The Most Common Questions About Spirit Airlines Answered

Traveling is expensive, and if you're like most people, you're always looking for a way to cut costs. If you're considering one of Spirit Airlines' ultra-low fares, you might wonder what the airline is all about and what you can expect. 

According to the company website, Spirit Airlines' business model is to make it possible for as many people as possible to travel and visit places as frequently as they can. One of the ways it does this is by offering an a la carte pricing experience in which you pay for your base fare, then only pay extra for what you really need. It also boasts its "Fit Fleet®" planes, which Spirit claims are younger and more fuel efficient than any other U.S. carrier, offering service to over 90 destinations in the U.S. Latin America, and the Caribbean. Many of Spirit's practices and policies are similar to any other U.S. carrier, but a few may be new to you, such as some unique charges and the lack of some in-flight services. Here, we've short-listed everything you need to know about flying Spirit Airlines so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not this is the airline for you.

How do I book my flight and get my boarding pass?

Online is the most common way people book their air travel tickets these days, and in most cases, there isn't an extra charge for that convenience. However, Spirit Airlines is a bit different. If you want to book your ticket from home, you'll have to pay an additional fee, called a passenger usage fee, of up to $22.99 (via The Points Guy). If you want to book your ticket by phone with an agent, you'll be charged $35 (via Upgraded Points). To bypass these fees, you can make a trip to the airport and buy your ticket there. Depending on how far you live from the airport, that might not make sense. However, if you are booking for a group, you can save a lot of cash by hopping in the car. 

When it's time to check in, you'll save money by checking in online for free up to 24 hours before your departure (via Spirit Airlines). You can also print your boarding pass at a kiosk at the airport. If you want to check in with an agent, you'll likely have a longer wait, and you'll be charged $25 to print each boarding pass. Some people won't be able to check in online, such as those traveling with pets or an infant on their lap, group reservations of 10 or more, or minors traveling alone. In these cases, the ticket counter check-in fee is not applicable.

Do I have to pay for a seat?

If you're one of those laid-back types who doesn't care where they sit, Spirit is the airline for you. You'll randomly be assigned a seat at no additional cost when you check in. However, if you want an aisle seat, or you want to sit with the fam, you'll have to pay extra to choose your seat in advance. Seat availability and costs vary according to the route and the aircraft. You'll be able to see what's available on your flight and choose your location at the time of booking.

If you want to stretch out on your flight, you can choose a Big Front Seat, which has more legroom, a wider seat, and no middle seat (via Spirit Airlines). This is Spirit Airlines' version of first class. You can also choose a Deluxe Leather Seat, located behind the Big Front Seats. These have up to 32% less legroom than a Big Front Seat, but the seats are, well, made out of leather. As an example, on a flight from Seattle to Las Vegas, a Big Front Seat cost $40 and a Deluxe Leather Seat cost $18 (via NerdWallet). An exit row seat was $20, and other seats were available for $12 and $14.

Can I change or cancel my reservation?

Spirit Airlines has a straightforward policy for returns and cancellations. You can cancel any reservation fee-free and receive a full refund to your original method of payment within 24 hours of booking, as long as your flight is at least seven days away (via Spirit Airlines). If your flight is 60 or more days away, you are eligible for a fee-free cancellation or modification. From seven to 59 days prior to your trip, you will be charged $49 for changes/cancellations. And for changes or cancellations made within seven days of departure, the fee is $99. Cancellations that are not eligible for a full refund to the original form of payment will be refunded as a reservation credit to be used for future travel. If you change your flight and your new flight is more expensive, you will need to pay the difference in fare; if the flight is less expensive, you will be refunded via a flight credit. 

You have several options for how to cancel or modify your flight. You can do it online by visiting the Spirit Airlines MyTrips page and entering your name and confirmation number. You can also do it via online chat, or by calling the customer service number, via text, WhatsApp message, and even through direct message on social media. You can also speak to a service agent at the airport. 

What should I know about traveling with kids?

When you're planning a family vacation, you probably want to know what perks or discounts airlines offer for children that could help you cut costs. When it comes to Spirit Airlines, the answer is, none. According to the Spirit website, it doesn't offer any discounts to anyone because its fares are already much lower than other airlines. However, infants aged seven days to 23 months can fly for free on your lap, although you may purchase a separate seat for them if you'd like (you must bring an FAA-approved child restraint system). You should add a lap child when you are booking your ticket online or via a customer service agent (via Spirit Airlines). Note that only one lap child is permitted per guest, and they are not allowed to sit in emergency exit rows or in the rows directly in front of or behind exit rows. They also are not permitted in seats with inflatable seat belts.

You may bring on board for free your child's car seat as long as it is FAA-approved and you have booked a separate seat for your child. Car seats are also not permitted in emergency exit rows and surrounding rows or in seats with inflatable seat belts. You should double-check the seat sizes for your specific aircraft and flight to make sure that your car seat fits. If not, airline staff may be able to make accommodations and reseat you, but it is not guaranteed. You are also allowed one stroller for no extra charge aboard the aircraft. 

Can minors fly unaccompanied?

If you want to ship the kids to grandma's house for spring break, and have a nice break for yourself, you'll be happy to know that for an extra $100, kids can fly solo on Spirit Airlines as unaccompanied minors as long as they are at least 5 years old (via NerdWallet and Spirit Airlines). Unaccompanied minors are only allowed to fly domestically (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) on non-stop flights. Rest assured, they will be cared for on board and will be offered a drink and a snack. When you make the reservation, you must specify that the booking is for an unaccompanied minor, and you must accompany them to the airport and check-in at the ticket counter at least one hour before their flight. 

At check-in, you will be asked to fill out a form specifying the person who will pick up the child at the arrival destination and provide your photo ID. You will then be provided with a gate pass that will allow you to bring them through security and to the gate. You must remain at the gate with the child through boarding and until 15 minutes post-takeoff. At the child's destination, the pick-up person must also obtain a gate pass to meet the child at the gate. Children are only considered unaccompanied minors under the age of 15. Children 15 and older can fly solo the same as adults. 

What in-flight amenities are offered?

In order to keep its prices low, Spirit Airlines doesn't offer much in the way of bells and whistles, and almost anything extra you need while on board will cost extra. Free Spirit rewards program members are eligible to receive a free snack and non-alcoholic beverage. Otherwise, Spirit has an a la carte "Sips + Snacks" menu that features hot drinks, sodas, juices, and bottled water, as well as beer, wine, and spirits; and a variety of sweet and savory snacks and snack boxes (via Spirit Airlines). No fresh foods are available. 

There also isn't any in-flight entertainment, so you'll need to bring your own. However, per the company website, Spirit Airlines boasts the fastest on-board Wifi experience of all the U.S.-based carriers. This means you can surf, stream, and chat to your heart's content. Wifi access starts at $2.99 if you just want to browse the web and use email and chat services. If you want to watch movies using high-speed internet that's 20 times faster than the browsing speeds, that plan starts at $5.99. Costs are flight-specific and depend on the length of your flight. Be sure to bring your devices fully charged because the seats don't have power or USB charging ports (via CheapAir).

Can I travel with my pet?

If you can't bear to travel without your four-legged BFF, you may be able to take them with you on your next Spirit Airlines flight. However, your furry friend's options are a bit more limited than on many other major U.S. carriers. Spirit doesn't allow pets to travel as cargo, they're only allowed in the cabin (via Spirit Airlines). Therefore, your pal has to meet certain size requirements to be able to travel. They must be able to fit in a soft-sided carrier small enough to fit under the seat, or no more than 18"L x 14"W x 9"H, and they must be able to comfortably sit, stand, and turn around. Additionally, the combined weight of the carrier plus furry or feathered friend can't exceed 40 pounds. Pets must be at least eight weeks of age and no longer nursing, and they must stay inside the carrier for the duration of the flight.

Domestic dogs and cats are allowed on all domestic flights, including to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Small pet birds and rabbits are allowed on all domestic flights except those to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Spirit doesn't allow any pets on international flights. You should make your pet's reservation when you make your own because there is a limit of six carriers per flight. You will also need to check in in person at the ticket counter. No online check-in, self-service, or curbside check-in is available for people traveling with pets. 

Can I travel with my service animal?

Trained service animals are welcome on all Spirit Airlines domestic and international flights with the proper paperwork to be completed 48 hours in advance of departure (via Spirit Airlines). If you can't complete the form ahead of time, you can bring it with you to the ticket counter when you check-in. However, you are encouraged to allow extra time for your form to be reviewed and approved. Furthermore, Spirit Airlines states that any other species besides dogs used for emotional support, comfort, companionship, and therapy will not meet the criteria to travel onboard as a service animal. All other animals are considered pets and must travel as companion animals per the pet travel policy. 

Your service animal must be well-behaved and not exhibit any behavior that could be disruptive in the cabin, such as growling, lunging, barking, biting, jumping on guests, and relieving itself inside the aircraft or airport (other than in designated areas). Service dogs can't sit in an emergency row or in a seat with an inflatable seat belt. They must be able to fit within your foot space on the floor of your seat or sit in your lap. You can purchase an extra seat or upgrade to a larger seat if your service animal needs additional space.

Are flights accessible for people with disabilities and allergies?

Passengers with disabilities are entitled to a variety of rights under the Air Carrier Access Act. For guests who are mobile but require assistance navigating to or from the gate, Spirit Airlines offers a free Meet and Assist service (via Spirit Airlines). This service is aimed at people who are deaf or hard of hearing or who are blind or have low vision. Gate passes can also be provided to friends or family who can assist you to your gate. If you are in a wheelchair, onboard wheelchair assistance can help you find your seat after boarding the airplane. Wheelchair-accessible lavatories are offered on Spirit's Airbus 320 and 321 aircraft. Guests are allowed to use Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs) on board as long as they are FAA-approved. Battery-powered wheelchairs are also allowed, however, special preparation is required and passengers are advised to arrive at least two hours before departure (via Spirit Airlines).

For passengers with allergies, there is no guarantee of an allergen-free flight. Passengers with severe allergies are recommended to warn agents and crew after arriving at the airport and during the trip so that steps can be taken to ensure a safe voyage. However, guests should take precautions and be prepared for potential allergen exposure. Spirit does sell peanuts on board but can create a peanut-free zone, in which they will not sell peanuts in the rows in front or behind you for the duration of the trip. Guests with severe pet allergies will also be accommodated and moved away from animals when possible (via Spirit Airlines).

What are the baggage fees and limitations?

Passengers are allowed one free personal item, such as a laptop bag, purse, or small backpack (via Spirit Airlines). You can also bring an umbrella, camera, infant diaper bag, coat, hat, wrap, reading materials, assistive devices, and food at no extra charge. All other personal items, carry-on bags, and checked luggage costs extra. 

A personal item must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches, and carry-on luggage must not be larger than 22 x 18 x 10 inches (via Spirit Airlines). Checked bags should be a maximum of 62 linear inches (length + width + height) and weigh no more than 40 pounds. Bags larger or heavier than this are considered oversized and will be charged an extra fee. Bags weighing more than 100 pounds or measuring more than 80 linear inches aren't accepted. 

Carry-on and checked luggage prices will vary depending on your flight and area cheapest when paid for at booking. As an example, on a flight from Seattle to Las Vegas, a carry-on bag was $35, the first checked bag was $33, and the second checked bag was $42 (via NerdWallet). However, when paid for at the airport, the prices increase as much as $32 each. If you need to check overweight or oversized luggage, you'll have to pay up to an additional $150, depending on the size (via Spirit Airlines). Sporting equipment may be considered as checked luggage or oversized luggage depending on the size and weight.

Does Spirit have a rewards program?

Free Spirit is the name of Spirit Airlines frequent flyer program, in which guests earn points for dollars spent instead of miles flown (via Spirit Airlines). You can use these points to buy seats on any flight with no blackout dates, and you can also use points for partner products and services. You can earn double points for things like cruises, dining, and vacations. And, as long as you're actively earning or redeeming points within a 12-month period, your points won't expire. You can also pool your points with up to eight friends or family members to earn points faster as a group and track member contributions and usage online. For even more benefits, you can apply for a Free Spirit credit card to earn more points faster. 

The Spirit Saver$ Club is a separate membership and replaces the airline's $9 Fare Club (via Upgraded Points). Membership costs $69.95 at the time of publication and gives you access to exclusive low fares, discounts on bags, seats, and other options such as priority boarding (via Spirit Airlines).