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That's the Spirit! Flight was fine

By Debbie Leffler • Jun 20, 2019 at 12:00 PM

This column is a follow-up to the column I wrote last month about Spirit Airlines. I had booked a flight from Detroit to San Francisco on that airline so that we could visit our son who lives in California. The earlier column had a lot of my complaints about the Spirit Airlines website — how it kept adding, or trying to add, charges for things including suitcases and seats, making its seemingly cheap airfare not quite so cheap.

In defense of Spirit Airlines, the flight was fine. This airline has bright yellow planes, which make it stand out. Both flights left on time, and even arrived at their destination a little early. There was lots of crying in Oakland for the Warriors’ loss.

I was a bit worried when I learned (after I bought the tickets) that the seats don’t lean back. That sounded pretty uncomfortable, especially for a five-hour flight at night-time. The airline says that this is so that more seats can be put on the plane, so it can take more passengers, so that the costs can be kept down.

When the flight day got closer, Spirit once again tried to charge me more — I could pay an additional charge for roomier seats at the front of the plane. I did not

It turned out that the non-reclining seats weren’t so bad. And I discovered — when I took a walk to the bathroom at the back of the plane, midway through the flight — that many of the seats in the back of the plane were empty. Several people had moved back there to take a whole row of seats, flipping the arm rests up and creating enough leg room to straighten legs across three seats. I did the same — with the flight attendant’s permission — and had a more comfortable ride. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible on the return flight, which was full.

Southwest Airlines provides free snacks and drinks on its flights, but Spirit does not. The Spirit flight attendants come through with a wide variety of drinks and snacks available for purchase by credit card. But it’s totally unnecessary to buy snacks on the plane. I brought snacks from home which were quite sufficient.

The size allowance for the free carry-on bag allowed me to take my backpack for free. It held our snacks, books to read, tissues, my iPad, and plenty of other things.

I did pay to check one suitcase, which provided plenty of room for what we needed. The weight limit was 40 pounds, and I came close — 39 pounds at weigh-in — but that was fine.

I can’t say the same for the Detroit airport. Norwalk is well located for a choice of airports to fly from. We have used Cleveland, Columbus, Akron-Canton, Toledo and even Pittsburgh. It all depends on the price of the ticket, weighing the travel time and cost of parking into the equation. This time, Detroit seemed the best option — until we got there.

We had some small confusion at the start when I had directions to “Park N Fly” to park our car away from the airport, but the sign there said “Airline Parking” and I thought it wasn’t the right place, so we passed it, realized it was the right place, and had to turn around. No big deal.

The two-hour drive to Detroit seemed very long in addition to the five-hour flight. Also, the Detroit airport, it turns out, is huge and crowded. It took a while to find the Spirit counter to print our baggage tags. We felt unnecessarily jostled and hurried and ordered around by uncaring, officious attendants at the security line. However, coming back on the red-eye, the Detroit airport was much less crowded in the early morning.

These are minor problems. We are lucky to be able to get on a plane and visit our son who lives 2,400 miles away — 36 hours by car without stopping. I wrote in the earlier column that if the Spirit flight leaves relatively on time and gets me to California and back safely, I will be content. That happened, and we had a wonderful time.

Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected]

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