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If you’ve been poking around Points With a Crew for a while, I hope you stumbled upon Dan’s post on Frontier’s check-in and seating system.  Read the post to find out more, but long story short:  if you wait to check in until close to the flight, you have a much better chance of getting a decent seat (without paying!).  If you want to get a good seat on Spirit, the same plan works!

What’s with Frontier and Spirit?

Well…they’re low cost carriers.  You knew that.  And I knew that too.

So we know they’re going to charge you all sorts of fees.  Most LCCs disguise their fee structures as a way to break down the fare, and save you money.  There’s merit to this approach, especially for someone like me.  Sometimes I’ll fly solo, and I fly without baggage whenever possible.  If I can head to the airport with everything I need in my backpack, it’s going to be a good trip.  On Spirit, flying without bags means less money out of my pocket.

(Among my favorite fees, Spirit’s Passenger Usage Charge:  Skip the fee by buying your ticket at the airport!)

Both airlines will charge you to select your seat, usually between $5 and $15/seat.  Middle seats and seats toward the back of the plane are usually cheapest. If you want to get a good seat on Spirit though, there might be a trick..

Spirit Check-in Experience

Right about 24 hours prior to my flight, Awardwallet reminded me to check in.  I went through the motions, and there were only seats in the back of the plane available.  Plus, I had to pay for those seats if I wanted one.  Now, I’m not too picky, but I do prefer the window seat if I have the choice.

I got to thinking…  “Well, I’m certainly not going to pay for a seat…and I don’t really care where I sit anyway.  Hmmm, I think Dan wrote about something like this for Frontier…”  I found the article, and decided to give it a shot for Spirit!  To sum it up, he waited until fairly close to his flight to check in, didn’t pay for an assigned seat, and still avoided getting stuck with a middle seat.

I checked a few times throughout the day, and the plane looked like it was filling up.  In hindsight, I’m not sure if it was actually filling up, or just Spirit’s algorithm tricking folks into paying for seats.  At about 12 hours until the flight, I looked again, and there were no seats for purchase.  I only had the option to check in without a seat selection.

So I checked in.

“No Seat Assigned” I wasn’t sure if I should be worried about that one…

At the Airport

I got to Logan International Airport around 6:45AM, and breezed through security (courtesy of my AmEx Platinum Global Entry).  After a quick breakfast at Stephanie’s in Terminal B, I made my way over to my gate.

At BOS, Spirit has two dedicated gates, B37 and B38.  They’re located all the way down the end of Terminal B.  When I got there, I walked up to the gate agent, and showed them my boarding pass above.  I explained that this was my first Spirit flight and that I wasn’t sure how to figure out my boarding zone and seat assignment.  The agent smiled and asked my name, and then she promptly handed over a boarding pass.

Zone 4.  Seat 16A.  Woohoo!  A window seat, and toward the front of the plane.  Perfect.

Sure enough, I got a window seat close to the front of the plane.

Here’s the Catch:

There are a few things you should remember if you want to get a good seat on Spirit for your next flight:

  • I didn’t have any carry-on bags.  If you did, on a full flight, you might have a real tough time finding overhead bin space.
  • I was traveling alone.  If you have companions and want to sit together, I definitely suggest paying for your seats.  (This may not be an issue, check out some datapoints in the comments.)
  • MAKE SURE you check in at least 45 minutes prior (60 minutes prior for international and US Virgin Islands).  Otherwise, Spirit may cancel your flight.  See the terms for yourself here.
  • Probably the most important of all (and thanks to reader A KOCHAR below) – this plan wouldn’t work if the flight is oversold at all!  Typically, the latest passengers to check in would be the first to get bumped to the next flight.  This is a BIG risk, and if you think your flight could be oversold, I don’t think it’s worth waiting to check in just for a seat near the front.

Have you tried doing this?  Let me know if it worked for you!


Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

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