Last Friday I had the severe displeasure of flying Spirit Airlines from Las Vegas to New York, and I can say with a straight face that the only thing worse than flying across country is flying across country on Spirit Airlines. I’d rather shoot turpentine than fly with Spirit again. Read on to find out why.
You’re not open? Really?
So my adventure in pain began when I arrived at the airport in Vegas at 6:45pm. My flight wasn’t until 10:18pm, but what the hell, I was finished with CES and didn’t have the money to go galavanting around the strip, so I decided to head straight to the airport.
When I arrived at the airport, I went to see if there were any self check-in machines. There weren’t. Now, if you’re thinking that I’m just some highfalutin’ New Yorker who expects self check-in machines everywhere, stop; Alaska Air next door had them. I don’t expect technology from 2003 everywhere, but I damn well expect my airline to keep up with Alaska friggin’ Air.
Okay, so no check-in machines. That’s cool, I’ll just go over to the counter and speak to a ticketing agent. Except oh wait, there’s no one at the counter. There’s only a sign that says “Spirit Airlines will be open at 7:20pm.”
Really, Spirit? You don’t do flights during the day? You only operate at night time?
Whatever, I guess. So I sat down in the ticket line and watched with jealousy as Alaska Air passengers checked themselves in at machines or enjoyed witty banter with the Alaska Air ticket agent. Meanwhile at the Spirit Airlines counter, to teenage boys were weighing their bags, and then themselves.
Finally, 7:20pm arrives and four ticket agents come out. I wait patiently in line until it’s my turn to check in. When called, I reach the desk, and I begin the process. Everything’s peachy until I’m asked how many bags I’m checking in.
Now, I know that airlines are charging for check-in bags, so that’s why I pack light. I carry my laptop bag as my personal item, and a duffel bag, which fits in the overhead compartment, as my carry-on item. It’s an awesome tip I learned from Sarah and I’ve used it to avoid check-in fees for over a year now. So when the ticketing agent asked how many bags I’d be checking in, I said, rather proudly I might add, “none”! At least, that’s what I thought.
You’re going to charge me for my carry-on bag?! Really?
After my reply, the ticket agent asked to see my bags. I showed her my two bags. She then asked me to step over to the little bag measurer (you know, the one that says “if you bag doesn’t fit in to here, you must check it in” but is always smaller than the actual overhead compartment) and measure my bags. The measurer had two containers: a tiny one for my personal item and a less small one for my carry on bag. The ticket agent asked me to put my laptop bag into the tiny bin. No problem. I dropped it in and it fit easily. Awesome.
Then she asked me to put in my duffel bag. Okay, this was going to be a little more difficult, but I could certainly cram my duffel bag into the less small one.
“No, no,” she said, “not that container.” She then pointed to the small one, the one with my laptop bag already filling it. “That one.”
What!? You expect me to fit my carry-on bag and my personal item into the same tiny bin? What the fuck?
The agent then explained to me that if I couldn’t fit the duffel bag in with my laptop bag, I’d have to pay 30 dollars for it. I told her that I didn’t want to check it in, I wanted to put it in the overhead compartment. She said “yup, that’ll be 30 dollars.”
You’re charging me for my CARRY-ON bag?
She nodded. “It’s $45 at the gate.”
I stared, dumbfounded. This was new. I was being charged for my carry-on bag. I opened my mouth, prepared to make a scene, prepared to be that person, when I decided that arguing probably wasn’t going to change anything. It might make me feel better, but I wasn’t going to get my $30 back.
So I sullenly handed my card over, hoping it’d somehow give her a paper cut that required stitches. She asked me if I wanted a window or an aisle seat, I requested and aisle. She said “no problem” and printed my tickets.
After getting my ticket, I went through the security checkpoint (didn’t get x-rayed or groped, thank goodness) and proceeded to my gate. No one was there, which didn’t shock me (see above), so I sat down and read a book (the Chaos Walking trilogy, for the curious. You should read it. Fantastic stuff.)
7:45pm turned into 8pm. 8pm turned into 9:00pm. 9:00pm turned into 9:30pm. I looked at my ticket. We should be boarding by now. I headed over to the departures screen. My flight was delayed until 10:30pm. Great. A little notice would’ve been nice. But whatever, delays happen. I guess I’ll wait.
9:30pm turned into 10:00pm. 10:00pm turned into 10:30pm. No plane, no updated information, no one at the gate (massive angry crowd of passengers notwithstanding).
Finally, at 10:45pm, at 15 minutes after my delayed flight was to have departed, an agent arrived at the gate. 15 minutes later, the plane arrived.
Now, granted I’ve been on delayed flights before (Christmas Eve 2008 was a nightmare I hope never to repeat), but when my flights have been delayed before (on real airlines) someone is at the gate, answering questions from frazzled travelers. At Spirit? Nope. You better just sit the fuck down and wait for your plane to arrive.
Anyway, I get on the plane (with my $30 bag) and head to my seat. I was expecting an aisle seat (remember when the ticket agent asked me “do you want a window or an aisle seat”?)
It was a window seat. Even better, it was a window seat in front of an exit row, which means no reclining.
Why’d you even bother to ask me what I wanted then?
When the flight took off, the flight attendants came through the aisle with sodas, water, the usual stuff. For a price, of course. Even the water. And they don’t take cash, so put your Lincolns and Hamiltons down. Parched? Just want water? Spirit Airlines says fuck you.
Hours later I arrived at Detroit and waited for my connecting flight. When that finally arrived, I got on board, eager to get away from this awful airline and get back to my wonderfully Funky Apple.
So I get on board, and the flight isn’t packed, at all. I’d say it was about two-thirds packed. Even though there’s no discernible first class, the seats at the front are all empty, while the seats in the back are filled. I’m in a three-seater ailse with a married couple (because of course I’m in a packed row on a barely filled plane) but whatever, that’s absolutely fine.
There’s a dude two rows in front of me. He’s in an aisle all by himself (lucky bastard), but for some reason, he wants to move up just one row. So he asked the flight attendant.
“Excuse me, since the flight isn’t packed, is there any way I can move up one row?”
The flight attendant answered (sarcastically) “Sure, we have a $25 change fee.”
“Oh, thanks. Nevermind.”
You’d think that’d be the end of it, but back the flight attendant came, still sarcastic. “Did you still want to switch? Or are you okay there?”
“No, no, I’m good.”
“You’re good? You sure? Okay.”
Really? Sarcasm is really necessary? The flight is basically empty. The dude wants to move up ONE ROW. Not to first class (even though there is no first class) just one row. And even if it’s not allowed, do you have to be a smarmy jackass about it? I guess that’s the call of duty on Spirit Airlines.
I’ve now spent way more time on this post than I probably should have. But I wanted to come back around and hit the keypoints: Spirit Airlines hates you. They’ll charge you for your carry on. They’ll ask what seat you want and give you the opposite. They show up when they want to show up. They’re rude. They’ll charge you for water.
To sum up: eff you, Spirit Airlines. Eff you. I know you charge people exorbitant fees to make up for your lack of business, but I hope everyone reads this post and avoids flying with you. I hope your death rattle accelerates and you go the way of Crystal Pepsi and New Coke, although you’d probably charge me for that, too.