No Frills Flying

When we decided we needed/wanted to go to New York to finish our business, I began looking at flight costs. Usually we are big Southwest fans. Not this time because it would have cost $3,000 for the three of us to fly. To me, this is a form of highway robbery as it didn’t cost that much before—feels like price gouging in many ways.

As I searched airfares, Spirit Airlines came up as the least expensive. Basically their fare was 50% of Southwest’s. This was true even after paying extra for early boarding, a checked bag each, and seats in the exit row. I knew it was a no frills airline, but didn’t truly know how no-frills it happened to be.

For most airlines, one gets a free snack and a non-alcoholic beverage. Not so, with Spirit, it is $3.00 for a soda, and one can also buy a snack or liquor. Don’t expect WiFi as it too is non-existent. None of these are truly dealbreakers as you can take a drink or food on the plane with you. Not being connected for a couple of hours actually wasn’t too bad as it allowed me at least, to watch a couple of downloaded courses on cooking and Spanish, read through four downloaded magazines, and to make a pretty good dent in a couple of cooking magazines and a book I had brought with me. I also wrote one of my blog posts while flying.

None of the above were real deal breakers, nor was the fact the seats on each of our planes were a little different. Some had pockets, others had a thin shelf, and others just some elastic bands holding barf bags and emergency instructions. Don’t go thinking you can stick a bottle of water or soda, or your book or magazine in a pocket as you will most assuredly be disappointed.

No, the deal breaker for us was two things. The first was getting a minor hassle when our ticket counter printed boarding passes did not work for us for early boarding (they had to reprint at the boarding gate after making us step out of the line), on both return flights. That may have been forgiven, but then they lost our luggage.

For a regular airline, they will have someone down by baggage claim to talk to if there is a baggage issue. Not Spirit! No, they have a QR code to scan and put your information into after creating a login account.

To give a little credit, they also have a telephone number to call. But, every time I tried the number, I got a message they were helping other people and to leave a message. No too bad, except they never called me back. They also never responded or placed a message in the online submission although there was an automated response stating they had received the message and would get back to me within three business days. Yes, three business days! Lost luggage, if on a vacation, stating they will get back to you within three business days, might mean you are home before they decide it worth their time to find out what happened.

The kicker to me was, when I tweeted to them, they said there was a baggage service office available. I interpreted that to mean someone was at the airport to help, which is not true.

This afternoon, on a whim since there was no response nor any answer when trying their phone number, I decided to stop at the airport to see if I missed something, and to see if our bags were just against the wall by the baggage claim area.

I confirmed there was no baggage claim office at the baggage area. When I asked a neighboring airline if there was one, she said to check with the guest service desk. I headed up there only to find out Spirit doesn’t have such a thing, and that their ticket gate is only open two hours before a flight—which is a bit ironic since I received a message from them saying to arrive three hours before our flight due to delays at the TSA checkpoint at our airport.

Luckily, when I went over to the ticket agent, someone was on duty. After waiting while she helped a poor lady whose reservation they had canceled because they had erroneously entered she had missed her original flight here, which apparently meant they will cancel all other legs of the flight, I stepped up and asked about my bags.

She asked my name and then handed me my bags (without checking my ID, but who would’ve known to ask I guess). She stated she had just called me and to ignore the message. She had just left me a message, to her credit.

To say I was beyond happy is an understatement. Losing your luggage is not a happy feeling, especially not knowing if they will find it and in what condition it will arrive. I thanked her and went on my merry way.

Although it ended well after a fashion, it is not enough to convince me to fly with them again. It was nice to save some money, but not worth the comfort, or the stress that occurred overall. I, and we, are at a point in our lives that the comfort and little bit of pampering is worth more than the dollars.

Bottom line is, if saving money with the trade off to your comfort is your goal due to whatever circumstances you may have, take the risk. It is all about choices and I’m choosing to take my business elsewhere.

We tried it, and once was enough.

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