When it comes to affordable airlines, Spirit and Southwest are two of the most popular brands. Each one is unique, and you’ll have quite a bit of a different experience with both. While searching for flights, chances are you’ve come across inexpensive prices for both airlines and wondered which one is better. Well, in this Spirit vs. Southwest review, I’ll break down the contrasts between each one and offer my opinion on which airline I believe is better. Check out the rest of this guide to learn more.
The Main Differences Between Spirit and Southwest
- Southwest allows two free checked bags, whereas Spirit passengers have to pay for additional bags.
- Southwest offers in-flight entertainment, whereas Spirit does not.
- Southwest provides snacks and beverages, whereas Spirit does not.
- Southwest allows a carry-on bag and a personal bag, whereas Spirit only allows one personal item. Any additional bags cost extra.
Spirit is in every sense of the word a budget airline. The company prides itself on providing super cheap fares by keeping its amenities à la carte. Here’s what you can expect when flying on Spirit:
Spirit lacks a lot in the baggage department. If you plan on paying the base price only and no additional charges, be prepared to only pack a very small bag that can fit under the seat in front of you. The personal bag that you bring can either be a backpack, purse, or laptop bag. The dimensions of your personal item must be less than 18″x 14″x 8. If you bring anything larger than that, you’ll be charged a fee.
Below are the various fees for overweight and oversized bags:
- 41 – 50 lbs. (18 – 23 kg) $35
- 51 – 70 lbs. (23 – 32 kg) $60
- 71 – 100 lbs. (32 – 45 kg) $100
- 63-80 linear inches (158-203 cm) $100
- Special items over 80 linear inches (203 cm) $150
Again, in order for Spirit to keep their ticket prices super low, they have to charge everything separately. If you plan on paying extra for a carry-on or checked bag, here are the weight and dimension restrictions:
- Carry-Ons: Maximum of 22 x 18 x10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm) including handles and wheels. If the airline staff feels as though your carry-on can’t fit into the overhead bin safely, they may ask you to check the bag.
- Checked Luggage: A maximum of 62 linear inches (length + width + height; 158 cm) is required. These measurements include the handles and wheels and a max limit of 40 pounds.
As far as entertainment goes for Spirit airlines, there isn’t any. The airline doesn’t offer any entertainment like movies or music for passengers. Furthermore, they don’t have Wi-Fi onboard. Currently, they’re testing Wi-Fi on a limited number of planes. Once the testing sessions are done, they’ll provide Wi-Fi prices for passengers. If you want to be entertained while you’re in the air, you can purchase a streaming package.
Food and Beverage
Not only does Spirit not offer inflight entertainment, but they don’t provide snacks or beverages either. That’s right, you won’t even get a peanut on Spirit. However, you have the option to purchase food or beverages on your debit or credit card.
Not serving snacks is unorthodox, but Spirit states that by not giving out complimentary refreshments, they can keep their fare prices low. Also, Spirit does not provide special dietary meals. However, they do have a vast variety of options that may fit your dietary needs.
Well, the good news is that Spirit isn’t stingy with point perks. They have a point system for frequent flyers. The program is called Free Spirit, and it gives passengers points for every dollar spent on their fare. Travelers can redeem flight points as low as 2,500 for any fare on any flight. Additionally, Free Spirit members can use points plus cash to pay for tickets. They can even combine their points within a points pool.
In addition to that, Spirit offers a Savers Club. Passengers who join this club have access to reduced price fares for themselves and eight guests. The membership also includes special rewards of up to 50% off checked bags and carry-ons for the Saver Club members and eight guests. The price for Saver Club is $69.95 for a year, $99.90 for 18 months, and $129.90 for a 2-year membership.
And if that isn’t enough, Spirit has its own MasterCard called the Free Spirit Mastercard. Cardholders can earn up to $40, 000 bonus points, plus a $100 companion flight voucher.
Southwest airlines has a lot more to offer their passengers than Spirit. If you’re looking for an affordable airline that provides a bit more amenities, Southwest is the best option. Here’s what you can expect when you fly on Southwest:
Southwest is extremely generous with their baggage. First starters, each passenger is allowed a carry-on bag plus a small personal bag. However, there is a limit to the carry-on dimensions. All carry-ons must be a minimum of 10 x 16 x 24 inches.
If for any reason your carry-on luggage cannot fit in the overhead bin, then you are required to check it.
In regards to checked bags, each passenger is allowed two check bags for free. Each one should be a maximum of 50 pounds and no larger than 62 inches in height, width, and length per piece of luggage. Any bags that go over 51 pounds or over 62 inches will incur a baggage fee of $75.
Unlike Spirit, Southwest offers inflight entertainment to passengers. The airline has a large variety of movies for travelers to watch during their flight, as well as live TV channels. For those who want to connect to the internet while flying, Southwest offers in-flight connectivity for $8. It’s $8 for a full day, so if you have multiple legs of a flight, you can use it for each leg. Also, inflight internet is free for all A-list Preferred members.
Food and Beverages
Southwest provides complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for flights that are over 250 miles. Typically, you’ll get pretzels and a soda on a Southwest flight. If you want a cocktail, beer, or wine you can purchase it using a debit or credit card. For longer flights, the flight attendants pass out extra snacks.
No Cancellation or Change Fees
Southwest is one of those airlines that’s easygoing. They do not penalize customers for changing or canceling their flights. When life happens, you can breathe easy with Southwest. They’ll actually refund you if your plans change. You can’t beat that!
Just like Spirit, Southwest rewards its customers with points as well. Their Rapid Rewards program makes it easy for you to earn points for any flight that you purchase. Not only will you earn points for flights, but you can also earn them when you make purchases through Southwest retail partners. Furthermore, there are no blackout dates and your points don’t expire.
Additionally, Southwest has its own credit card. Passengers can earn $40,000 points and gain three times the points per dollar spent on dining purchases. The airline offers two card options which are the Rapid Rewards Plus and the Rapid Rewards Priority credit card.
Spirit vs. Southwest: Which is Better?
Honestly, Southwest is the better airline overall. Not only do they have a pretty good reputation, but they offer so many amenities for free. You don’t have to worry about paying to check your bag or missing out on refreshments during your flight. The only downside is that depending on where you’re flying to, some Southwest flights might be a little expensive. However, they’re always running deals and special offers for flights. Southwest is known for their one-way, $49 flights, which is an incredible deal since even those types of fares include free bags.
On the other hand, Spirit offers flights for dirt cheap. You can probably find a flight for $25. But of course, you have to do the math. If you want to go somewhere that requires additional luggage, sometimes you’ll end up paying the same price for a Spirit flight as you would a Southwest flight once you pay for your bags. In that case, you might as well opt for Southwest because at least you’ll get refreshments and inflight entertainment included with your fare price.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spirit and Southwest Airlines
After reading this review, you probably have tons of questions. Well, you’re not alone. With that said, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Spirit and Southwest airlines:
Answer: Southwest and Spirit are not available everywhere. Although they operate in many destinations, they’re not the same as American Airlines or Delta. You can’t just pick a city from anywhere and be able to fly there on either airline. Both Spirit and Southwest operate in a limited number of cities throughout the USA and fly into a limited number of countries. As far as international destinations, both of them primarily fly into foreign countries located within the Caribbean and South America. You won’t be able to find flights to many Eastern hemisphere destinations.
Answer: On Spirit airlines, they’re only a few perks in addition to the main cabin. If you want to purchase better seating, you have the option to do so. For instance, you can buy Big Front Seats for $52. This is basically sitting in front of the plane and flying “first class”. For additional legroom, you can also purchase the exit row for $28.
On the other hand, Southwest does offer a bit more of a tiered experience. They have a Business Select cabin which allows those passengers to have priority boarding, as well as complimentary premium drinks, and other perks. They also have the Anytime fare type and the Wanna Get Away fare tickets. The Wanna Get Away tickets are generally the least expensive of all fares.
Answer: Absolutely not! Anytime you can find a flight for a cheap price, go for it. Obviously, getting a cheap ticket isn’t everything. You also have to think about your overall experience. But I’ve flown on both Southwest and Spirit and had pleasant experiences on both. If you don’t like the idea of paying for everything a la carte and not having free baggage options on Spirit, give Southwest a try. They offer so much more to their passengers, for less money than you might spend on Delta or American airlines.