The democratization of air travel has made it possible for people on a tight budget to fly. Many people are grateful to low cost carriers for making the skies more accessible. There is work to be done if you want to get the most economical rates.

The author lives just eight miles away from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (LBE) in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and an hour's drive from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), and she wants to master the art of flying on the cheap with Spirit Airlines.

I have enough time to do it. I have a new pre-retirement job that gives me a lot of time to analyze Spirit's inventory and dynamic offers. The challenge is enjoyable. Here are some tips for first-timers.

Purchase your Spirit ticket in-person at the airport (if you can)

A promo code is sent out by spirit. I always check my inbox before starting any fare searches. The games start on the Spirit app. Let me show you how it works.

I'm going to fly to Florida in the fall. I was able to get a one-way fare from Pittsburgh for $39 a few months ago. The price for the return flights was $178 each. I kept an eye on the app.

For a while, the $178 fare was stagnant. My perseverance paid off. Six weeks before my desired travel date, the price dropped to $108 for a one-way return fare.

I will be able to score a cheaper price if I purchase the ticket in person at the counter at LBE. I drove ten minutes to the airport.

The ticket dispensers at LBE are similar to the ones you would find in a meat deli. Everyone in line is asked to fill out a form to make sure they are ready when the call comes. The line is moving thanks to this protocol.


The line at the airport was long last week when I purchased the return from Florida. They were only on number 12. The man was waiting for his turn. He yelled "bingo" when they called his number, and then asked for a half pound of ham. Everyone had a good laugh.

The thing about flying is that. People don't judge you for wanting the best food. People love a good deal.

The ticket counter at LBE is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Don't wait until the last minute. The tickets are usually removed from the dispensers by a staff member at about 3:30pm.

I was rewarded for my hard work when my number was called. I was able to get a fare of just $84 one way.

Spirit Airlines' counter at LatrobeFlying solo? If you don’t mind a middle, don’t pick a seat

This type of ticket doesn't include seat selection. That is okay by me. I usually don't pay for the privilege.

If you want to get a window or an aisle, you can pay for it. I could have chosen an aisle or window seat for as little as $8 when booking the Pittsburgh-Orlando flight.

A view out the aircraft window from a window seat. A portion of the seatback in front of the passenger is also in this scene.

The price for an exit row seat was $26.

When booking online, a lot of people get confused because they think they have to pick a seat when they see the seat map. Unless you want to sit next to your friends and family, you don't have to pick a seat. You don't need to use the seat selection screen to skip it. If I don't get a seat before the flight, I get it at the airport. Even in the middle seat, I have enough room to move my legs.

Even on the day of travel,spirit will try to get you to upgrade. Push notifications will be a part of your journey.

On the day of travel, some Spirit staffers might try to accommodate people who are flying together even if they don't pay for seats. But that is not a sure bet.

Become a packing pro

The baggage fees need to be taken into account. It seems as if the fees have gone up a lot. For the MCO-LBE flight, the carrier asked for $57 for a bag that measures up to 62 linear inches and weighs no more than 40 lbs. They really do mean it. You will pay more money if it is an ounce heavier. I would have paid $62 for a carry-on bag that was no bigger than 18 x 10. They put a premium on the convenience of carrying a bag.

I have found ways to operate within the bag requirements. It's possible to carry one personal item free of charge with your ticket. Ladies, that includes your purse, must be no bigger than 18 x 14 x 8′′. You will have to pay for a carry-on if you keep your purse inside. I believe it can be done.

Add a carry-on or checked bag when booking your ticket online or through the app. That is where you will find the best price.

If you decide you need to add a bag after booking, go back to the website or app at least a week before your flight to pay the ancillary fees. Baggage fees go up two days before a flight.

You will pay a hefty price each way if you wait until you get to the airport.

A screenshot of the Spirit Airlines inflight menu

Buy-on-board snacks are sold by Spirit. Bring your own nibbles if you want to watch your pennies.

If you educate yourself in advance, you can get an exceptional experience for the price.

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