Why Is Spirit Airlines So Cheap

Spirit Airlines is known to offer incredibly low fares. It’s a frequent topic of discussion: why is Spirit Airlines so cheap?

Spirit Airlines is so cheap because it operates as an “Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier”. They separate such expenses as food, carry-on baggage, and seat selection from the ticket price. This operational model allows all passengers to get a bare minimum service included in the ticket price and pay extra only for the services they need.

Interested in finding out more about how Spirit Airlines manages to keep its rates so low? Read on for an up-close look into their pricing strategy.

Busting the Mystery: How Does Spirit Airlines Manage to Be So Affordable?

Spirit Airlines has gained quite a reputation in the aviation industry for its incredibly low prices. So how does Spirit Airlines manage to keep their ticket prices so affordable? The answer lies in their innovative operating model and a series of cost-saving strategies. Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors.

The Bare-Bones Approach: What Spirit Airlines Excludes from Ticket Cost

Unlike many other airlines, Spirit Airlines opts for a “bare-bones” approach. This means that your ticket only covers the cost of your seat and the ability to carry on one personal item. Everything else is optional and comes with additional fees. This approach allows Spirit to keep the base fare as low as possible, while passengers only pay for the services they need.

The Baggage Policy: Pay for What You Need

Spirit Airlines’ baggage policy is a prime example of their a la carte pricing strategy. Rather than rolling the price of checked bags into their base fares, they charge passengers separately for every piece of checked luggage. The cost can range from $31 to $65 per checked bag depending on when you choose to pay for it. Here’s a brief breakdown:

When to Pay for BaggageCost
During Booking$31
After Booking but Before Online Check-In$41
During Online Check-In$50
At the Airport$65

This policy not only helps them maintain low ticket prices, but it also incentivizes passengers to pack light, which in turn leads to fuel efficiency and further cost savings.

No Free Perks: Redefining In-Flight Experience

Another significant factor contributing to Spirit Airlines’ low flight fares is the absence of in-flight perks that come free of cost. There’s no complimentary in-flight meal service, and amenities like extra legroom, preferred seating, and in-flight entertainment are subject to additional fees as well.

This strategy might sound extreme, but it allows the airline to save on costs that often go unused by passengers. Those who value these amenities can still choose to pay for additional comfort, but others are not obligated to share these costs, which helps them to keep the base fare down.

The Economical Flying Machine: The Spirit Airlines Fleet

The Spirit Airlines operations model is a major contributor to their low ticket cost. At the heart of their strategy lies an efficient fleet utilization and a focus on cost savings. The two major factors that play into their cost effectiveness are their All A320 Fleet and their emphasis on maximizing flying time.

All A320 Fleet: The Key to Efficiency and Cost Saving

Spirit Airlines boasts of an all-Airbus A320 fleet, including a mix of A320s, A319s and A321s. The choice of a single aircraft type has proved advantageous in terms of cost savings and operational efficiencies. The benefits of an all-A320 fleet are manifold:

  • Standardized Operations: Operating a single type of aircraft simplifies operational complexities such as maintenance, crew training and scheduling, sparing, and inventory management, leading to cost savings.
  • Fuel Efficiency: The Airbus A320 series are known for their fuel efficiency which plays a significant role in keeping the airline’s operating costs low.
  • Dense Seating Configuration: Spirit Airlines outfit their planes with a higher number of seats than many other airlines. The lower seat pitch allows for higher passenger capacity, thus lowering the cost per seat.
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Maximizing Flying Time: Quick Turnarounds and High Utilization Rates

Besides maintaining an efficient fleet, Spirit Airlines also puts strong focus on maximizing its aircraft utilization, i.e., keeping aircraft in the air as much as possible and earning revenue. They achieve this through quick turnarounds and high utilization rates.

  • Quick Turnarounds: Spirit airlines has an average turnaround time of about 30 minutes, one of the lowest in the industry. This quick turnaround time can be attributed to their no-frills service model and allows for more flights per day, further maximizing revenue.
  • High Utilization Rates: Spirit makes certain that its aircraft are in the air for as long as safety and regulations permit. In fact, they keep their planes flying for an average of 13 hours each day. This high usage rate means that every plane is generating optimal revenue.

These operational efficiency strategies, along with their low-cost, no-frills business model, are why Spirit Airlines manage to offer cheap fares without compromising their profitability.

High-Density Seating: More Passengers Mean Lower Costs

Spirit Airlines, which focuses primarily on being an ultra-low-cost carrier, has a distinct approach to keeping prices down. One of the key factors is its high-density seating strategy. Essentially, Spirit Airlines operates on the simple premise that the more passengers they can carry on a single flight, the lower the operating cost per passenger. This method significantly contributes to how Spirit Airlines manage to offer cheaper rates for its flights.

High-density seating refers to the practice of adding more seats to an aircraft than traditional setups. According to Spirit Airlines, they use ‘pre-reclined’ seats in a tight configuration. While it might seem uncomfortable to some, it’s all part of their grand scheme of lowering costs. By adding more seats to each flight, Spirit can distribute the flight’s operating cost across more passengers.

Consider this, the Airbus A320, which is a common aircraft for many different airlines. A traditional setup might have around 150 seats. Spirit, on the other hand, configures the same aircraft to hold 178 passengers.

Airline Aircraft Number of Seats
Generic Airline Airbus A320 150
Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 178

This allows Spirit to spread the cost of operation over 28 more passengers per flight. When these additional seats are booked, the flight becomes much cheaper for all passengers. The result of this strategy is cheaper tickets for customers, a lower cost per flown seat-mile for the airline, and more profits.

Of course, the trade-off here is that the added seats offer less legroom and creature comforts than other airlines. Customers are willing to sacrifice some comfort to save money on their flights, and Spirit’s consistently low fares prove that this approach works.

Revenue Diversification: A Key Aspect of Spirit Airlines’ Business Model

Spirit Airlines is known for its ultra-low fares. How they manage to keep their prices so attractive to budget-conscious travelers, however, is mostly attributed to their unique business model. The cornerstone of Spirit Airlines’ business model is revenue diversification.

The “Unbundling” Strategy: Pay-As-You-Go Model

Spirit Airlines operates on an “unbundling” business model, sometimes referred to as the Pay-As-You-Go model. This approach allows passengers to only pay for the services they want to use. While the initial ticket price might be low, additional services such as checked baggage, seat selection, and even carry-on bags come with an extra charge. This a la carte method of service is similar to how many budget European carriers operate.

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Non-Ticket Sources of Revenue: Ancillary Services

Another significant source of revenue for Spirit Airlines comes from non-ticket sources, often termed as ancillary services. These include services like checked luggage, carry-on bags, seat selection, food and drink purchases on board, travel insurance, and even hotel bookings and car rentals. Compared with other airlines, Spirit derives a higher percentage of its total revenue from these additional services.

A report by the consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany showed that in 2019, 47% of Spirit’s total revenue came from ancillary services. To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at the following table:

AirlinePercentage of Revenue from Ancillary Services
Spirit Airlines47%
United Airlines21%
American Airlines19%

As seen in the table above, Spirit’s reliance on ancillary revenue is significantly higher than other major U.S. carriers. This strategy allows the company to offer lower initial ticket prices, attracting price-sensitive customers, and then generate additional revenue through added services, hence, maintaining its position as a budget airline.

Outrageously Cheap or Cleverly Economical? Customer Perception and Experience

Many airlines, including Spirit, have adopted a business model that offers exceedingly low base fares, which they supplement with various fees for services typically included in the price of more traditional airlines tickets. This “bare fare” model allows passengers to customise their travel experience according to their preferences and budget constraints. This may seem outrageously cheap to some, or it could be seen as cleverly economical to others. The perception rather depends on what the customer values most when they travel.

The Trade-offs: Price Versus Comfort

Spirit Airlines has a reputation for providing no-frills flights. The focus is on getting passengers from point A to B as cheaply as possible. The trade-off for these low prices, though, can come in the form of comfort and conveniences. For example, while the airline’s planes are clean and safety-compliant, the seats are sometimes noted as being more cramped, with less legroom. The base fare does not include amenities like complimentary meals or inflight entertainment, which are standard on other airlines.

ServiceIs it included in Spirit’s base fare?
LegroomNo (extra for Big Front Seat)
In-flight mealsNo (purchase separately)
In-flight entertainmentNo

It is also important to note that Spirit charges ancillary fees for various services and necessities, such as checked baggage, seat selection, and even for printing boarding passes at the airport. Despite these extra costs, however, your total fare could still end up costing less than a ticket airline.

Customer Feedback and Reviews: The Real Picture

Spirit’s customer satisfaction largely depends on the traveler’s expectations and experiences with airlines. Some passengers appreciate Spirit’s transparency about their pricing model and the ability to only pay for the services they use. Others express dissatisfaction due to unexpected fees and the a la carte pricing model, which they felt nickel-and-dimed by.

Online reviews and feedback depict different experiences with Spirit Airlines. Some applaud the airline for its cheap tickets and efficient boarding, while others criticise their customer service and unanticipated fees.

In terms of numeric feedback, according to Skytrax, an airline review and ranking site, Spirit Airlines has an average rating of 2 out of 5 stars based on over 2000 reviews.

Despite mixed reviews, given the right set of expectations, Spirit Airlines can be an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers looking for cheap flights.

Spirit Airlines Versus the Competition: How Do Others Stack Up?

Spirit Airlines is one of America’s leading ultra-low-cost carriers. But how does it stack up against its competition? Let’s dive in to check out a comparison with other brands within the airline industry.

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Comparison with Other Low-Cost Carriers

When we look at other low-cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air, or Southwest Airlines, the way Spirit Airlines achieves its low pricing becomes apparent. Start by considering the average flight cost per mile. The following table demonstrates these rates:

AirlineAverage Cost Per Mile (in USD)
Spirit Airlines0.31
Frontier Airlines0.35
Allegiant Air0.42
Southwest Airlines0.41

This is largely due to Spirit’s ‘Bare Fare’ model. This model only includes the cost of the journey, with add-ons available for a fee. These additions cover things like baggage, seat selection, and on-board refreshments. It’s a different business model than the rest, which often include some of these amenities in their base fare.

Mainline Carriers: A Different League Altogether

Comparing Spirit to mainline carriers like Delta, United, or American Airlines underscores the difference. These airlines often include more services in their base cost, which drives up ticket prices. On average, these airlines charge significantly more per mile than Spirit Airlines.

AirlineAverage Cost Per Mile (in USD)
Delta Airlines0.55
United Airlines0.58
American Airlines0.64

In addition to flight costs, another area where Spirit differs greatly from mainline carriers is in amenities. With Spirit, expect to pay for anything beyond basic transportation — including food, carry-on bags, or even printing boarding passes at the airport. This contrasts sharply with most mainline carriers that include at least some amenities in the base price of a ticket.

Unpacking the Fine Print: Understanding the Terms and Conditions

Spirit Airlines, often touted for its ultra-low-cost flights, is able to offer such cheap prices due to its cost-saving measures and unique business model. Yet, you might have heard frequent flyers grumble about hidden fees associated. So, how does Spirit manage to offer such cheap flights? And how true are the “hidden fee” grumblings? It’s all about understanding the fine print in Spirit’s terms and conditions.

First and foremost, Spirit Airlines adopts a ‘Bare Fare’ pricing model. Under this, your ticket simply gets you and a small personal item from point A to B. Anything beyond that, such as checked bags, carry-on bags, seat selection, and on-board snacks, comes with an added cost. The pricing structure might look something like this:

Checked Bag$30-$65
Carry-on Bag$35-$65
Seat Selection$5-$50
On-board Snacks$1-$10

Before booking a flight, it’s crucial to understand what you’re getting (or not getting) with your fare. You’ll often find that once you start adding the “extras”, the ticket price can quickly escalate. Therefore, it’s essential to factor in all potential costs before making a decision to fly Spirit.

Another thing to note in the terms and conditions is the flight timing. Spirit Airlines often operates at off-peak times. This helps the airlines reduce costs as airport charges are usually lower during these periods. However, it might not be the most convenient for passengers. But hey, the early bird catches the worm, right!

Lastly, it’s also essential to understand Spirit’s cancellation and change policy to avoid any unwarranted charges. Unlike other budget airlines, Spirit doesn’t offer free flight cancellations or changes within 24 hours of booking. So, if you’re uncertain about your travel plans, you could risk paying more in cancellation or change fees.

In a nutshell, Spirit Airline’s cheap prices can be very alluring, but it’s crucial to understand their terms and conditions to ensure these fares don’t come with pricey shocks later on.

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