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Some people think I’m a spoiled snob who only flies first class, but that is far from true, as I proved last summer when I flew Ryanair from Brindisi to Rome and had a great experience. As much as I love first class and frequent flyer miles, I value my time more. So whenever a low-cost carrier can get me from point A to point B faster and cheaper — and in relative comfort — I am totally down.

When I wanted to leave Havana, Cuba, three hours earlier during a recent trip and didn’t have enough time to make the earlier American Airlines flight, my next best option was to fly Spirit Airlines from Havana to Ft. Lauderdale — or “Laudardale” as the check-in sign indicated. While I’ve heard many horrible things and the carrier’s constantly ranked as one of the worst airlines in the US by a variety of metrics (even in our own data-based survey) I really wanted to get home and have a nice, relaxing afternoon in Miami since I would be heading to Europe the next day.

Spirit
Spirit’s check-in screen at the Havana Airport with some questionable spelling.

Setting the Scene

I had just spent the weekend in Cuba celebrating my birthday with friends. Havana was amazing but come Sunday, I was ready to go home. Hoping to arrive back in Florida nice and early, I had to book my ticket at the last minute — like, really last-minute — specifically, 90 minutes before my flight, and was able to score one for as little as $16 one-way from Havana (HAV) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Similar one-way flights on American Airlines cost around $150 with departure times that are later in the afternoon, so this was a great option. My fare ended up totaling $145.46, but that’s because I decided to choose my own seat — which really worked out to my benefit — and bring along a carry-on bag.

I really like that Spirit breaks down their fare and shows you everything that you
I really like how Spirit breaks down its fares and shows you everything you’re paying for.

6 Reasons Why I Loved My Spirit Flight

  1. The ticket was cheap, making it easy to pay for my carry-on bag and choose a preferred seat. If you don’t care about those things, you’d still end up saving significantly more over a legacy carrier by flying with Spirit.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, you have to pay for specific seats, so I splurged and paid $35 to select mine and chose a roomy exit row — in comparison, on American, it would have cost $28 to choose an exit row seat. Since Spirit lacks an elite loyalty program, it means there are no free seat upgrades, so I ended up with the exit row all to myself (On AA, elite members almost always fill up the exit rows since they’re free).
  3. Spirit also sports “pre-reclined seats,” which means you can’t recline into anyone. Although this may sound ridiculous, for a tall person like me, this is a great thing and I didn’t have anyone cramming their seat-back pocket against my knees.
  4. This airline charges for everything, and I mean everything. Although being nickeled and dimed is annoying, it actually worked out in my favor this time around — American only offers limited beverage service on this route, with food totally unavailable for purchase, but because Spirit wants to squeeze every dollar out of its customers, it’ll actually sell food on the 45-minute long flight, giving me the opportunity to purchase a light snack to get me through the journey.
  5. The service itself was great, with friendly and efficient flight attendants who completed a full service with time to spare on the short flight.
  6. While Spirit is known for having one of the worst on-time arrival rates in the industry, my flight left when scheduled and completed the journey almost 30 minutes ahead of time.

Overall Impression

Even though Spirit ranked last on our list of Best US Airlines and I hear people’s horror stories about flying with the airline all the time, I thrived! Now, this doesn’t mean I’m endorsing the carrier, but I try to call it like it is; it got me from A to B safely, on time and for a lot less money. I don’t know if I’ll be flying it again anytime in the future but it’s definitely an airline that’s on my radar, especially if I need to snag a cheap ticket in a pinch. Check out the video at the top of the page to see my Snapchats from the flight.

Have you ever flown with Spirit before? Were the cheap fares worth it? Tell us about your experience, below.

Featured Image courtesy of Spirit.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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