[I] just finished up a year-long contract in Minneapolis that required me to fly up there from Dallas monthly. As a turnkey contractor, I always try to fly as cheaply as possible. When we’re talking cheap there is one airlines that has taken their price and service to a new low (they make Southwest look like a luxury airlines), it is called Spirit Airlines.

How to Fly on Bare Gas…

I should have known I was in trouble when I saw promotional pictures at the terminal of a guy covering his area. Their tagline appears to be “Bare Fares: Just gas and a!#.” and they really nickel and dime you for everything, and I mean everything. My client was concerned that I actually booked a flight on this airlines. As a newbie he was correct, as on my first return flight, I was bumped due to over booking. I was given a prompt refund, left at the gate, and told to “find my own way home.”

At this point, many people would give up and never fly them again.

…Without Losing Your Spirit Fare…

But considering they are a profitable airlines with prices half the cost of their competitors, I was determined to figure out how this airline worked. About half the people I met happily flew them regularly and never got stuck in airports. So 26 flights later, I have learned to really appreciate this airlines and these are my tips to not get caught with your pants down.

5 Tips for Flying Spirit Airlines without Losing Your Spirit Fare…

1. Don’t Expect Red Lobster Food at Taco Bell Prices. All airlines are NOT created equal. If you want great services, don’t fly this airline. If you don’t want to be nickeled and dimed, don’t flight this airline. If you don’t like to see people bumped from their flight, don’t fly this airlines.
[tweet “If you don’t want to be sardined in an overfull flight, don’t flight Spirit Airlines.”]

Wal-Mart and Neiman Marcus appeal to different types of clients. Nobody should expect Neiman Marcus services at Wal-Mart prices, and yet we do so for flying. Spirit doesn’t care about your complaints, and their social media shows it. In fact, they make no apologies for ignoring or not dealing with your complaints.

2. Join their $9 Fare Club. If you fly them more than once, the discounts on the add-on fees pay for themselves quickly. I am convinced they don’t bump their “members” quite the way they do non-club members. Membership has its privileges.

3. Pre-Buy Your Carry-On. If you buy your carry-on at the time of the ticket, which is even cheaper if you are part of the $9 fare club, you not only don’t get the $100 hassle at the gate, you are automatically placed in Group One boarding.

4. Book the 2nd to Last Row. Spirit tends to oversell all the seats on a plane. But occasionally if there is going to be any extra room, it will usually be in the back. NOTE: They don’t sell the last row online, they save it for last-minute problems. When the door closes sometimes that row continues to remains empty. Move and spread out.

If you know the rules, if you play the game, and manage your expectation, Spirit is a great cheap airlines. By following these tips you can keep your spirits and save your bare …

What have been your experiences with Spirit Airlines?

Images derived from different Spirit Airlines promotions.