With half of my family located in Atlanta, the trip up I-75 from Tampa has become all too familiar. The total drive time for a one way trip is about 7 hours (bragging rights go to those who can knock this time down to 6.5, and sympathy to those that hit traffic and turn that 7 into an 8 or 9…), which doesn’t sound so bad, but for a quick trip over the weekend, 14 hours in the car takes a chunk out of your weekend. “Well why don’t you just fly…” you ask? Well despite short 500 mile distance in the air, the hour and a half flight can really cost you, especially with multiple travelers. Any TPA – ATL roundtrip flight under $200 is a “good deal” when flying airlines like Delta and Southwest and even if we do happen to find flights $150 per roundtrip, we still have to consider the fact that there are sometimes 4 people traveling – which means $600 in airfare!
Check out this example Delta flight for a weekend trip to Atlanta:
So when deciding drive vs. fly, it is much cheaper to pay for a couple tanks of gas (especially given the fact that gas is below $2 per gallon) which will cost you less than 1/3 the price of flying with 4 travelers. There has to be a cheaper way… right?
Right! Enter Spirit Airlines – where you can travel roundtrip from Tampa to Atlanta for a mere $36… seriously. The low fare carrier is notorious for cheap tickets, but before you start booking fights left and right, keep in mind that they are also notorious for costly add-ons. What do I mean by add-ons? Literally everything! Would you like to pick your seat? It will cost you. Fancy a glass of water mid-flight? It will cost you. Want to bring a carry-on bag? It will cost you! Spirit operates with their own set of rules, but if you learn the rules and get a little crafty, than you can beat them at their own game!
Here are some tips on how to score that $36 roundtrip flight form TPA-ATL (and other flights just like it!):
Save on “Passenger-Usage Fees” aka Online Booking Fees – Spirit charges a fee to book your tickets online! So how do you beat it? Go to the airport ticket counter! Chances are if you grew up in the age of internet, you may not have even known buying tickets at the airport was an option, but when flying with Spirit, this can save you over $30 per ticket!
Save on Seat Selection – Spirit charges a fee for you to pick your seats, so let them pick for you! If traveling with kids Spirit will seat you all together without paying the fee!
Save on Baggage Fees – Spirit charges a fee for bags, both carry-on and checked bags. If traveling light with only a personal item (check here for the size requirements) is not an option, then make sure to pay for bags when you book the flights to avoid higher fees.
Save by Printing your own Boarding Pass – Spirit charges a fee (approximately $10) to print this at the airport, save time and money by printing at home!
Save by bringing your own Food & Drinks – Spirit charges a fee for all in-flight services like drinks (including water) and snacks! On short flights like TPA – ATL going without isn’t so bad, but on longer flights make sure to come prepared with snacks and water.
Spirit gets a bad rap with all the extra fees they charge, but do your homework and know the rules ahead of time and you could end up saving some serious cash! Personally, I have taken just one roundtrip flight with Spirit, but I have to say that was good overall and will most likely be flying with them in the future!
For any specific questions on Spirit Air and how to use their policies to your advantage, please feel free to post comments below or email me at AcCountingyourpoints@yahoo.com.