Spirit is the king of a la carte fares. They promise cheap seats on direct flights but everything is extra, even paying for your ticket incurs a $15-20 convenience fee when you buy online. We decided we don’t want to pay that fee anymore and it is one of our favorite travel hacks.
Passenger Usage Charge
Whenever I see a “convenience” fee (concert tickets had these) I’d think, “it would be more convenient if I didn’t have to pay it.” In truth, Spirit’s convenience fee (called a “Passenger Usage Charge”) is perhaps more accurate than any other I have encountered. In order to process payments online conveniently, the carrier includes a fee that ranges from $15-20 each way.
The fee can be avoided, however, by purchasing the tickets in person at the airport. It’s rather inconvenient to do so, but possible.
Baked Into the Fare
We shop for most of our flights on Google.com/flights. It takes the best of ITA Software and puts it into an easy user interface without dealing with the OTAs unless you want to. As a result, the only way to advertise fares for sale in a booking engine is online and must include the fee, but with any fee that is said to be optional, there must be a way to avoid it. By going to the airport, passengers avoid this fee and, in my experience, I have found it to be a common procedure.
Therefore, if airfare is listed at $97 roundtrip on Spirit (before any extras), the flight can be booked at the airport for $57-67 roundtrip. Below is a sample flight from Pittsburgh to Fort Myers next week for $177 roundtrip including the fee baked into the price you see.
By clicking on taxes and fees through a search service or by going through to a purchase page on Spirit.com, the fee is stated and savings can be calculated. I have found that most flights are $19.95 in each direction. In reality, the itinerary above if purchased at the airport costs just $137 roundtrip instead of $177 purchased online.
Saving Hundreds Makes It Worth it
When I book direct flights from the Pittsburgh to Florida or points further south, I am usually booking for three people in my family. Every time I go to the airport to buy tickets (frankly, I am there often anyway) I save $90 per roundtrip. On a recent purchase run, I bought ten one-way tickets saving just under $200 compared to buying online. Out of $650 in online quotes, we spent just $460 on those ten segments.
My drive to the airport saved us 29% on the total cost of travel for what was already remarkably low fares. More than the savings, I enjoy beating the system in place a little though too – and it takes very little to ruin my mood when I secure $46 one-way flights out of the cold.
>Read More: My Unlikely Love Affair with Spirit Airlines
>Read More: The Southwest, No, The Spirit Effect
Have you bought Spirit tickets at the airport? Would you rather just buy them online and pay the convenience fee? Are you a lingering Spirit hater?