Cheap Airline Tickets: Was it worth it?

Tonight Andy comes in to Florida to spend two nights at my parents’ house before we being our Disney vacation. Part of this epic vacation included a side trip to visit my (90-year old!) grandfather and my mom’s sisters in Washington, DC. When mom first proposed this idea to me I immediately began researching flights from Florida to DC and landed on a round-trip flight for two on Spirit Airlines for $250. Total.

I know. I thought it was too good to be true, that there were extra taxes somewhere, but it was truly $250 and we booked it immediately.

But I am a daughter of an aircraft mechanic who worked when airlines were regulated by government and still have trouble wrapping my head around all these awesome fees that have popped up. So I was shocked to learn that Spirit charges for checked AND carry-on baggage, seat selection, drinks on the plane and has a graduated overweight baggage fee with the allowed baggage weight to max out at 40 lbs before fees start (most other airlines are 50 lbs).

Mom and I thought we were saving some money by packing one bag to check and keeping it under 50 lbs. We were a pound over at both ends of the trip, but since they start charging at 41 lbs, we paid a fee. $50 on the first leg and $25 on the second leg (the ticket agent in DC was far more accommodating).

The flight was great, and I thought not being able to select seats would be a problem, but we checked in and got an aisle seat and a window seat on the same row. Though we both prefer aisles, it proved to be fine ultimately.

The flights were comfortable and though we joked that we rode in an Airbus A319, the “tester” to the A320, the pilots were great and the flight attendants were helpful.

The ticket agents in Fort Lauderdale were jackasses, though. I got harassed for not knowing the 40 lb limit (“We’ve been 40 pounds for years.” “Right, but your history of weight restrictions doesn’t help me if this is the first time I’m flying with you.“). I was told that if I just took out 2 pairs of jeans I’d be underweight. Ok, I know jeans are heavy, but not 11 pounds between two of them. And then since the bags were in my mom’s name, the ticket agent wouldn’t even let me pay the fee until she showed up. And even though I told her I just wanted to pay the fee she kept insisting I try and make it underweight. Lady, I get you’re trying to help, but please, let me give you my money so I can get on the flight.

Oh! And we showed up at the airport 45 minutes before our departure to DC and were told that since we were “late” we’d have to sign a release to not hold the plane in case our bags didn’t make it in time for departure. I couldn’t find the piece of paper that said (and I’m quoting, thus the quotes) “Passengers should arrive 30-45 minutes before departure time to ensure their bags will be checked on their flight and not delayed.”

You know it’s a bad experience when the best part is the TSA pat down.

But, all that said, the overall experience was fine once we got on the plane.

So how did it match up to the next most expensive flights on AirTran at $426 total?

Flight- $250
Bag fee to DC- $25
Overweight fee to DC- $50
Bag fee to Ft Lauderdale- $25
Overweight fee to Ft Lauderdale- $25

Grand Total- $375

Still cheaper, and not all together unlike other flight experiences I’ve had, so I’d say it ultimately was worth it.

Have you flown a super-discount airline and paid all these fees? What was your experience like?

See ya from Disney!!!

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