Spirit Air is an ultra low-cost airline that’s earned a bit of bad rap, some of it well-deserved. Its 28-inch pitch is the worst in the industry, and they charge for just about everything on board. However, Spirit’s burning desire to upsell extra services can be used to your advantage.
For a small fee you can get a seat that by just about every measure is first-class quality. Spirit’s calls it the Big Front Seat.
How Good is the Big Front Seat?
It’s as good as any major airlines’ domestic first class seat with the exception of lie-flat seats found on some transcontinental flights between th east and west coasts. It’s a typical domestic first-class quality reclining seat with a great width and lots of legroom. The only difference between the Spirit’s Big Front Seat and a domestic first-class seat on American, Delta, or United is that you don’t get free food and drinks.
How Much Does it Cost to Sit There?
Cost generally depends on two factors.
- Whether you upgrade online or at the airport
- The length of the flight
Spirit may sell you a Big Front Seat upgrade at the airport much cheaper than their online price. However, this approach is risky. They only have four to eight Big Front Seats on a plane, so if they are already filled, you’re out of luck.
Booking a Big Front Seat on an Award Ticket
Spirit has pretty good saver award levels, so if you live in one of the Spirit hubs and find non-stop availability, you can get away with bargain-basement prices not only in fees, but also in miles. For example, you can snatch a roundtrip flight between NYC and Fort Lauderdale for 5,000 miles and $11.20. To get this redemption rate though you must:
- Have a Bank of America Spirit credit card
- Make sure you put some charge on it every month to keep miles from expiring–Spirit miles expire after 3 months of inactivity
- Book at least six months in advance to avoid close-in fees
Even with the restrictions, the card is worth getting and the miles worth collecting. The BofA Spirit Air credit card comes with a 15,000-mile sign up bonus, which is enough for up to three round-trip flights.
Booking a Big Front Seat between Fort Lauderdale and New York
There is no shortage of saver-level award seats on this route during off-peak season.
The taxes and fees on the award ticket come to $11.20. Spirit will keep upselling you add-ons such as baggage fees, but once you get past that you’ll get to the screen asking you to choose a seat. This is when it’s time to act.
Upgrades to the Big Front Seat are offered for $35 each way, so your total will be 5,000 and $81.
A comparable first or business class flight on a major U.S. airline would cost you 50,000 miles.
What about paying cash?
Here is a regular ticket for the same flight. Note it’s not a sales price. If you are flexible, it’s entirely possible to get a revenue ticket between NYC and Fort Lauderdale for under $100.
So a Spirit revenue flight in a Front Big Seat costs $229. Let’s see what major U.S. airlines charge for a first class ticket for a similar itinerary.
Of course, it’s not entirely fair to compare a Spirit Big Front Seat, which doesn’t include anything, with a first-class ticket from major airlines that include bags, food and drinks. Besides, the Big Front Seat is priced per segment, and not per flight, so if you fly with a connection, you would pay more for your roundtrip ticket. Still, the comfort is comparable, and the price difference is huge. Try Big Front Seat once, and you might get hooked.