Our family of 5 went on vacation from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale during the last week of July 2012. I seriously considered driving to save on money. But that would be over 24 hours in the van with 3 young kids, not counting all the stops we would have to make in between. So, I decided to give Spirit a try. I had heard all the horror stories about them, so my expectation wasn't very high. All I wanted was to get on a plane at DFW and get to Florida in one piece the same day instead of 24hrs.
*****Customer Service issue 1.
I purchased 5 tickets, and the next day I was reviewing my purchase and to my horror I noticed my first mistake. I accidentally purchased 5 carry on bags instead of 5 check in baggage. Spirit is pretty strict with their refund policy. But I decided to call anyways. customer service was polite but reluctant. Eventually they gave me a full refund on the carry on which I used to purchased 5 check in bags.
*****Customer Service issue 2.
I elected not to pre-purchase seating. I was afraid that we would be spread out and not be seated together. So I wanted to check in online early right at 24hrs before the flight so we could at least be seated as a group. 24 hours came and I went online to check in but the link wasn't there. I called customer service and they told me that since I'm traveling with kids, I could not do online check in, I had to do counter check in at the airport. Again they were polite but in this case gave me the wrong info. The day of travel I looked online and the link was there, but I took their advice and waited till I got to the airport.
I wanted to be at the airport 3 hours early but things didn't go as planned. We ended up getting to the check out counter right at 5PM and our flight was for 6:45PM. They quickly checked us in and to our surprise we were all seated together 9ABCDE. We were able to quickly get thru security and we boarded and took off on time. The plane wasn't new but everything was clean and we had reclining seats. Something was rattling quite loudly during our takeoff from DFW. But once in the air it was smooth sailing all the way to FLL. The cabin crew was courteous but don't expect any frills. You have to purchase beverages or snacks if you want them Credit Card only no Cash. A can of soda is $3 and a bag of pretzel is $6. If you want something to drink or eat I recommend buying it before boarding. That's what we did.
We got to the airport at 4PM for an 8:25 flight. Plenty of time. At FLL we didn't see any human check in counter for domestic travel. We had to use an automated check in counter. They have lots of them at FLL. I'm guessing at least 20. They have a customer service agent assigned for a set number of machines. She was very friendly and actually did it for us. the machine automatically spits out 5 boarding passes together. 17ABCDE.
The plane was a brand new Airbus A320. Very comfortable seats, but they don't recline and they are close together. The flight was smooth and uneventful which is a good thing. Smooth sailing for 2 1/2 hours until we landed. We took off on time.
All in all I would have to give Spirit an A. Given my expectation everything went as well as the big boys. So no complaints from me. I would definitely fly them again.
-If flying as a family in our case 5, in pays to purchase the $9 fare club. It saved us a lot on luggage.
-Spirit has more rules than most airlines, so make sure you know what you're getting into. Use their rules to your advantage and you can save big on the price of a ticket.
-I'm short 5'8 so that wasn't a problem for me, but if you're a really tall person, or hefty you may want to pay extra for the big seats upfront.
-Last but not least give yourself plenty of time for this airline.