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Flying Plus Size with Spirit Airlines: 9 Tips to Make Travel as Self-Care As Cheap As Possible

How bad do you REALLY want to travel?

That... is the question.

Would you sacrifice your comfort on a plane ride for the sake of reaching a gloriously beautiful destination?

Sunset at Samsara Cliffs Resort in Negril, Jamaica


Could you give up your relationship with 2 bags checked for free to spend a couple of days away from the chaos of daily living?

Would you go without free cookies and soda for some quality ME time?

These are all the questions one must ask themselves when considering flying with Spirit Airlines.

If you posed these questions to most of my friends, the resounding answer would be, “Oh Lawd! Why the #$%* would you want to do that? Haven’t you heard all the horror stories? Guurrrllll, please!!!”

However, finding ways to afford travel as self-care is vastly important to me.  With an abundant mindset, when this unspeakably good deal found me (thanks, Traveling Miya!), I had to take it!

So there I was, personal item in hand, taking deep breaths as I sat in BWI's airport terminal in anticipation of my 1st Spirit Airlines flight.

On that cold January morning, I went into the experience with my eyes wide open. I thought to myself, “How bad is this honestly going to be?”

The major work had already been done. All of my research before purchasing the ticket helped me overcome the major bone of contention with flying this budget airline - a la carte travel expenses.

Thanks to my handy dandy backpack, I avoided the aggravation of checked/carry-on bag fees.

I didn’t have to worry about being charged for snacks and beverages.  I had my own.

So the only thing left to worry about was the actual in-flight experience.

Here we go!!!

Flying to Jamaica

So, to give you some perspective, I’m 5’6” ish at a curvaceous 230 lbs. I also have a long-standing, polyamorous relationship with Southwest Airlines and Jamaica.

(How could you not fall in love with direct flights from BWI, 2 bags checked for free and quality time in paradise, right?)

Because I had heard so much about the cramped seating on Spirit Airlines, I decided to give both their standard and upgrade options a try.

With the money I had saved by purchasing my flights at the airport, I upgraded to the Big Front Seat™ for my trip down.

Other than my table not working, it was a comfortable experience. Like most business class seating, the chair itself was cushy and comfy.  No legroom complaints whatsoever.  

Leg room with Big Front Seat


I don’t typically have to use seat belt extenders on my flights and this time was no exception.

Being used to a more laid back flight experience when traveling to Jamaica, Spirit's flight staff did not disappoint. The crew on board were humorous, friendly, and accommodating.

Purely for research purposes (LOL!), I purchased the Buzzball’s Mile High Lemonade. Within it's tennis ball-like canister, flowed a tasty balance of tart lemonade and vodka. At $8 USD, this libation facilitated an additional sense of easiness during my 3-hour flight.

Overall, it was an uneventful plane ride. Thank goodness!

Added bonus - I flew through customs in a flash because I only had my personal item with me. While the other people from the flight were waiting for their bags, I was out the door and enjoying my rum punch!

Flying Back Home

The noticeable difference between my 2 flights was the seating. I still did not require a seat belt extender, but I have to say that the seating was T-I-G-H-T!

My hips were suction-cupped by the seat like a snug pair of jeans. There was no extra wiggle room. While it wasn’t uncomfortable or painful, I was extremely aware of the lack of seat space available.

The standard seating on a Spirit Airlines flight is waaayyy smaller than Southwest Airlines. Even at my height, my knees were less than an inch away from the seat in front of me!

Leg room with Standard seating


Unless you have a family emergency or something, I would not recommend the standard seating for anyone taller or curvier than me.

Use the savings from buying your ticket at the airport and packing a personal item towards purchasing the Big Front Seat™.

Otherwise, it was an unremarkable flight - which is a good thing!

Final Verdict

Travel is my form of self-care. For me to travel more frequently, I have to find great deals that keep me within my budget. Taking a chance on a cheap, direct flight to Jamaica with Spirit Airlines at the beginning of the year was well worth it.

Bottom Line - As with anything, know what you’re getting yourself into with this airline. Don’t just take the word of your friends or family. Hell, you don’t have to take my word for it! Do your research and make an educated decision for yourself.

Recap from the Series:

  1. Plan in advance. Follow your favorite cheap flight websites to hunt down deals. Scott’s Cheap Flights and Secret Flying are 2 of my favs.
  2. Avoid extra online fees. If you see a great deal with Spirit Airlines, save even more money by purchasing your ticket directly at the airport.
  3. Pack light. Find a bag or piece of luggage that meets Spirit’s personal item measurements to avoid carry-on/checked bag fees.
  4. Reduce checked/carry-on bag fees by paying in advance. If you are a chronic over-packer and know you can’t do just one personal item, pay for your checked or carry-on bag when you purchase your ticket (at the airport - see #2). The fees are much higher on the day of the flight.
  5. Purchase the Big Front Seat for comfort. If you are taller or a bit more on the curvier side than me, get the Big Front Seat™ for a more spacious flight experience.
  6. Sign up for the Free Spirit frequent flyer program. Not only will you be able to collect points for each flight, it also makes checking in less of a hassle.
  7. You won't be charged to print your boarding pass for international flights. Spirit Airlines will charge $10 USD each for printing boarding passes on domestic flights.  When traveling domestically in the US, print a copy of your boarding pass at home or a work before you go to the airport. With international flights, the airline is required to check your passport information.  Once my travel documents were verified, the boarding pass was printed free of charge.  
  8. Remember, there are no free beverages or food provided during the flight. Take some snacks and fill your water bottle prior to boarding to avoid paying for food/drinks/water on the plane.
  9. Go with an open mind and a smile. Your experience will be better than you think because you are fully informed of everything that comes with flying Spirit Airlines!

For more details on purchasing Spirit Airline tickets and personal item packing tips, click on the hyperlinks to other posts in the series.

Until next time, take the time to prioritize your own self-care consistently. Consider solo travel as self-care for some quality ME time!