Spirit Airlines flights are apparently cheapest to book at the airport.

You still have to book in advance for the best fares, so it means making an extra trip to the airport. What I've read seems to indicate that their "passenger usage fee" isn't charged at the airport ticket counter.

Spirit disclaimer

Spirit Price Summary

How much exactly do you save?

  • Is it just what they itemize as "passenger usage fee"?
  • For instance, if I see that fee as $17.99, would I pay $17.99 less? So the flight would cost $16.11 instead of $34.10 at the airport?
  • Is the same true of international flights?
  • It seems the answer is in the thread you linked to.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 5:24
  • 1
    @Relaxed: It seems that the thread being linked to is 13 pages long. Digging the answer out of that and presenting it here would be a worthy contribution for SE. Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 8:29
  • @Relaxed good catch. Actually the first time I did read through it all but got so lost in people's quoting the total fare they got and not the difference that I missed the exact quote.
    – Carl
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 16:08
  • 2
    I got benefited from this post. So wanted to confirm, it is indeed cheaper to extent of passenger usage fee. I purchased 4 round trip tickets from airport. Compared same with price I was looking online, total savings of $151. Thank you guys for posting it here...
    – user71290
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 5:11
  • There's a line item entitled Unintended consequences of DOT Regulations. Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 2:06

4 Answers 4


You save $18+ per person & direction

I went to the airport and booked the ticket posed in my original question. I saved the passenger usage fee (one person, one-way) = $17.99 cheaper at the airport vs. booking online. Spirit ticket booked at airport check-in counter

The airport staff didn't know the details. They had never seen such a deal and were excited to try it themselves - it is even cheaper than flying with an employee discount (non-rev).

Whether or not that passenger usage fee is charged is always shown on their website. It depends on the the type of fare: it generally is charged, but not for "$9 fare club" or for outbound flights that originate at non-US airports.

Other experiences:

  1. Got the same $18 discount.
  2. $27 discount: $14 at the airport instead of instead of $41 online.
  3. $43 discount: a multi-city flight that was $29 instead of $72 online. Firstly, I saved by booking a connecting flight as two legs: so I hoped to save $36 in passenger usage fees. But in practice combining both Spirit hacks brought the original one-way price from $96 down to $29 booked at the airport as a multi-city ticket.

Book at the airport in advance

When you find a good price online, take an extra trip to the airport. Go to the Spirit check-in counter and ask to book a flight.

  • You need to book for specific dates, routes and times.
  • It's handy to have written down the exact details. Check the online price just before you go to the airport to know what you should be getting.
  • Make sure you go when the counter is open.
  • Some people have reported long lines to book at the check-in counter but so far I've lucked out - try not to go right before a large bank of departing flights.

Spirit does this to save taxes

It seems they can get away with classifying the money they're collecting for the passengers facility charges as a fee for the service of booking online or phone, presumably saving them taxes. In oder for it to be classified as a fee, there has to be a way passengers can avoid it hence the airport trick.

  • 1
    I had an experience where the online price had gone up by about $30 a few hours before I went to buy it at the airport and the price I paid at the airport was about ~$30+17 cheaper than the online price. However, there was only one ticket available at that price -- I wanted to buy two, but I had to buy the 2nd at about $17 cheaper than the online price. What this tells me is that sometimes there can be an extra ticket or two left at the airport at older (and possibly cheaper) prices. So some of your extra discounts may have been similar to this.
    – nukeguy
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 14:25

The following answer from Spirit Airlines (extracted from the thread you linked to) seems to answer your question fully.

Dear Mr......

Thank you for contacting Spirit Airlines.

Fares purchased at the airport are not assessed the Passenger Usage Fee. As a result, it is possible the total fare may be less at the airport.

Please note, however, that our agents do not have access to web-based or $9 Fare Club fares.

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions or concerns.


Mark 62605 Corporate Consumer Relations Spirit Airlines, Inc.

So it seems that the fare in your example would indeed cost $16.11 at the airport, to the extent that it is available at all. Do note the bit about agents not having access to some fares, it means you can't always predict what the price will be with a subtraction. Either the same fare is available and that's the right computation or it's not and all bets are off.

  • That's the first part I was looking for, though that response is a few years old. I don't think they offer web-based fares anymore. All I can find is "$9 Fare Club" and "Standard" fare types looking at dozens of routes across their site.
    – Carl
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 16:14

For additional background for people who may be looking to do this, I recently purchased tickets using this same method on Frontier Airlines (which has a similar charge), and came across two complications.

  1. If you need to purchase baggage, realize you'll lose some of the savings, as you cannot purchase it at the lowest price (typically $30 for the first right now on the majority), because to get those savings it must be purchased online as you purchase your flight... and so is thus mutually exclusive to purchasing at the airport. I saved ~$40 total for my two tickets, but paid $8 markup on the one bag I needed (it costs more if you don't add it to your booking online within 24 hours). (Whatever you do, don't have the desk agent add it, as that was to cost $50) (Keep in mind that for all the budget airlines, all checked bags cost... as do carry ons, but the terminology leaves something hidden that some may not know... they have a separate class called personal items, which are laptop bags and such - items that can fit under the seat (they have specific definitions of what size they can be) - of which 1 is free. Still unless you're absolutely the most absolute bare-bones of traveler, you may well need a bigger bag to hold clothes and such])
  2. For Frontier at least, they sometimes have sales that use codes to bring about additional price reductions. However, the codes may be marked as online only... and so once again, it's mutually exclusive to buying at the airport. I lost another $9 total on this ($4.50 per ticket).

It still proved beneficial to buy at the airport for me. That said, those are some additional complications that may undermine it for many. In addition, despite reading it back to me (there was no kiosk I could find at KMCO, so I had to go through the line and do it through the desk agent), they still messed up my date of birth at booking, so be very critical that they get the right information exactly (there is a significant fee to change your name, though changing the birthdate quickly did not incur the fee thankfully). You do get 24 hours to cancel any reservations in the US for free, so theoretically if that happened you could cancel and rebook (though perhaps wait to cancel until you get to the airport, so at least there's less danger of the fare subsequently disappearing), but that's certainly a big hassle and expense. So make extra-sure they spell your names correctly.

One thing I seemed to find in my research on the flights was that the low-cost airlines do travel consisting of two legs differently: it appeared Spirit offered connecting flights with the doubled fee as Carl suggests (so you get about $40 back for a two part flight), Frontier only adds the cost once (so you'll only save $20 per ticket on the listed price [minus the differences mentioned above]), and Allegiant doesn't offer non-direct flights to be selected (so you have to book each one separately and thus save the $20 per flight). That can also be useful on the aggregator websites when considering how much the flight will end up costing using the airport booking method.

So it does work, and it does offer savings. But understand there are also some complications that some, such as a single tourist traveling alone, it may not be cost effective in the end. And you definitely have to be on guard through the whole process. So just throw it in as yet another complexity to trying to work together the cheapest travel option for your trip, but every little bit can help!


I went to Myrtle Beach airport this morning to purchase non stop spirit tickets for Dec 2, 2017 to Dec 10, 2017 from Myrtle Beach to Fort Lauderdale, the price was the same online and at the airport, all the years I have bought tickets at the airport they were always cheaper. Reading this letter tells me people at the airport have no of seeing passenger usage fee, what can I do they look at me funny at airport

  • 1
    Can you also make the answer more clear on what you mean? As it stands now it runs a high risk of deletion as not answering the question.
    – Willeke
    Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 20:45

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