Now That’s the Spirit!

 A Spirit Airlines Inc. pilot holds a sign as they picket  against the airline at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport after the pilots went on strike in a dispute over pay and benefits on June 14, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Miramar, Florida discount airline is seeing the first strike at a U.S. passenger carrier in nearly five years.

(should say passengers)

 

My past experiences with airlines have not gone so well. I was able to get a free travel voucher out of Northwest Airlines by writing a scathing letter regarding a lengthy layover in Detroit awhile back. Because of that, I now continue to fly Northworst, I mean NORTHWEST, I MEAN DELTA ( damn conglomerates!) in hopes of racking up 597,000 Air Miles for another free trip.   However, no amount of money, air vouchers, or drink tickets (well, maybe) will ever persuade me to fly Spirit Airlines again in my life. Unless I’m flying the plane itself, you will not see me taking advantage of another “$9” fare. Allow me to explain…

I headed to the airport awhile back for a two-week excursion to a far off land located in the Midwest. The first problem I would like to bring up with Spirit is the fact that they don’t fly out of normal airports like Miami International Airport, but have decided to hunker down at FLL, aka Fort Lauderdale International Airport aka Your Mom’s Ugly Carpeted Basement. People who live in the South Miami-Dade area will tend to look to fly out of here as opposed to MIA in order to take advantage of lower fares. But this is no longer the case, and it always seems to take an hour to get there, even if you leave your house at 5am (FYI: rush hour in Miami is regularly Sunday-Sunday, 5am-7pm). Which is exactly the time I had to leave the house for this trip… ON A SUNDAY. Mind you, no one wants to ever give you a ride to FLL, and always wonder why in world you decided to fly Spirit. The conversation usually goes like this:

Me: Hey, do you think you could take me to the airport?

Anyone: What time do you leave?

Me: Um, 5?

Anyone: Oh, 5pm from MIA, right?  That’s cool…

Me: No, um 5am from Fort Lauderdale.

(SILENCE)

Anyone: Well, see if you can find someone else. If you can’t, just let me know… (last part of the sentence is usually whispered)

Needless to say, you don’t want to know what I had to do to get a ride this particularly Sunday morning. I’m pretty sure the only reason my friend took me because they were still up from the night before, and really had no idea what was going on. So while they slowly steered up the highway to the airport, I kept a close eye on them and said a small prayer. Once I made it to FLL, I meandered inside to the ticketing counter, thinking that the rest of the process would run pretty smoothly. I was wrong.

I get up to the Ticketing Rep, and she goes through the process of giving my boarding pass (SPIRIT doesn’t even have an APP for THAT), and goes to weigh my luggage. The scale beeps and slowly hits 60 lbs., red LED, Biggest Loser style. She then tells me that my bag was overweight, and I would have to pay an overage fee of $50.00, EACH WAY, for my bag to travel. First off, it was really rude of her to call my bag overweight-it just has a water retention issue. Secondly, they were already charging me $33.00 EACH WAY just to take my bag on the plane. So, now tack on an additional $100.00 JUST TO HAVE MY CLOTHES TRAVEL WITH ME?!  Are you serious???? The bag fees tallied up to more than what my actual plane ticket was purchased for, which I found absolutely ridiculous. Now, unless my bag is strapped into one of the fancy “BIG SEATS” (they don’t even have first class!) and is provided a complimentary 4 oz. bottle of water and chips, I ain’t paying a hundred bucks just for my bag to go on the friggin’ plane!

So the Rep tells me that if I can get the bag down to 40 pounds, that whatever else I have can go on the plane with me as a carry-on, as long as it fits inside a 14 x 14  space. As if all passengers are skilled at weighing all the items in their bag, she says this with such ease that she really believes I can do this. I proceed to get out of line and open my suitcase to figure out what I can take out. I throw away a huge binder and take out my LV bag and another purse, along with my toiletries. I am already starting to sweat. I lug my bag back over to the scale and plop it down. The LED screen displays a 45. The Rep tells me that she will go ahead and let the bag go. Why thank you so much!  In all honesty, I think it’s all a set-up: there is no way my small bag of lotion, two fake purses, and a Trapper Keeper weighs 15 pounds! I’m pretty sure there’s a Spirit employee in the back who watches all of the unsuspecting passengers put their suitcases on the scale and then makes up a number so they can watch us get pissed off. The extra fees probably pays their salary.

 After I finally get through security check, we start to board the plane. I head to my seat in 27B and see a young lad already settled in, chatting with his friends. I check a few times, to make sure I wasn’t look at the wrong seat, but sure enough my pass says 27B. I tell the guy he’s in my seat, which he responds to by pulling out the twin to my boarding pass. This is not that big of a dilemma for me, and I figure that I’ll just let the flight attendant know of the mix-up. However, she decides to make the situation worse immediately by snapping at me to “take my seat”. I make her aware of the situation, and she clearly doesn’t believe me. I then advise her that unless she wants me to give this guy a lap dance until I get to my destination, she needs to figure out somewhere else to put me.

She decides to do her job and take a look at my seat assignment, as well as the other passenger’s, and finally acknowledges the error. Luckily, I was placed in a row that was empty. My happiness lasted for about 5 seconds, until I realized that it was in the back of the plane, next to the toilet. So I proceeded to endure the interesting smell for 3 hours, while trying extremely hard to fall asleep. Sleep is all I could afford on this Spirit flight, since they pretty much charge for everything when you fly. Allow me to give you a breakdown of some of the various fees that you can expect if you ever decide to fly Spirit. Because your $9 Each Way deal is a complete SCAM!

  • Let’s say you score a “deal” and pay a base price for your flight of $20 each way… with all the actual taxes and mysterious fees that are added on, you pay $120.00 for your roundtrip fare. Still not TOO bad…
  • If you dont’ want to travel naked and actually plan on using deodorant and wearing shoes, you need a suitcase. And if you plan on wearing more than one pair of pants, you’ll actually need to check a bag (HEAVEN FORBID!). This means you will need to shell out another $60-$160 bucks to take your pants with you and then bring them back
  • If you need a snack, you can pay $6 bucks for a bag of M&M’s and maybe score some Sun Chips. SN: The M&M’s don’t even have peanuts.
  • You will also have to shell out another $3 dollars to wash down those chips with your favorite soda/water/juice drink. If you want to get crazy, you can be an idiot and pay $10.00 for a watered down Skyy and Cranberry
  • Are you cold? Pay $5.00 for a blanket
  • You want to go the loo? $2 bucks for every ten minutes you spend in the water closet.
  • Would you like to breathe?  5 cents a minute…

You catch my drift here. So with all the additional fees, the annoyance of trying to make your suitcase lose weight, and the fact that you have to bribe someone to take you to BFE to get on the plane, Spirit just isn’t worth it. So until they have wine flowing through the oxygen masks, free everything, and child-noise cancellation headphones, I’ll just pay more to fly out of little Cuba, I mean Miami International Airport.

-KEEP IT A HOT MESS

(all photos are courtesy of Google Images- I do not own the rights to any of the photographs)

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