Is the Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat Worth It?

Jul 10, 2019

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What if you could fly in what is basically a domestic first class seat for 75% off? There must be a catch, right?

Well, sort of. Spirit Airlines Big Front Seats are located in the first couple of rows of its aircraft, and they are honestly… better than you’d think. Or rather, they are essentially the same as other domestic first class seats on most US airlines, but are available for a much cheaper price.

Spirit Airlines Big Front Seats are made of leather, have 36 inches of pitch and are 20 inches wide (according to SeatGuru). This means you have an additional six inches of legroom beyond Spirit’s standard seats. They are “pre-reclined”, meaning that you can’t recline them further.

Spirit Big Front Seats (Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)
Spirit Big Front Seats (Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)

To put this another way, on Spirit, you can have this:

Small seats to go along with "smaller" fares
(Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Or, you can have this:

(Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)

I’ve done both — multiple times. The easy advice to give is that yes, Spirit’s Big Front Seats are absolutely worth it. But, since that’s just too easy, I’ll be slightly more nuanced.

When Are Spirit Airlines Big Front Seats Worth It?

If the flight is short (two to three hours or less), you are on the smaller side and every dollar counts, maybe skip Spirit’s Big Front Seats if you just can’t justify the cost. For a family of four, a $45 Big Front Seat upgrade would result in $360 in additional charges, based on round-trip travel. Factor in that Spirit’s Big Front Seats still don’t get you any included bags, snacks, etc. and keeping that cash safely tucked in your wallet can sometimes make sense. After all, you are probably flying Spirit because it’s cheap, not because it’s comfortable.

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(Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)

On the other hand, it’s not just the seat that’s different up front with Spirit. Flying Spirit Airlines can make for very entertaining people-watching, but being in (extremely) close quarters with large numbers of people isn’t always the most relaxing vacation experience for every personality type.

I’ve found that when you fly in the Big Front Seats, you are often with small business owners and relatively frequent flyers who largely just put on their headphones and sleep or work (since the trays are actually large enough up there for a laptop). In other words, you skip the sociologically interesting element of Spirit, which may or may not matter to you.

spirit big front seats
Happy kids in Spirit’s Big Front Seats. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

How Much Does the Big Front Seat Cost

The price of a Big Front Seat upgrade varies. While you can see the number of available Big Front Seats when pricing out Spirit flights, you don’t see the actual upgrade price until much further in the booking process. In test searches, I’ve seen these upgrades start at around $20 per person on shorter flights and go as high as around $70 per person on longer flights.

Here’s a real life example.

A month from now, to fly from Houston to Las Vegas on a Friday night, Spirit Airlines wants $69 to fly in a small seat without a specific advance seat assignment (so you could land in a middle seat at check-in). Going for an assigned Big Front Seat would add $54, for a total of $124 for a pretty comfy ride to Vegas. (Be sure and use the best credit card for airfare when making your purchase.)

United wants $211 for the same route at about the same time on a Basic Economy fare that also wouldn’t come with an advance seat assignment. A regular economy ticket with a seat assignment on United costs $246 (twice the cost of a Spirit Big Front seat ticket). United’s domestic first class seat, which are basically the same as Spirit’s Big Front Seat, ring in on that flight at $435 — 3.5 times the cost of Spirit’s similar seat.

What does all of that tell me? It tells me that you can save real money over traditional air carriers’ cheapest economy tickets while still sitting in a much larger Spirit Big Front Seat. Of course, there are other trade-offs to factor into the equation when deciding to fly Spirit. (Though for what it is worth, Spirit’s current operational reliability is much better than it used to be.)

Bottom Line

You may not always need a larger seat to get where you’re going since sometimes the cheapest available ticket is the best one. However, if your budget can accommodate the added cost of a Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat, your back — and perhaps your mood — will thank you for the extra investment in the journey.

How do you decide when Spirit Airlines’ Big Front Seat is worth it?

Related reading:

Featured image by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy

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