Archive for June, 2012
One of the more curious beasts these days is Capitalism. When it bounds across the landscape, like a beautiful hound, in a rampant pursuit of profit, the results are admired by investors. Consumers hate the results when the only way a mutt can make a profit is by scrimping. So it is that Spirit has revolutionized the budget air travel market. Let’s be quite clear what has happened to the world of low-cost carriers. In the rarified atmosphere of the full-cost legacy airlines, executives pursue the business traveler. Even if it means flying at a loss, these airlines want to project an air of luxury. Spirit is only interested in selling tickets to the folk who want to get where they’re going for the lowest possible price. But, as with all these cost-cutting ventures, there’s a catch.
The only thing that you are buying when you pay your fare with Spirit is the seat. You pay for everything else as you go through the system. Even a drink of water on the plane costs you $3. Because it makes it money by having passengers in those seats, it has more seats in the plane than any other airline. That means significantly less leg room. The prices discourage you from carrying any luggage. Ironically, it doesn’t work. Spirit makes about 30% of its revenue from selling space to carry baggage. Its planes fly more hours a day. There are shorter turn-round times. Yet, when you put this together, Spirit averages 87.5% seat occupancy with each plane making more flights and so it makes more profit from a single airplane than any other airline. This is cheap flights with absolutely no frills the Spirit way.
So this is your big choice. Even Delta offers flights with a basic economy fare as it feels the need to compete with the low-cost carriers, but it still has leg room. Does your desire for cheap flights mean you don’t mind being crammed into a plane with everything separately charged? Or are you prepared to shop around, pay a little more and arrive feeling more comfortable?