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Oh Spirit. We love Spirit. We also love to hate them….This week, I decided to I’d buy Spirit tickets at the airport. I’ll let you decide if this is a love letter or hate mail.
Why are Spirit Tickets at the Airport Cheaper?
One word. Fees. This is really the only word I use when talking about Spirit Airlines. As long as you know there are fees, and you understand what you’re paying for (or not paying for), any savvy traveler should be fine on a Spirit flight.
Spirit charges a $19.99 Passenger Usage Charge for flights booked online or over the phone. Guess where else you can book a ticket? That’s right, you can buy Spirit tickets at the airport! Back in the day (or so I’ve heard), it was fairly common to purchase tickets in person, but that’s changed drastically with the rise of phone purchases, and ultimately internet transactions took the lion’s share of flight purchases. Before this week, I’ve booked 100% of my airline tickets online.
I benefit from having an airport very close to my city center. Boston Logan is under 2 miles from downtown Boston, or in my case, only 40 minutes on the T from work. So on my way home from work on Tuesday, I decided to stop by the airport. I hopped off the bus at Terminal B, Spirit’s home at Logan International.
Buying the Ticket
I walked over to the Spirit counters at about 6:20PM, and this is what I saw…
The line was ridiculously long! Having never flown Spirit before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A long line seemed normal, though I was hoping for a fast, easy ticket purchase. Spirit runs a total of 6 counters at Boston Logan’s Terminal B, and only 3 were open at the time I arrived. There were two lines. One line was reserved for customers departing on a 7:39PM flight for Myrtle Beach. That line moved quite a bit faster than the general line, which makes sense. I think everyone made it to their gate on time.
So at this point, I’ve been in line about 45 minutes…just when I start thinking to myself, “is this worth saving $20?” Probably not, but this was an interesting experiment for me, I wanted to give it a shot!
At that point, they called anyone on the Las Vegas flight departing at 8:05PM into the expedited line. Two more Spirit agents came out of nowhere and opened up two additional counters, and the lines really got moving. When I finally got up to the counter, dodging overweight bags to Las Vegas, I asked if I could buy a ticket.
Wait, what? I waited in line for an hour and I can’t even buy a ticket?! Thinking they must have updated their policy or something, and trying not to sound too dumbfounded, I ask the gentleman again, noting that I already have the flight numbers written down and everything.
“I have to get these people to Las Vegas first.”
Ok, that’s fair. I wait off to the side. A few more customers go by, the Las Vegas line thins. A few friendly people wish me luck after checking their bags. Nothing holding them back at the counter anymore. Free as a bird. I wait some more. Only 2 parties left in the Las Vegas line. It was now around 7:35PM, and I’d been waiting over an hour. Boarding should have started right about now for that Las Vegas flight everyone’s waiting for…
So I keep waiting to buy Spirit tickets at the airport…
After what I think is the last person in line for Vegas (I seriously doubt they made their Las Vegas flight), I see my opening. I go up to the open counter, not the same one I went to the first time. She saw me coming, and before I even got to the counter, “Sir, you’ll have to wait in the line.” There was no convincing her, and I didn’t want to hold up everyone else in the line too. I go back to my spot, and longingly look at the counters. The first guy notices me, and gives the nod to his other colleague. I walk up to the counter full of anticipation.
I hand over my credit card and license, “I want to buy a one way ticket, Boston to Orlando, flight 227, on Friday August 31st. Departs Boston at 8:20AM.” Remembering my manners, I follow up with a quick please, and she takes my card and starts looking on the computer.
I wait another 5 minutes while she looks the flight up. The Spirit agent quotes me a price of $119. $32 more than I saw it for online that afternoon, and almost double what I was expecting to pay in person!! Shoot, price must have gone up. Ok, plan B.
“Wow, that’s more than it was online. Uhhh…what about the same flight, but on Sunday September 2nd?”
Score! $66.20 total, and the $19.99 Passenger Use Charge is nowhere to be found!
I walked back to the bus for the commute home, no worse for wear.
All in, this was a successful experience. Like Lucky, I was able to score a good deal on a flight I needed. Unlike him, I had to jump through some hoops to get there.
My New Rules for Flying Spirit:
After going through this whole process, I developed two rules for flying Spirit
- I’ll never fly Spirit with a checked bag.
- I will never go out of my way to buy Spirit tickets at the airport.
Listen, I get that Spirit is inexpensive. Sometimes, they’re your cheapest option even despite the fees. But personally, I never want to wait in a Spirit line again. I have no desire to use up valuable Priority Pass lounge time at the airport (don’t forget to tip!) when I could book a slightly more expensive flight on another airline, and typically get my checked bag included. In my experience, the lines are better and the process is smoother with other companies. Plus, every other domestic carrier that I use in Boston has far more than 6 counters and 3 agents working on a regular night.
Was it worth going out of my way to buy the ticket? Well, if you consider my total time was about 2.5 hours, to save $20…my hourly rate was $8/hour. Under minimum wage in Massachusetts! Not worth my time. But I do love saving a bit of cash, so don’t be surprised if you see me at the Spirit ticket counter before my next flight from Boston! I just won’t be making a separate trip to do it.
I’ve never flown Spirit, so this is a whole new world for me and I’m sure I’ll have more to share with you guys after my flight.
Hopefully, it’s good news, not bad!
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My rule #1 is to never fly Spirit. Not worth the experience, even if its cheaper. Do we really want a race to the bottom?
I might agree with you after my flight next week, we’ll see!
I have bought my tickets at the airport for two different destinations on spirit. I never had to wait longer than 5 minutes in line. I have a family of 6 and it saved me alot to do it this way. Definitely worth it. You just have to go at the right time
I went to Logan Airport Terminal B around 9:15 p.m. to buy 2 roundtrip tickets at the Spirit counter. There was a line, but not too bad, less than 10 people in front me. The first agent I spoke to was very nice, he said he could not help but he grabbed someone to help me with it at another desk. The 2nd agent that helped me told me the exact price I was looking for so I handed her my credit card to pay for my tickets. Whole process took around 20 minutes. However, when I received my receipt I found I got charged $40 more! The agent could not tell me why I got charged extra, she said: that’s what the system gave me and I can’t do anything about it, you must heard me wrong this was the price I told you. I asked for a manager on duty, she said: he’s at the gate and he won’t come back just for this, you need to call. After talking to a Spirit FB agent I found out I got charged $40 for seat selection fees. I explained I never asked the agent to pick seats for me or add any optional services but the FB agent said they could only refund by credits. There are just so many traps waiting for you to fall in when you are buying Spirit tickets!
Depending on when you fly (within 7 days or not) you can always cancel your ticket within 24 hour of buying it. It’s a DOT rule
I was just looking to get the seat fees refunded. Their agent said those were non-refundable and they could only give me credits.
That’s utter bs that they made you step off to the side when it was your turn to be served. If that’s their policy, they should have it posted at the beginning of the queue.
So I assume the kiosks can’t sell tickets which would be nice. I’ve checked in using the kiosks with Spirit but have never run into long lines like I keep seeing people talk about. Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far. I fly Spirit for non-stop routes from my home airport that I can’t get anywhere else. Like MCI-DTW for example.
I don’t think you can buy them at the kiosks, I tried to though! It would be a lot easier
Wow…a bad experience for sure. At my home airport of Denver I had to pick up my daughter from an out of state field trip at around 10PM. I had an upcoming fall break family vacation planned so I decided this would be a good time to purchase the tickets at the counter to save that $19.99 fee. Not a soul in the lines for Spirit so I was done in less than 5 minutes saving almost $80 for my family of four. Timing is everything I suppose…..
You lucked out! I think I will stroll by their counters the next couple of times I’m at the airport, just to see if it was poor timing on my part
Fly Spirit with checked bags if youre military. Dont pay for them online prior (or ever for that matter) expecting to get a refund; their customer service is the worst.
BOS and PVD are our home airports as well. My wife and I have yet to fly Spirit. One of my Coworkers, however, is a fan of Spirit from BOS whenever she travels to Florida. I wonder if she will have another member of the Spirit fan club after your trip?
We’ll see James! I’m kind of a no-frills traveler, at least when it’s a solo trip. For that reason, I appreciate only paying for what I actually need/want.
You must be really cheap. Flying like that, with all the other headaches of travel isn’t worth the couple bucks saved on this poorly rated airline.
You know, I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. I pack my own snacks, only have a backpack, and am only taking a 3 hour flight. TOTALLY worth it to save $100 over other carriers, personally 😉
I disagree with the writer and it really depends. My tactic is to go and purchase my ticket at a time when the counters are empty. After multiple flights have departed and a lag of several hours between allows time to purchase the ticket without waiting. My last trip to the airport for 7 tickets saved me $300. I agree do not fly Spirit unless you are just taking a small backpack. Once you realize Spirit is not a friend and will do you no favors and just a ride only it puts things in perspective.
I agree, I saved quite a lot lately, flying a family of 4. From $129 a ticket down to $70 a ticket. When the Spririt agent told me the fare was $50/head I was surpised and then she said wiht taxes and all fees it would be $70, I was still happy to save $236 in total.
I hate to travel in spirit but when i compare spirit with another flights its so cheap and inexpensive.
Do you have to buy the ticket at the departing airport or any airport that Spirit services? Thanks
I believe it’s any airport that has a Spirit counter
I’m buying 3 round trip tickets so I’m going to give it a shot and see if it works for me. The Passenger Usage Charge is $119.94 so it’s worth a try. Thanks!
I usually go to my airport’s page (BWI) prior to going there. Filter Spirit departures. That way I know when there’s likely to be a long or short line.
That’s a much better system than mine Sally!
Is BWI very strict on the preferred ticketing times? I just saw on the website that BWI only sells tickets during like a small 3.5 hour period each day. BWI is the closest thing I have to a home airport, but it’s 90 minutes away from me. It doesn’t take an entire tank of gas for me to get there and back so I think the savings may be worth it, but I don’t know if the timing is feasible.
I have to say, I’ve had really good luck with Spirit. I think maybe the airport has something to do with it. I fly out of a small regional airport and Spirit is their only carrier. Agents are super nice. I’ve even inquired about a ticket purchase and the agent insisted I wait because they knew the price was going to drop. I did and saved another $50. The other trick I use is to stalk the website, and pay attention to how many seats are left on the flight I want. Wait them out as long as possible for the best deal.