If you’ve ever wanted to get the most out of traveling, you’ve probably been advised to take a low-cost carrier like Spirit Airlines. Airlines such as these charge exorbitant fees for things like pretzels on-board to charging $100 at the gate in bag fees. But there are plenty of ways to enjoy your travel on an airline like this with proper expectations.

It’s important to remember that these carriers should be known as A to B carriers. You get your butt in a seat that takes you from A to B and nothing else. Take out all the frills, lower your expectations and its difficult to be disappointed.

The easiest of fees to avoid is the “Passenger Usage Fee”. This $17.99 each way fee gets charged if you book through their online reservation portal. Meaning, you can save $35.98 by not utilizing the online system. How do you book a ticket elsewhere? By going to the airport ticket counter like the good ole’ days. And no, I don’t mean the day of your trip, but as far in advance as you wish.

spirit optional fees

What I like to do is keep an eye on the fares online for a couple of days (around 4-6 weeks out) until you see it at a price you are ready to pay. Subtract a minimum of $36 when you take a quick trip to the airport (every so often the actual fare itself is even lower at the airport than advertised online). If you don’t live close to an airport, ask a friend who might and buy their next beer. Either way you win.

Some other ways to avoid fees — pack light. It’s as simple as that. Get the largest bag that will fit on your back with two straps and it is free. Even if it doesn’t fit comfortably under the seat, as long as it is on your back they won’t give you any trouble. Technically it has to be 16″x14″x12″. Once you’re on board just stow that enormous “personal item” above your head. Because it costs less to check bags instead of carry it on, overhead space is abundant.

spirit airlines roulette

Lastly, and most thrilling, play ticket roulette: A unproven scientific method of mine is to chance the system. Even if you’re not going to Vegas, you can have some fun. *Not recommended if you 100% need to be on the flight* Think of this option similar to when they ask if you’d volunteer to take the next flight available for a credit since yours is overbooked. If the thought never crossed your mind to volunteer, skip this section.

When Spirit asks if you want to pay for a specific seat on the plane you should always say no in my opinion. Who cares, right? Just get me from A to B. The ticket roulette hypothesis is that Spirit will give the worst seats to those who request a random seat instead of paying for them. Therefore, if a plane has 100 seats and 33 are middle seats, the first 33 people to check-in will get those 33 seats. If you check in after those people, the better your seat is likely to be.

By printing your boarding pass at the kiosk within a couple hours of your check-in (or before you leave for the airport), you have two scenarios. Scenario 1: ALL the awful seats are gone and you end up in 2A, if you really procrastinated, 1A (a big front seat!). Scenario 2: Everyone already checked in, and there are literally no more seats available because the flight is overbooked. Guess what, you won’t be on this flight. Remember what I said about volunteering? It’s a fun game to play, but remember it’s a risk/reward game. My advice is to find that middle ground where you know you’ll be okay, but not too late to not catch your flight! To make it a little easier, go to the online check-in and get 2/3 of the way through the process where it asks you to pick your seat, view the seating chart and see what portion of seats are already taken. This should help guide you to the time that is just right!

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