$9 Fares at Spirit Airlines – But is it a Bargain?

By Linsey Knerl on 15 March 2008 (Updated 18 August 2011) 37 comments

Airfare for less than $50 makes me a little giddy, even though I haven’t left the state in over 2 years. So I had to do a double-take on the Red Light Specials over at Spirit Airlines website. $9 fares? Let’s take a look.

The conditions of the red light promotion are simple: Book a flight among some very limited dates in April, between some very limited airports in the U.S., from now until 11:59 PM EST on Monday night to get your deal. Rates start as low as $9 (but most of these are intrastate flights). I'm sure that I don't even have to tell you that all of these flight deals are non-refundable, as well.

Since my airport isn’t served by Spirit Airlines, I decided to take look-see anyway, using some hypothetical travel scenarios, and comparing them to results I found on Travelocity. Here is what I found:

To travel from Atlanta (ATL) to Fort Lauderdate (FLL) on April 14th, returning the very next day, it would cost:

$158 ($138 + $21 in fees) from the Spirit Airlines Red Light promotion site

$210 ($183 + $27 in fees) for the cheapest flight on Travelocity. Interestingly enough, this flight was the same flight on Spirit Airlines. The next highest airline was AirTran.

A dozen subsequent searches gave me the same kind of results. Spirit Air was significantly cheaper, in most instances. In only one case, a flight from New York to Detroit, Spirit Airlines was $5 less on Travelocity. There were still quite a few seats left on these select flights, and surprisingly, the flights weren’t all red-eye seats in the back cabin.

While it’s not likely that many people are going to be able to take advantage of the jaw-dropping $9 fare, there are still deals to be had, especially if you’re heading to Florida in the next month. Visit Spirit Airlines website at www.spiritair.com or visit this direct link to the Red Light Sale for all the details. (If you make a purchase, be sure to uncheck the travel insurance and the $9 fare club fee if you’re not interested.)

If you’re going somewhere warm, can you bring me back something? Please?

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Guest's picture

I, and most of my family, live in the Atlanta area. My sister lives in Florida ("spacecoast" area). She's taken to these $9 deals like the proverbial mouse to cheese. Every couple months she throws together a single carry-on bag, flies up here on the cheap, and crashes on our sofa for a day or two and gets to visit her niece and nephews (doubt she'd come to visit her brother). The deal is you only get your carry on bag and it can't weigh more than 50 lbs I think. As long as you can pack light I think you can make the trip for $50 or so including taxes and all.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks!  I was wondering if there were any travelers taking advantage of these deals.  I guess they wouldn't offer them if there wasn't some kind of consumer base.  As I sit here in Nebraska watching more flurries, I WISH I could jet down to FLL. 

Guest's picture
Spencer

I have flown Spirit a number of times. Recently, they've started nickle-and-diming their passengers. For example, they charge extra for checked bags ($10/bag each way, up to 2 bags, or $5 if you book your bag on the internet). There are some other extra charges, but I can't remember what.

Guest's picture
Guest

I would be surprised if anyone managed to book a flight at 11:69 PM on Monday...

Or would that just be 12:09 AM on Tuesday?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Nice catch... I only wish my hours had an extra ten minutes in them!

 

Guest's picture
Guest

The "all-inclusive/all-airlines" ticket and travel sites sometimes have good deals but I always cross-check with the airline sites. In the past year, I've noticed that more and more often buying directly from the airline saves anywhere from $20-150! I usually start at Cheaptickets.com to get an idea of what price range I'm looking at then check the best 3 fares on each of the airlines' sites.

Guest's picture
jmj

As previous commenters have pointed out, spirit nickel and dimes you to death with additional fees.

Plus, it has the worst customer service in the airline world that I've encountered.

I fly to detroit quite a bit ( a spirit hub ). I pay extra to fly other carriers to avoid spirit.

Guest's picture

There's a typo in your Spirit link above. And I'm confused by your comment that the $9 flights are "interstate" -- did you mean domestic?

Since the airline seems to fly to/from Ft. Lauderdale, seems like a great deal only for Floridians or for those near a major hub with family in Florida.

I recently wrote a post about RyanAir, in which I showed that the airline has been paying *me* to fly when I purchase its sale fares. I am guessing that no American carrier has yet made the jump to paying taxes and fees on behalf of the customer -- am I wrong?

Linsey Knerl's picture

I fixed the link to SpiritAir, and I did mean to say "intrastate" - or within the same state (Florida, for example.)  I have heard about RyanAir... and I'm jealous!  Thanks for commenting.

Guest's picture
Guest

I HAVE USED THERE SPECIALS 5 TIMES THE PAST YEAR IT WAS GREAT.
SAVED A LOT OF MONEY. YES I LIVE IN FL.

Guest's picture
Hez

In October, 2007 I flew Spirit Air from Detroit to Orlando for $80 round trip. In January, 2008 my son, my husband and I each flew there for $16 (+ tax)!
Last month we flew there for $66 each + tax.
Can't beat that with a stick! I am going in a week or so to watch the space shuttle launch since the prices are so low! Who cares if I travel with a carry-on only? No problem to me to carry on a soft drink and/or a snack. It's quick and easy and CHEAP to fly this airlines.

Guest's picture
Bruce

I heard of this only recently,how do you book these,I believe you have to pay into membership?

Guest's picture
Guest Andrea

The $9 fare club is such a scam!! I flew Spirit in the summer of 07 once on a three hundred ticket- in Oct. of 08 a $40 charge shows up on my Amex from Spirit. It's for membership in the $9 fare club. No idea how I got enrolled- I booked my tix online and I suspect it was a negative checkoff that I failed ot uncheck and embedded in the fine print is this annual fee. If you aren't reading your statements carefully you will not see it. To add insult to injury- there is NO CUSTOMER SERVICE number. Only reservation agents in India who parrot the phrase 'you must write a letter'. My guess is that they have had sooo many people ticked off about this scam (or their crappy service in general) they purposefully don't have a number. We will see if my letter actually gets me out of this club on the first try...

Guest's picture
Guest Laura

I accepted a Trial Membership to the $9 Fare Club for $9 while booking a 4-person itinerary online in Nov. 2008. It promised a $9 Discount on each flight I booked with Spirit as a member of the club. When the discount didn't show up on my completed booking, I called the 800 number and was told by a customer service agent in India that the $9 discount does not apply to your current booking, only to future bookings (it didn't say this anywhere in the "pitch" or in the fine print)! What's more, the customer service agents in India cannot "unjoin" you from the club - you can cancel your membership at any time, even the same day you join, but once your credit card is charged, the charges stick! To add insult to injury, last month they converted the Trial Membership to a full year membership and charged my credit card another $39.95 without my permission! Again no luck with Customer Service. Does anyone know how I can get these charges refunded?

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi,
this happened to me also, I joined the $9 trial fare club and cancelled online a few days before it expired.
To my surprise, the $39.95 fee showed up on my visa bill the next month. I got tired of talking with people from India that I could hardly understand after waiting 2 hours on hold (no, I am not exaggerating). They told me they could do nothing. I asked for a supervisor to help me, they said they had none. So I called my credit card company, they told me to write a letter explaining what was going on and they would try to take care of the matter. They did get it resoloved for me, and the charge was removed by Spirit, finally. Their customer service is the worst in the airline industry. Their fares are tempting, but be aware that many charges and, taxes are added on, plus they charge for checked baggage, and for choosing seats in advance.
So, by the time it all adds up, it may not be the deal
you think it's going to be, plus the aggravation if a problems does occur is just not worth it to me. A side note: our last trip consisted of sitting in the very back seats on the plane listening to the flight attendants complain non-stop about how they hate working for Spirit - and all the problems they are having. It was very disturbing.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just joined the $9 club and I have been trying to take advantage of these low fares listed on their "deals" page but I have yet to get any of them. For example, I log in and then try to book one of the flights listed on the list, exact dates and all, but the fare that shows up will be something like $145 rather than the $13 listed on the deals list. Any idea how to actually get these $9 fares??

Guest's picture
Guest

I have had good success with the $9 fare club; maybe 6 RT FLL-LGA and 2 RT to DC. It is not complicated - you just have to jump on it quickly and book normally (while logged in) with the dates indicated. The taxes are not Spirit's doing, they are regular standard gov't fees. It is great if you have flexibility.

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree that if you are flexible you can find amazing deals. I have flown from Orlando to Atlantic City or Detroit for under $40 round trip, taxes included. Yes, they can nickel and dime you, so to avoid this simply don't select your seats until checking in. If you have a longer trip and must check a bag, then the savings on the flight ticket more than cover the price of a checked bag.

Again, this $9 club only is good if you are flexible with travel dates and locations, and you live near a city with several destinations via Spirit (i.e. Ft Lauderdale).

Guest's picture
Guest

It seems you have experience with the 9$ fare program can you explain to me how this works? To my understanding from what I read is that about every six weeks or so Spirit has "sales" where members can buy the very cheap tickets, but you can only fly the days that Spirit says and the airports Spirit says? because i live in California and I would have to fly out of LAX and if that is not one of the airports that has the cheap fares then it would not be a good deal for me. Please help me understand how this works.

Guest's picture
Guest

I saw this $9 fare thing and I called, they told me everything I have read here (without the bad parts) I have to fly to Puerto Rico from Boston with my toddler and you know two regular tikets go over $400 roundtrip so I am considering to apply but, I'm scared to apply and then find nothing. I read that here that not to select seats (anyways dont care where to seat just want to get there). Thanks for any info

Guest's picture
Guest

my son goes to College in Florida, we live in Maine, but can got out of boston if necesary. is this spirit worth joining?

Guest's picture
Guest

I live in Maine and my family is in FL about 45 min from FT Lauderdale and I LOVE Spirit. I payed $241 for my family (3 seats) to go down just last month. You have to be really flexible but it is well worth it. That included one checked luggage also. If you were able to do it all in a carryon it is even cheaper. The cost of the $9 club pays itself in the first ticket I feel like. Just waiting to find another cheap ticket to head back down! You do have to drive down to Boston but it is also a straight flight so for me with Kids that made a big difference! Hope that helps!

Guest's picture
John From Canada

My family (myself, wife, and 2 children) flew from Det to Ft. Lauderdale last month on Spirit Air, and yes we got the $9 fare both ways. Total cost $199 USD for the 4 of us including taxed; and yes I did sign up for their $9 club.

Living in Canada, half way between Detroit and Toronto, I looked online at Air Canada and the same dates would have cost $2,100 CDN for the flight.

Found Spirit Air to be fine, clean and the staff helpful at both Det and Ft. Lauderdale.

Guest's picture
Guest

Beware of booking with Spirit Airlines in general. I flew Spirit for work purposes and used my employer's credit card to book the trip back in May '08. I moved out of Florida eight months ago and now live 450 miles from an airport where Spirit flies. Spirit sent me an email a week ago stating that I joined their $9 fare club in July '09 and used the employer's credit card to do it. The former employer called curious to see why I've been charging airline club memberships to their account. I have no idea how that happened and would have never signed up for it voluntarily, especially with someone else's credit card which is not in my possession! Spirit still doesn't have a customer service center where you can report these things so I also spoke with someone located in India who was useless. DON'T BOOK WITH SPIRIT UNLESS YOU INTEND TO JOIN THE $9 FARE CLUB because Spirit will use your credit card later to do it for you. Crooks.

Guest's picture
Guest

Spirit Airlines sports a Better Business Bureau rating of F. I was convinced it was a front company for identity thieves when hundreds of dollars showed up missing in my account for airfares and membership fees from an airline I'd never even heard of. After spending a couple of hours trying to reach them on the phone, I contacted my bank's fraud department, as I was convinced the company didn't exist at all. That's how bad they are.

Their luck was no better, and the bank seemed very puzzled that they couldn't get through. My bank refunded the money, and I reported Spirit Airlines to the FBI's cybercrime division and to the BBB.

Just do a thorough Google search on this horrible company. They were recently fined $375,000 by the FAA for what ABC News called, "customer bullying."

For those of you whose experiences have been good, don't get lulled into thinking it's a legit company. The first time you need to change or cancel a flight, you will feel the pain. Their customer service is so poor, they shouldn't even waste the pittance they spend on the pretense.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sounds to me like you're from another airline. I have flown Spirit lots without an issue. Spirit is slowly becoming a huge threat to the big airlines so they throw posts like this up on site all the time.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just checked rating and it was a 'B'. Not sure where you get your info.

Guest's picture
Jacky

Can someone that has already joined the membership check how much it would cost for two tickets from LAX to BOS cost? Please, I'm a little iffy if I should join the club or not. Im scared that they wont have that type of deal for a roundtrip from LAX to BOS.

Guest's picture
Guest

They're currently all around $160 each way...2 stops. The fares change multiple times a day though and you can get it for as low as pennies. Its worth it if you are flexible with travel dates. I just flew to Ny and back to FL for $150 total for 3 adult passengers...you can't beat that price.

Guest's picture
steve

Family and I arrived at your terminal (Spirit) at Detroit International Airport at around 3:30 am to be announced by a rude ticket agent that our flight had been cancelled. They ruined our
vacation. THEY WILL NEVER SEE MY BUSINESS AGAIN.

Guest's picture
Guest

Does anyone know how to find them & do they exist on Spirts site?

I am a $9 member but if you don't live near one their hubs I would never join.

Their customer or lack of stinks. I would ask a simple yes or no question and he would go on for 5 minutes not addressing anything I asked for. Just venting on that issue.

Guest's picture
Monika

Do not get sucked into the 9dollar fare these prices are to reel you in! So you pay your 9dollars you need to add fuel fees about 80 dollars fees 21 dollars in other fees plus tax all not included in your flight and that's one way I'm not sure if he clicked next you also have to pay your way home. To add to that you have to pay 30 Dollars for your carry on and 40 additional dollars for each checked bag! I flew spirit and their seats are redicioulsy close together my husband is 6'8 and his knees were at his chest, they would't accommodate for his height i sat next to q man that overflowed into my seat oh and that's another charge 20 dollars each to pick your seats so you can sit together if you are traveling with someone. When making a complaint their company is outsourced to inda and they were really rude. We flew southwest last time we tracked and loved it! We will not ever fly spirit again!!

Guest's picture
Guest

We fly spirit every chance we get. The jets are standard, so seats and legroom are just like every other airbus. Yes, virginia, they charge for luggage, just like every other airline (except southwest) these days. Yes, Virginia, to join their club and get the cheap rates it will cost you forty bucks a year. Yes, they only fly at certain times and on certain days, and suprise suprise, the really cheap tickets are on weekdays. It is worth it to me to deal with the minor rules to be able to fly cheap. We often go from Chicago to atlantic city or Myrtle beach, round trip, total including everything for under 100 bucks. Yes, there are fees added, yes there are taxes added, just like every other airline. And yes, you have to travel on weekdays and this can be not to your liking...but for me, to get away to the beach for a long weekend, and the CHEAPEST expense is the airfare???? come on people. Stop whining. Go spend a six or seven hundred dollars on united or southwest so you can get a free half can of soda pop, and not pack light. This will open up lots more seats for me and my family, where we are paying total, $40-$50 per person, round trip.

Guest's picture
CD

Seriously, you fly round trip after all fees for $40-50 dollars, including taxes, fees, fuel charges, and at least one carry-on?

Guest's picture
CD

WORST AIRLINE EXPERIENCE EVER!!!

I have flown on over 100 flights this past 2yrs, and that journey has taken me on pretty much every airline in the USA. Flew Spirit this spring, 4 flights all booked at the same time. Thought I would save money, but I wish I had flown with another airline.

After all the extra fees, each of the 4 flights ended costing as much or more than if I had booked with another airline (and I used the $9 fare club tickets). They charged $20 for a carry on, charges for every bag, THEY EVEN CHARGED FOR WATER on the plane (no, I didn't want a bottle, just a cup of water for my medicine), the seats did not recline (none of them, and this was a plane with a capacity over 100), seats were not only uncomfortable but jammed very tightly up on the one in front of you (and i'm a short person).

And once you join the $9 club, you are enrolled in "AUTO RE-ENROLL MEMBERSHIP". There is no way to opt out of that. The only way I could see, was to cancel your membership, which means you will loose whatever is left on the current $69 membership and you will not be refunded your money. My workaround was to go into my account payment information and change the expiration date on my card, so when they go to AUTO charge it 9 months from now, it will not go through.

So, if you really are tight on money, make sure that you are really going to save money after you figure in all the baggage fees and discomfort. then if the savings, if any, go for it, if it really makes sense.

I would rather spend an extra $50 for my flight, then to fly with Spirit. So that means I will probably not be flying on them again, as most everything I price out (including the carry on charge they have $20) means I will find a flight on another airline that is a much better value.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love the $9 club. I don't know if they have gotten better now.. but you can see the fares offered by the $9 club and then sign up if you like. I did and got 3 round trip tickets from Dallas to FLL for $240 ( $80 each).. including taxes fees etc. Add on the $60 membership fee and 1 check in bag for $18 each way.. thats still $336 .. $112 RT. The flight itself was excellent. I just noticed I can fly from Dallas to Vegas for about $30 round trip including all taxes and fees if I buy the ticket at the airport. Just be aware of the fees for Bags and Selecting specific seats.

Guest's picture
Dan

I signed up for the $9 club because they took $50 off my booking to pay $59 to join. So $9 doesn't seem too bad.

Paying the full fee is another story though, no way!