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How I strategically saved 40% on Spirit's Big Front Seat upgrade

Oct. 12, 2021
4 min read
Spirit Big Front Seat
How I strategically saved 40% on Spirit's Big Front Seat upgrade
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Thanks to frequent fare sales and a plethora of promotional offers, it's quite easy to find a deal on a Spirit Airlines flight.

In fact, I flew the airline's inaugural domestic flight from Miami to Newark last week, and the mid-morning Wednesday departure cost just $22.90.

Though it's a great deal on paper, Spirit, like its ultra-low-cost rivals, charges separately for all ancillary fees, including seat assignments, carry-on bags, and flight changes. These extras vary in price depending on the route, day of travel and other factors, and they don't go on sale or get discounted as flight fares do.

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That's why I was especially curious when I received an email after booking my Newark flight with the headline "you're just a few clicks away from a super comfy ride at a super comfy price."

(Screenshot courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

I've recently been flying with Spirit more than ever, and have really enjoyed my flights in the airline's Big Front Seat. Each of the carrier's yellow Airbus jets is outfitted with a handful of domestic first-class recliners arranged in a 2-2 configuration, available for roughly the same cost of an extra-legroom coach seat on major network airlines.

The extra width and added legroom of the Big Front Seat make flying with Spirit so much more comfortable. This year, I've exclusively flown in the first two rows on my three Spirit flights.

However, I originally decided to forgo paying for a seat assignment on my Newark flight. After all, the flight cost just $23, and I couldn't justify paying $55 — double the flight price — for a Big Front Seat upgrade for the three-hour journey.

So, when I received the email about scoring access to a discount upfront seat, I wanted to learn more. Turns out, Spirit has contracted PlusGrade, a digital upgrade solution platform, to allow travelers to submit bids for better seats.

Spirit's Big Front Seat offers both extra legroom and a surprising amount of comfort. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If Spirit can't fill its Big Front Seats at the going rate of $55, why not make some money on them instead of leaving them empty?

That's where PlusGrade comes in. The service allows flyers to make bids for either a Big Front Seat or an exit row. All these seats were vacant at the time the email came through, so I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

I decided to bid the lowest possible offer, $34 or roughly 40% off the going rate, for the Big Front Seat. I was then told to expect an email between 48 hours and two hours before departure informing me of the outcome of my bid. I couldn't specify my preferred seat (the window), but I could submit separate bids for the Big Front Seat or the exit row (I only submitted for the former).

Related: Is the Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat worth it?

In the coming days, I monitored the seat map. Six of the eight Big Front Seats remained unoccupied, so I was confident about my bid, despite the fact that it was labeled as having "poor" odds of being accepted.

Had more seats been occupied, I probably would've increased my bid by a few dollars, since you can modify or cancel your bid until two days before departure.

Forty-eight hours before my flight, I hadn't heard anything from Spirit. There were still six unoccupied recliners available for sale, so I had a good feeling.

Lo and behold, I woke up the day before my flight with an email from Spirit congratulating me on the bid being accepted. I quickly refreshed my reservation to see that I was assigned seat 1C, a bulkhead aisle — my least favorite type of seat. A 30-minute call to the airline's reservation team got me moved to my preferred seat, a window in the second row.

(Screenshot courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

For $34, a $21 savings compared to the going rate, I was happy with my purchase. Sure it still cost more than the flight itself, but it made my inflight experience much more pleasant.

And at $57 all-in for the flight and a first-class recliner, I'd call that a big win in my book.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases