Why Spirit Airlines Tickets Are Cheaper At The Airport

Spirit Airlines is one of the largest discount airlines in the country. They offer ultra low fares to numerous cities across the United States. However, did you know you can buy even cheaper tickets by simply buying your Spirit tickets at the airport?

spirit airlines airplane on the ground
Photo Courtesy Of Spirit Airlines

How I Discovered It

A couple months ago, we were planning a family trip to New Orleans. As you can imagine, finding award flights for 7 people can be a challenge. I looked at the major airlines and they either didn’t have award space or they were asking an exorbitant number of miles for the flights.

Next, I tried splitting the flights into two one-way tickets. I figured maybe I could find award space on one airline there and another one for the way back. I didn’t have much luck, so I turned to Google Flights to see if I could find a cheap cash fare that could possibly work.

details of a spirit airlines ticket purchase

The search results returned cheap one-way flights to New Orleans (MSY) for $65 per person on Spirit Airlines. These tickets were more than half of what other airlines were charging for this route. Needless to say, I was pretty excited with my find.

However, when I started thinking about flying a discount airline something else popped into my head. It reminded me of the hack I used to buy cheap tickets on Allegiant by going to the airport. Because Spirit Airlines is a discount airline like Allegiant, I thought maybe it could be even cheaper to buy these tickets at the airport too.

Why It’s Cheaper

I’ll spare you a lot of the details as to why but if you want to get the nitty gritty details, you can read them here. Basically, Spirit and other airlines will take a large portion of the airfare and classify it as a surcharge on the ticket to legally save on paying taxes.

However, in order to do this, they have to provide a way for the consumer to avoid paying the fee. That’s where the trip to the airport comes in.  This fee is excluded from your ticket when you buy them at the airport.

breakout of spirit airlines ticket fees

Spirit Airlines calls this specific fee a Passenger Usage Fee and it is charged to each flight segment. Our flight to New Orleans had a stop in Dallas, so there were two segments which made the fee even higher. The total for this fee on our itinerary was $45.98 per person.

Save Money At The Airport

Before I headed down to the airport, I did a little research and found conflicting reports. There were some that said it was cheaper and others said they didn’t save anything. I didn’t know what to believe, so I figured I’d head down and find out for myself. If it’s true, this would save me over $300 on the 7 tickets.

Before you head down to the airport, here are a couple of things to consider:

Check Hours – You will definitely want to check the ticket counter hours before you leave the house. Agents won’t be at the ticket counter all day at most airports. You can find the Spirit ticket counter hours here for all airports they serve.

Double Check – I would also recommend calling the airport directly to confirm. I found this out the hard way. I checked Spirit’s website and went down at the time listed, only to find out the website was not accurate. If you can’t get a hold of someone at the airport, find out when flights depart and plan to arrive about 90 minutes before the flight leaves.

Prices Can Change – Just be aware that prices can change while you plan your trip to the airport. If you find a good deal and want to try this trick, go to the airport as soon as you can.

spirit airlines ticket counter phoenix

My Experience

I arrived at the airport and got in line with everyone who was checking in for their flight. It’s possible there could be a designated line for customers buying tickets, so keep an eye out for that just in case.

There were a few people in front of me so I pulled up the flight again on the Spirit app just to confirm the price hadn’t changed. When it was my turn, I gave the agent the flight information and she quickly pulled it up. She told me the grand total for all 7 of us to fly one-way to New Orleans was a whopping $131.60! That means we saved over $300 by purchasing our Spirit tickets at the airport!

ticket bought at airport for spirit airlines

Even though I was expecting that amount, it still shocked me to actually hear it. Even the agent was a little surprised. I just wish they had a flight home on the day we needed so I could have booked a round trip. Instead, I found an inexpensive one-way on Southwest which was nice since we have the Companion Pass.

How To Pay For The Ticket

Use The Right Card – I always recommend paying for your airline tickets with a credit card that has travel insurance. This is especially true when flying on an airline that doesn’t have many flights like the larger airlines. If you’re flight is delayed or cancelled, that insurance can really come in handy.

Recommendations – Three of my favorite cards all have good travel insurance that could really come in handy. I’d recommend using either the card_name, card_name or the card_name.


Using Points – Using points to pay for flights on discount airlines can be tough if you pay for them at the airport. The only way I can think of would be to use a card, like the card_name, that allows you to redeem your points for a statement credit.

Final Thoughts

Buying Spirit Airlines tickets at the airport are definitely cheaper and can save you a ton of money. The process was very smooth and didn’t require any hoops to jump through. With the mixed reports out there, I’d be curious to know if you had any issues. Leave me a comment below and let me know how it went.

As for the flight, we didn’t actually get to take it. A hurricane hit New Orleans the day we were planning to travel so we had to cancel our flights. Spirit quickly issued a full refund and we ended up rescheduling our trip a few months later. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to test out the inflight experience and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

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