Flying Spirit Airlines with a Toddler (Without Paying Extra Fees)

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We flew from Chicago to New Orleans on Spirit Airlines.  When Steve first mentioned to me about Spirit, I was skeptical after hearing about their fees policy and how they nickle and dime you on EVERYTHING and some people end up paying a whole lot more than traditional airlines.  I thought we might end up paying a lot of extra hidden fees and be left with a bitter experience.  Steve, however, thought he’s figured it all out and promised we will not be paying an extra penny more.

He was right.  The fares were dirt cheap and we didn’t pay anything extra.  Here’s how we did it:

  1. Print boarding pass at home – Spirit Airlines charges you even if you are printing the boarding pass at the airport kiosk, so save a couple dollars by having it printed before you go to the airport.  Since we traveled with a ticket-less toddler, we could not print our boarding pass beforehand and had to head up to the counter for our boarding pass, but we were not charged the printing fee.
  2. Pack light – Each person is allowed a 16″ x 14″ x 12″ bag so we packed a light backpack and made sure not to bring more than needed.  Luckily a diaper bag is not counted as a carry-on so we were able to put most of my son’s belongings in the diaper bag (and whatever else I could stuff inside).  In addition, my husband brought his camera bag, which is also not counted as a carry-on.  If you have to bring a larger bag or as extra bag, try to pay for it when you buy the airline tickets as it will be cheaper than paying for it when you check in at the airport.  (See baggage policy)
  3. Beverages & snacks – Buy your lunch/dinner/snacks before you broad the plane.  I am not sure if Spirit charges for fountain water too since we brought our own.  Just remember, if you want to drink or eat anything, it’s cheaper to buy them at the airport than on the plane.
  4. Baby items – As mentioned above, diaper bag is not counted toward the carry-on bag restriction.  A stroller is also allowed to be carried all the way to the gate at no extra charge.  Same with children car seats.  (Just note that most airports will require an extra layer of security check with the car seat.)

Overall I enjoyed flying with Spirit Airlines for its super low fare.  I also found the flight attendants to be really friendly.  On one of the legs Steve and I were assigned separate seats because it was pretty full.  We got on the plane and asked the flight attendants to see if we can swap seats with fellow passengers so we could sit together.  They asked us to wait a few minutes, and seated us at the end of the plane with an empty row.  (Since none of the seats recline, it didn’t matter what seats we had.)  Not only were the flight attendants pretty nice about it, we got 3 seats, which means my ticket-less toddler got to have his own seat!

For shorter flights where I can pack light, I will definitely recommend Spirit.  Having flown with different airlines, I appreciate friendly flight attendants more than having an extra bag of peanuts.

Have you flown Spirit Airlines before?  What is your overall experience?


Photo taken by Steve Chou

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