My little sisters are visiting my older sister in Vegas at the beginning of March, and, to make a sisters weekend of it, I really wanted to join. I began by checking flights on Southwest--the tried-and-true airline for those who wish to sacrifice comfort and dignity for a cheap flight. When I discovered that the very cheapest Southwest flight was going to be $234, I was overcome with utter despondence. This isn't an outrageous price to pay to travel 1,000 miles, but when you don't have any way to replenish your money, the thought of over $200 leaving your bank account is painful. (Like I'm 8 again with a $4/month allowance saving up for an impossibly expensive sticker book. Except I don't even get $4/month anymore. Let's not linger on this thought.)
Despite being in the depths of despair having little hope of finding a cheaper flight, I decided to check Travelocity. I typed in my airports, selected dates, and clicked the "+/- 3 days" button to check the surrounding days for cheaper flights. My results loaded. My heart began pounding: the top option listed a flight for $127.60. Could this be true? I immediately began searching for the catch. This must be a one-way price masquerading as a round-trip fare. I selected the flight and clicked through to payment to make sure. It was, in fact, a roundtrip fare. A non-stop round-trip fare at that.
Then I looked at the airline.
Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines? I see. The catch is that this is a fake airline with an insanely cheap made-up fare to trick me into giving them personal information. I would buy my ticket, and they would send me a confirmation email that says, "Gotcha sucker!" and then they would steal my identity. I was sure of it.
I googled "Spirit Airlines," thoroughly expecting either "No Results Containing Your Search Terms," or pages and pages of "DO NOT BUY FROM SPIRIT AIRLINES--IT'S A SCAM." Shockingly, the first result of the search was spirit.com, a website for this supposed "Spirit Airlines." Either they're taking this scam one step too far, or they're actually a legit airline. I clicked on their website. Decent design. Text fields to search flights. An "About Us" page. Apparently they're the real deal. Not only do they seem legit, but when I searched for the same flight on their site, the total was $117.60. $10 cheaper--I could buy this flight and a sticker book.
Before I officially bought my ticket, I decided to investigate reviews of Spirit Airlines. The first telling sign was that it received under 2/5 stars. Complaints ranged from uncomfortable seats ("kept feeling metal on my spine") to poor service ("Flight attendants were rude and yelling at people"). Metal seats and a maniacal staff. The cheapness of the flight was now making complete sense. But I was undeterred. As long as I make it to and from Las Vegas alive, I can endure anything for a two-hour flight.
As I clicked through to pay for my ticket, additional reasons for the cheapness of my flight became clear. Spirit Airlines functions on an a la carte business model where you pay for everything, from in-flight beverages to pre-picking your seat. This is all great--who needs airplane food or an aisle seat? However, the most significant add-on is luggage. Spirit Airlines charges $30 for all luggage, including carry-ons larger than a tiny backpack.
For a brief moment I was overcome with sadness. Adding $30 to each leg of my trip made the ticket almost $200. But. Then I remembered that I am a packing genius. I lived off one roller suitcase for 7 weeks in the Caribbean. I packed one small carry-on duffel for a two-week Christmas break. I haven't checked luggage for a domestic flight since 2005. I have 12"x14"x16" of space to pack for a six-day trip. I can't remember the last time I was so excited.
So, it's booked. $117. I'm going to Vegas. Though, a small part of me still thinks this story is ultimately going to end in a "Gotcha sucker!" email.