Flying stinks.

I mean, it’s a means of getting from A to B. The airline you choose scarcely matters.

The flight is not what you’ll remember about a trip. Think about your best vacation in the past five years. How was the flight? That’s what I thought.

I was reminded of this recently when frequent-flier guru the Points Guy raised eyebrows by naming Spirit Airlines the No. 7 carrier in America, edging out both JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines.

It’s an article of faith for many travelers that brash, no-frills Spirit is the worst. But I’ve been a fan for years, for one reason: Its prices are often rock-bottom. I’ve often flown from Minneapolis to Dallas for base fares as low as $19.

But surviving Spirit requires understanding some things.

• Don’t be that flier who has a meltdown at Gate E4 because you didn’t know that Spirit charges for your carry-on bag, and that it costs up to $65 if you didn’t prepay at

Besides, there’s a big advantage to that carry-on fee: faster boarding and deplaning on Spirit, because checked bags are cheaper. True story! Going away for a weekend where you can live with only the free personal item? Even better.

• Shop around, of course, but book through their website. Sometimes the listed fare, and bag fees, are lower if you join Spirit’s misnamed “$9 Fare Club.” The club actually costs $60 for a year, but it can pay for itself with one ticket. Join only when you need it, and cancel as soon as you don’t.

• Don’t take the bait on paying $15 extra for an assigned seat, unless, like me, you really don’t want the middle seat. I guarantee someone will be sitting in your seat, but you can just say, “Sorry, I paid extra for that window.”

• A word on late flights and lost bags: Spirit has made strides here, coming in second behind Delta in November with 89.75 percent of flights on time. And the Points Guy found that Spirit actually had the best record for not losing bags in 2017.

Spirit be with you!


Simon Peter Groebner is editor of the Midwest Traveler page. Instagram: @simonpeter6