pitch it hard on their website but don’t fall for it. I honestly cannot think of a scenario in which it’s worth the annual fee. You’re paying for an annual membership on an airline that you may not use every time you fly that saves you $9 per bag on baggage fees and $9 on the litany of other fees they charge or “add-ons” they offer. I’m sure there have to be other ways this is pitched to seem like a great value but for me, I haven’t seen the benefit. I usually just assume I’m going to pay an extra $100 round-trip for my baggage on top of whatever the price is.
  • You are going to be charged amounts that seem high and for things that you didn’t realize would even be tossed out there. The baggage fees are high and carry-ons actually cost more than checked bags. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind the pricing logic here but I’m sure there has to be one, right? Paying to board the plane quicker when you will have an assigned seat also seems like a bit of a money grab. Nobody is rushing onto a flight to make sure there’s enough overhead bin space, they can check that bag at the gate if you can’t fit it anywhere on the flight.
  • If you want a good seat, you’re going to have to pay for it! This isn’t Southwest where you can have a companion/friend that’s boarding high in the A group save you that exit row seat even if you are C59. Nope, you can’t do that. You have to pay for that seat you want or you will be auto-assigned, which sometimes isn’t bad but oftentimes it’s the middle seat of course. They actually try to offset the crappiness of being auto-assigned a middle seat by having a sweepstakes on their flights for all middle seat passengers where one lucky person wins 5,000 Free Spirit miles. Which can get you a roundtrip ticket, sort of. The 5,000 miles you win allegedly cover a roundtrip ticket but only if it’s an off-peak route on select days between two cities that are pretty darn close to one-another. Glad you sat in that middle seat, aren’t ya?
  • Be careful with flights with connections! Almost all of the nonstop flights I have taken on Spirit have gone just fine. I get on, order my double rum and coke, complain to myself again about booking a flight with no wifi, then I put on some music and try to sleep a little. But connections with Spirit can get dangerous! If you can avoid them (as with any airline really), make sure you do!
  • No WIFI. That’s self-explanatory. Just plan for it.
  • If anything goes wrong you are going to be mad. After you talk to the Spirit staff, you are going be PISSED! Not because they don’t want to help but mainly because they all seem NOT TO understand how to empathize with someone in your position. In my experience they tend to just follow whatever handbook for fucked-up customer service Spirit leadership hands out at orientation. Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of pleasant and wonderful Spirit employees across the country and in other countries but whatever internal protocols and policies they have for accommodating stranded passengers is really horrible.

Things to know AFTER you book:

  • Make sure you keep your checked baggage under 40lbs unless you want to pay a fee. And note, if you’re traveling somewhere for more than 3 days (or you’re just a heavy packer) 40 lbs may pretty low.
  • Pay for your bags (if you haven’t already) before you get to the airport! Paying for bags at the airport during check-in means you’ll pay exorbitant prices.
  • If you are flying internationally, this is one airline where you probably do need to arrive at the airport 3 hours early. Take my word for it.
  • If you’re flying domestically, an hour and a half is sufficient. Their bag tagging process is pretty straightforward but the lines to drop your bag off can be maddening!
  • Make sure you check-in online beforehand. There’s a Spirit app too but it’s janky at best, don’t waste your time.
  • Remember, THERE IS NO WIFI! I cannot stress this enough.

Things to know AT THE AIRPORT:

  • Self-tag your bag and print your boarding pass. Yes, I realize you may have used the app for your boarding pass or gotten your boarding pass via email but don’t trust it. I was turned around at security returning home from Las Vegas once to return and get a paper boarding pass from Spirit. I still don’t know why!
  • There’s a damn good chance your flight might board a lil late. Just accept it.
  • There’s a solid chance you might need to wear your Yeezys to run to that connecting flight. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee but I am saying you might want to wear something a lil easier to sprint in than those Gucci flip flips!
  • You are going to see a lot of expensive carry-on bags and wonder: “If you can afford that… Why you flying on this airline?”

At the end of the day, flying is not about the journey it’s about the destination! When you’re traveling for vacation (or mostly any other scenario) you usually aren’t concerned with the most lavish and luxurious experience getting there. You obviously don’t want a crappy experience and you want to arrive safely but remember that paying more for your transportation doesn’t get you there any earlier! So when you’re flying on an airline like Spirit just remember that you need to plan ahead based on the list above and set your expectations accordingly. If you do that, you might not hate the idea (or experience) of flying Spirit so much!

Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck vs Clear

Picture this, you’re on your way back from a vacation somewhere outside of the United States. There are a few hundred people walking quickly to get to Customs so they start their trek back home. About 90% of the people on your flight get into one line to get through Customs but you notice that there are few people going to those kiosks to the side then walking up to an almost empty (separate) Customs line, talking to the Customs officer briefly, then breezing through. All this, while you wait in line behind about 100+ people.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Those folks going to the kiosks, they have Global Entry. This also means that they have TSA PreCheck. Confusing? Let us explain.

Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and more recently Clear, are all programs targeted at making your travel life easier. Below we outline the benefits of each and make a few recommendations.

TSA PreCheck:

TSA PreCheck allows you to “skip the line” at airport security (aka TSA). Most airports now have at least one dedicated TSA PreCheck line where they check your digital (or print) boarding pass for the TSA PreCheck logo and if you have it, you typically get through security a little bit faster. No taking your shoes, belt, or hat off. No need to take your laptop out of your bag. It’s like the VIP line at your favorite club in the hood but you can go through the metal detectors without emptying your pockets.

The biggest drawback to the program is that you apply online, pay a non-refundable fee, and then you  have to do an in-person interview (“background check”) where you’re asked a few silly questions that you simply answer truthfully and you’re good-to-go.

From there, you will be issued a Known Traveler Number (KTN) and you can enter this when making flight bookings and (participating airlines) will then include the TSA PreCheck logo on your boarding pass.

Cost: $85

Duration: 5 years

Global Entry:

This is the program you MUST ENROLL IN if you travel out of the country “frequently” (more than 3 times per year). Global Entry gets you quick access back into the USA (and entry into some other countries) without having to wait in long lines at Customs. The way it works is, you walk up to a Global Entry kiosk, scan your passport, scan your fingerprints, answer a few questions, and the kiosk takes a picture of you and prints it out on a slip that you take to the Customs agent before being let back into the U.S. It all takes about 5-10 minutes to get yourself back into the country rather than waiting in a long line to clear Customs. AND, you don’t have to fill out that silly declarations form on your flight!

The biggest drawback to the program (just like TSA PreCheck) is that you apply online, pay the fee, and go through an in-person interview/background check. Another somewhat annoying drawback is that at times, you can clear Customs so quickly that you beat your luggage to the baggage claim. Which means that you could potentially be waiting at baggage claim so long that you’re there when everyone that went through normal Customs line clears Customs. It’s a little annoying but it also depends on the airport you’re coming home to and the airline you’re traveling on (hey Spirit, is that you?). The biggest and most overwhelming advantage of this program however, is that you get TSA PreCheck built in for only $15 more!

Cost: $100

Duration: 5 years

Clear:

Clear is the latest program to enter the “make your airport experience less of a pain” space. It allows you to literally skip the line altogether at airport security. JUST THE LINE THOUGH, not the actual security cheeck! The way this program works is that you go to a Clear kiosk near the security line entrance, scan your eye (sounds fun, right) and your fingerprint. From there, a Clear team representative escorts you to the front of the security line right to the person that checks your ID and boarding pass. You will still have to go through security though so you may want to combine Clear with TSA PreCheck. Clear is slowly being adopted in various airports across the country.

Cost: $179/year and you can add family members for $50/year

Duration: Annually renewable

Our Recommendations:

  • Get Global Entry whether you travel internationally on a regular basis or not. It comes with TSA PreCheck and if you’re going to sit through the TSA PreCheck background check you may as well get Global Entry, just in case you decide you wanna venture out of the country at some point.
  • If you don’t care to travel outside the United States, TSA PreCheck is just fine.
  • At $179/year just to skip the line, Clear is probably not worth it. I will admit however that I came super close to missing a flight once, paid for Clear just to skip the to the front of the security line, barely made my flight, landed, and promptly called and cancelled Clear the same day (no refund though). I’m not saying that in a pinch you should pay $179 for Clear (effectively adding $179 to your flight cost) and then cancel the same day, but ummm yeah it saved me having to pay for another flight later that same day or arrive later than I wanted/had to.

In general, if you travel frequently it makes sense to enroll in one or more of these programs to help make your airport experience more seamless. Air travel is much less about the journey to get to your destination than it is about your destination, but making your journey to your destination as painless as possible always helps!

Upcoming Trip – Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic NY, June 2020

Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

It’s a polo match. It’s a party. It’s a champagne tasting. It’s a fashion show! This event covers a LOT of bases and surprisingly, does it EXTREMELY WELL! Held on the first weekend in June 2020, this event is technically a polo match but SO MUCH MORE!

If you’re looking for a GREAT event to end spring and start off your summer, this is it!

We’re offering several different packages for this event including round-trip bus transportation if you’re in the DMV area!

Click here to get full information including packages we’re offering, event information, and deposit information.

Upcoming Trip – New Orleans, February 2020

This February we’re partnering with At Your Own Pace Running Club to provide accommodations for their group trip to NAWLINS for the Rock & Roll Marathon Race Weekend. Some people will do a 5k fun run, others will participate in the 10k, half marathon, or (YIKES) full marathon.

And others are just going to New Orleans to have a GREAT TIME (no running required)!

Accommodations are at the Higgins Hotel New Orleans and rooms can be booked for any dates between February 6th and 10th. Rooms start at $300 per night per room and rates are subject to change based on time of booking.

Note: Room rates do NOT include airfare

Click here for more information…

Upcoming Trip – Montego Bay, January 2020

We are hosting an MLK weekend (Jan 16-20) trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

YEA MON!!!

Rooms are still available at the Hotel Riu Montego Bay (all-inclusive) starting at $1,468 per room ($734/person, double occupancy). The cost does NOT include airfare but does include round-trip shuttle, $35 spa credit, all food/drinks, and all taxes and fees.

Click here if you’re interested in booking a last-minute MLK getaway!!!

The Benefits of Working with a Travel Agency for Group Travel

If you’ve been to this website before or have had the pleasure of traveling with us, you probably know that we specialize in group travel. For those of you that don’t really know what we mean by specializing in “group” travel, here’s the deal…

When we first started this business, the inspiration came from a group fundraiser we attended that just so happened to be a group cruise. The goal of the cruise was to raise money for a non-profit organization that was hosting the cruise. The group was medium in size (roughly 20-30 people) and the ages ranged from early twenties to people in their fifties. That might sound like a huge age range but everybody was super cool, easy-going, and just wanted to have fun and enjoy their vacation.

When we returned home from the cruise, we thought “Man, we can probably get about 20 people to go on a cruise and host it ourselves!” That was the genesis of what has now become Travelitis LLC!

The next year, we planned our first cruise (a group cruise to a few Caribbean islands) and it was a hit! After that trip we decided to find out how to incorporate and make this vision we had into a business. Fast-forward a couple more cruises as “coordinators/hosts” and we finally incorporated in 2013 as Travelitis LLC. With that milestone achieved, we began marketing ourselves as a travel agency. And that’s where we had to make a quick decision on our direction.

We were not aware at the time, but planning group travel and planning individual or couples travel has some similarities but lots of differences as well. Group travel typically means you have a group of people that all want to go to the same place and at pretty much the same time, although they may be coming from different places. Single travelers and couples that travel usually know where they want to go but dates can be flexible based on cost, flight timing, work schedules, etc. With that in mind, we decided 2 things early:

  1. We wanted to specialize in groups because, based on our experience, we found that having a group (let’s say a group is at least 10 people) allows people to travel with others they feel comfortable around. Or, in the case of a mixed group (people that don’t all know each other), it allows people to make new friends. That latter example is WHAT WE STRIVE TO ENABLE.
  2. We wanted to not only plan group travel for our clients but we also wanted to plan and host trips ourselves. If you take a look at our website you will see that we plan about 3-5 group trips per year at a minimum. The goal is to give our current and past clients the opportunity to meet new people and also to have the same great vacation experiences we’ve always aimed to provide.

We’ve always felt like these two decisions have helped us differentiate ourselves from other travel agencies in that we want to provide people with memorable vacations around good people whether they know everyone or not.

The 3rd thing that we decided back in 2013 was that we would leverage technology to provide our clients with the most seamless experience from booking travelers, to payment installments, and group communication up until their departure. With that goal in mind, we make it a point to offer all of our clients webpages that include all the information about their group trip, allows travelers to make payments securely online (without having to provide us with their credit card information), and serves as a place for travelers within their group to communicate about their trip.

We’ve always known that the excitement about a group trip is heightened when travelers in the group are chatting it up leading up to the trip. We want to enable this camaraderie and excitement and we want our travelers to be able to do this in a modern way, ONLINE!

This post went the long way to explaning part of our mission. We want to provide great group travel experiences in a modern and seamless way that facilitates and encourages relationship-building, world discovery, and lifelong memories!