Spirit Airlines Tickets Are Cheaper if You Buy Them at the Airport

Here's how and why you can save a little money flying Spirit.

An employee holds a sign to direct travellers at the Spirit Airlines Inc. ticket counter at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL)
Photo: Saul Martinez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Spirit Airlines has a widely known reputation for bare-bones flying. Travelers can assume that buying a ticket on Spirit might mean smaller seats, less room for belongings, and flight delays — but it also means they're traveling for hundreds of dollars less than with other airlines.

But what some travelers may not know is that there is a way to fly with Spirit that can save them even more money. Buying tickets at the airport can actually save passengers around $23 per ticket each way. In some cases, that's almost half the fare.

Here's how it works. Back in 2017, the travel tips site One Mile at a Time pointed out that Spirit charges an $18.99 "passenger usage" fee, which only applies to booking online or by phone, and does not apply to booking at the counter at the airport.

"Why would Spirit do this? Because airlines don't have to pay the 7.5% federal excise tax on fees. They only pay this on airfare, and technically the $18.99 'passenger usage charge' is a fee," the site explains.

The fee has now gone up to $22.99 each way. So, consumers can avoid this fee by booking in person. If you're a family of four, this can mean a savings of over $185 round trip.

Unfortunately, if you really want to fly on Spirit comfortably, you might have to spend some of that money you saved, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Spirit charges passengers to choose their seats, which is not great for families who want to sit together. The airline is also notorious for charging for carry-ons as well as checked bags. Let's hope you're traveling light.

But if you do want to rest comfortably, Lifehacker suggests you go ahead and splurge on a seat that's over or in front of the wing of the plane. It also doesn't hurt to bring your own in-flight entertainment (there will be none on board), as well as a sleeping mask and earplugs to drown out any noisy neighbors.

It's also highly recommended you pay for your bags as soon as you book, since Spirit charges a lot more to check bags at the gate. Fees for checked bags can range between $30 and $100.

Even though you might get hit with fees elsewhere, saving a little where you can is always welcome when you fly.

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