Doing Budget Airlines Right

Flying the more than four-hour trip from LAS to PHL was not exactly the highlight of my winter vacation — whether it was the return to reality or the opinions about the airline coming my way, I already had an earful about Spirit Airlines before even boarding the plane.

Friends and frequent travelers alike advised me to switch the tickets, anything more than an hour is too long on a budget flight and the price isn’t actually worth the trouble — needless to say, my expectations were low, even at the gate.

In the event the flight had no entertainment at all, which sounded like it was to be the case, my sister and I downloaded podcasts and music onto our phones and a few movies on an iPad. We triple checked our headphones were ready and charged up at the gate.

Of all the stories I heard from friends and fellow flyers, the one I was mildly worried about was the overhead space. While boarding, my sister and I easily fit both of our carry-ons overhead, jackets behind us and personal items under our seat. Yes, we had to purchase that carry-on space beforehand, but we saved some money by doing so while booking our tickets.

“Spirit Airlines, where you have to pay for everything and get nothing … these seats are like cardboard,” said a passenger a few rows back. A few passengers within earshot laughed in agreement and we prepared for take-off.

At cruising altitude, I was surprised by my neighbor’s opinions, since I was actually quite comfortable. It might have been a mix of my winter jacket acting as back support, but I had zero complaints about the seats. My sister listened to some predownloaded podcasts, I listened to music and we both nodded off for an hour or so before deciding to watch a few movies.

Service came by offering water, soda and snacks for a charge, but this was the rare occasion when I packed granola bars and water, so we were set for the remainder of the flight. Our flight left on time and arrived early, a nice way to end the trip.

In short, if you know your airline’s limitations, what they provide and what you can bring yourself, you can easily make a budget airline work for you.