The Frustration and Folly of Spirit Airlines, Continued

Note to self:  if Spirit Airlines ever requests volunteers to get bumped and offers a future round-trip flight as an enticement, just pass.  It is so not worth the hassle!

To recap:  Today was my final day to book my “free flight” on Spirit Airlines — remember, I had a sixty-day window from the date of issue to book my ticket.  There were two problems…

  1. while the voucher was valid for an entire year from the date of issue (two months ago), their flight booking window is only open until September 7th.  So if I wanted to fly around Thanksgiving or Christmas, no dice.
  2. the voucher has so many restrictions attached to it that it is basically worthless.  Here is what I found out..

I have dejectedly come to the realization that there would be no trips to Central America or the East Coast for me this summer, due to all the flights being not available for my particular fare.  There are only two flights from Portland that go anywhere:  Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  I decided that at least I can fly to Las Vegas over a weekend using my free flights.  I came up with some dates in February, May and June.  I called the reservation line, went through all those maddening prompts and recordings, and finally reached an agent.  I then gave her all the combinations of dates to use my flight.  And guess what?  Every single one of them were not available…

  • LAS – PDX leave 2/10 and return 2/12:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 2/17 and return 2/19:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 5/5 and return 5/7:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 5/12 and return 5/14:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 5/19 and return 5/21:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 6/21 and return 6/23:  not available
  • LAS – PDX leave 6/22 and return 6/24:  not available
  • LAS – PDX any date at all??!!!:  not available

Wow, just wow.  Exasperated.  I pressed the agent why every single flight was not available.  She explained that “the type of class is not compatible with the voucher.”  So what exactly is my class?  Listen close, this is important.  My free flight voucher is classified as an “O.R.U” class.  On all the flights I tried to book, the only available classes were in ‘C’ and ‘K’ classes.  All ‘O.R.U’ classes were sold out.  They are sold out because the agent explained that there are only one or two seats available per flight.  Deciphering the reasoning that the agents gave to me yesterday, I can conclude that my special voucher is considered a non-revenue passenger, and if they can’t make money off of me, then they will restrict the heck out of any passengers that are using this type of fare.  And hence the policy (is it a policy?  I don’t know, but sure seems like it) that only one or two seats per flight are available for this ‘O.R.U’ class.

I went round and round with the agent and finally asked her to find me ANY flight from Portland, OR leaving in May or June to ANY destination that has availability with my special (useless) voucher.  And so she searched, and searched, and searched.  And guess what?  NOTHING.  No flights available with my special voucher.  So after four hours total on the telephone with five different agents, the bottom line is that my ticket is pretty much worthless and cannot be redeemed.  I stated this to her point blank.  She put me on hold, and returned with some news … she spoke to her supervisor, and low and behold she could suddenly book me on a flight from Portland to Las Vegas on June 21st, returning on June 23rd.  All I had to do was pay the taxes.

At this point I was desperate and just wanted something for all the time and effort I had invested in this endeavor.  Sure, fine, I’ll pay the taxes.  It came out to $87, which seemed pretty high to me for a flight that would only cost me $200 if I had booked it online.  She said it would be $39.77 flying down and $46.75 on the return.  It still seemed kinda high, but I accepted.  She quickly processed the flight and before I knew it, I had a confirmation code and she was trying her best to get me off the phone.

And finally, after all of that hassle, I have a flight somewhere.  Not somewhere I envisioned using this “free flight” for, but at least I could claim some sort of victory.  But alas, my victory is hollow and not fulfilling.  I checked my email receipt for my ticket, and found out that the total taxes I should have paid should only have come out to around $30.  Not $87.  Broken down, Spirit Airlines is charging a $15 fuel surcharge and a $25 phone agent fee.  Plus some other miscellaneous fees that are clearly NOT government issued taxes.  So once again I have been scammed.  Or have I?  With any thing in life, there are always fine print details.  And after spending more time on the Spirit web site after the fact, here is what I find:



Please remember, a Round Trip Future Travel Voucher can only be used one time with no remaining value after its use. It can only be used by the customer it was issued to and is only applied to the flight portion of base fare excluding carrier fees and excludes promotional fares, including $9 Fare Club bookings. It cannot be redeemed for cash and cannot be used for any other products including vacation packages, car rentals, bags, and seats. Round Trip Future Travel Vouchers must be booked within 60 days of issuance for travel on any flight dates available in the system. Voucher use is restricted to certain classes of service. Restrictions may also apply during peak travel periods and to certain destinations.

So there you have it.  I can’t really complain, because that passage above basically tells me what I have found out.  And what I have found out is this:  If you so happen to get one of these awesome Spirit Airlines future round trip flight vouchers, don’t get all starry eyed like I did and dream about using that ticket to fly out to Central America or the Caribbean, heck, probably even out to most major US cities on their destinations map.  You will just be disappointed and crushed into sadness and hopelessness.  Because Spirit Airlines will do their very best to not allow that redemption to happen.  They have spelled out that the ticket has restrictions during peak travel periods, certain destinations and the class of service.  Which I have concluded is pretty much every single flight.  And despite all I have done, all I get to show for this is a $90 round trip flight to Las Vegas, which I could probably get for the same price, or perhaps every cheaper, on the Spirit web site a month before hand.  Lesson learned, and please don’t make my same mistake.

And so I end this post as I started it.

Note to self:  if Spirit Airlines ever requests volunteers to get bumped and offers a future round-trip flight as an enticement, just pass.  It is so not worth the hassle!