I know that someday you'll find better things.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Break Your Spirit Air

Combing through travel fares from Dallas to Boston last night, I noticed a non-stop flight for $168 round-trip amid the other quotes of $300-$500 per ticket. Were my eyes deceiving me? No. Did I rejoice? No. Did I even pause to investigate? Heck no.

I knew that flight, and I wanted no part of it.

I don't think I would take that Break-Your-Spirit Air red-eye flight again if they paid me $168.


A few years ago, after my sweet Nonnie passed away, Russ and I needed to get to Boston in a hurry. If you've never had the occasion to purchase tickets within twenty-four hours of your journey, believe the hype: the ticket prices are sky-high. 

There were several $700 per person flights with three or more stops/layovers along the way. This meant that we could feasibly pay $1400 for plane tickets, leave within two hours of booking the flight, and not even arrive in time for the funeral.

And then, like a little travel miracle, up popped a non-stop flight for $168 per person. The flight would depart at 1:15 a.m. and arrive at 5:48 a.m., which would give us a little less than four hours between arrival and funeral.

We would sleep on the plane.
It would be perfect.

The first sign that things were not perfect involved some fine print about additional charges.

There were charges to select a seat in order to guarantee traveling next to your loved one. Worth it, we agreed.

There were charges involving bags, and not just the checked-in kind, either. Charges--substantial ones--were associated with carry-on bags, too. Not worth it, we decided. 

We would wear our funeral attire (and as many layers as we could muster) on the plane and figure out the details later. Not the coziest plan for catching some shut-eye, but our comfort was not a priority. Besides, we'd only be there for 24 hours.

There were even charges to have the tickets printed at the airport. We've always printed our boarding passes at home cheerfully, but the idea of being railroaded into it rubbed against our optimism like sandpaper.

Still, we proceeded with our preparations, dutifully doing the backwards-airport calculations to determine when to leave the house in order to arrive at the airport at the appropriate time. 


As Russ drove, I daydreamed about the impending middle-of-the-night journey and the other souls who'd accompany us on this flight. Surely the plane's cabin would be dimly lit and cozy, probably with a few sleepy business travelers heading to morning meetings. Poor things, I thought, grateful that this lifestyle was not part of our routine. 

In sharp contrast to my peaceful vision, the airport was a zoo.

Actually, that is not entirely accurate. For the most part, the airport was silent and vacant. It was only our gate that was a zoo. 

It seemed that the entire population of a small town was there, and every demographic was represented. Especially the child-and-baby population, and by the way they were running around and yelling, they had no intention of sleeping any time soon.

At a glance, I assessed that there were more people in the lobby area than could possibly occupy the plane. This mystery cleared up when we boarded, and I saw that there were more seats on this plane than on any similar craft I'd ever traveled on previously.

Here is how you know I am not exaggerating. We were seated in the last possible row-- you know, the "backs against the restroom" row. In this case, 26D and 26E.

On United Airways, the Airbus A319 has 8 first class seats, 40 "economy plus" seats, and 72 "economy seats" for a total of 120 seats across 21 rows.

On US Airways, the Airbus A319 has 12 first class seats and 112 coach seats for a total of 124 seats across 22 rows.

On Spirit Air, the Airbus A319 had 10 "big front standard" seats and 135 "standard" seats for a whopping grand total of 145 seats across 25 rows. (There was no row 1. I do not know why.)

And every seat was filled.

We are not particularly tall people; still, our knees rubbed against the row of seats in front of us.

You might think that with so many seats on this plane, reclining seats would not be a possibility. You would be wrong. The seats did recline-- all, of course, but ours. I found this out the hard way when the woman in front of me reclined without warning and her seat smacked into my face.

Right in the kisser.

This new obstacle in my lap greatly limited my range of positions for the next four hours as I could not physically face directly forward. Nor could I look to the left or right without actually scraping my face on her seat-back. Unless, of course, I tucked my chin or half-stood to get up and over her seat back.

As bad as I thought I had it, Russ had--by far--the very worst seat on the plane, although he never once complained.

The person in front of him--more courteous? more clueless?--did not recline her seat, so you'd think that Russ would have had more face-space.

Wrong again.

In fact, Russ's situation might have actually improved had the passenger in front of him reclined, because his face-space became a vacuum for derrieres.

I'm not kidding.

Because we were seated in front of the restroom, and because the aisles were so narrow, the steady stream of restroom-users needed to do an intimate dance around one another in order to reach their respective destinations. 

This was usually achieved through a method involving significant leaning of bellies and rumps, always, ALWAYS into Russ's face.

I was somewhat surprised that so many people were even using the restroom given that beverage service was infrequent and NOT complimentary. Seriously. Not even water.

Around hour three, we started to wax nostalgic about the Mexicana disaster with a fondness I never thought I'd feel.

We arrived in Boston on time, stiff, parched, grumpy, and with our funeral attire not nearly as wrinkled as I'd anticipated, thanks to our inability to move for the duration of the flight.

Our spirits, however, were utterly broken.

Off the plane but before even spilling out of the jetway and into the airport proper, we made a solemn pact to never fly Spirit again.


We've become fans of Jet Blue, and that's probably the airline with which I'll book our upcoming tickets. It doesn't matter that the tickets appear to be double the price. By the time you factor in all the complimentary Jet Blue things that Spirit charges for, it's a wash financially, leaving only two factors at play:

comfort and timing.

These two things that I so greatly underestimated have become of paramount importance for our travel plans-- they are utterly essential to keeping our spirits intact.

I hereby swear that everything you've just read is the complete truth as I remember it. Skeptical about the validity? Here are two websites to substantiate my claims:

5 Outrageous Spirit Airlines Fees (published May 8, 2013) http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/05/08/5-outrageous-spirit-airlines-fees/

A list of "Optional Services" from the company's own website (current as of March 5, 2014)


  1. We are loyal customers of Southwest. Their customer service has won us over.

    1. I wish we had more opportunities to fly Southwest. I've always heard such good things! <3

  2. When are you coming to Boston? Is it in MAY? I really hope so, MAYbe you MAY consider May if there's a good reason? (I know there is a lot wrong with that sentence, but I was really trying to make a point.) <3

    1. It's more than a MAYbe! There's something awesome happening mid-MAY that we wouldn't miss for the world! :)