Everyone Hates Spirit Airlines Except For Me (and other people who like to save dollars)

People really, really, hate Spirit Airlines.

Really.

A lot.

Most people. Except for we few – we happy few: the ones who travel to get somewhere; the ones who save their dollars for the place they are going, not the faux-glamour of the airport shuttling process; the ones who know better than to attempt to luxuriate in the air of recycled farts trapped on every flight from American to Virgin.

You may be asking yourself, isn’t this Eliza just a contrarian who will take the opposing side to nearly every argument she encounters? And you would be right. That’s beside the point.

If you want to read or commiserate with others about how terrible Spirit is, go (literally) anywhere else on the internet and get on board with the other naysayers.

Reading through that could make you a little alarmed about the prospect of flying with Spirit. And yet! It is awesome. Why is it awesome, Eliza? Well, it’s not just because it’s cheap as dirt.Here’s what a lot of people who complain about Spirit may not understand: Air travel basically always blows. The only thing worse than being miserable on a flight is paying scads of money to feel that way. And sorry, but no “complementary” glass of lukewarm Slutter Home rosé and free peanuts is going to sweeten that deal.

I say this from vast experience – 50% travel for 4 years at my job has allowed me to unequivocally state that It Sucks No Matter What. That’s right: unless you are traveling business/first class, it may as well be the greyhound in downtown podunkville with all the friendly local yocals and drunkards that frequent such haunts. It really doesn’t matter what airline you are on. Perhaps you never noticed before. Perhaps you blamed the passenger next to you as opposed to the general experience. But here is what happens on nearly every flight:

  • Earwax digging and excavation
  • Flicking of said earwax
  • Toenail (fungal/afungal)  inspections
  • Toenail cleanings, clippings, pickings, with/without tools, always with sound effects
  • Nose picking and subsequent inspections
  • Wiping of boogers on places not Kleenex, especially the shitty fleece “free” blankets (thus the nickname Booger Blankets, obvs)
  • Nose blowing and inspection, into Kleenex, hands (YES) or of course Booger Blankets
  • Cat carrying (are you allergic? It doesn’t matter. Welcome to your new seatmate of death. Enjoy the recycled air!)
  • Porn watching (with and without headphones!)
  • Hand jobs (self-administered and outsourced) SIDEBAR:  Do you really think no one knows what you are doing? What is this, junior high? I mean, what is this – your honeymoon?

Anyhow, you get the idea. For some reason people get on board and suddenly transform their own little space into a bathroom. Or some other very private space. Except you’re not in a private space. And there is no fresh air. There are just the recycled farts and drunky mouth breathing.  So my considered opinion after years of flying every other week is: it pretty much always stinks. The list above includes my personal top ten pet peeves, but I’m sure you have your own; to say nothing of the general indignities of air travel such as cramping, restricted bathroom access, and other slight irritations. And don’t get me started on the lecherous looks you can look forward to as a solo female traveler. That’s marinating for a future rant.

Like I said, the only thing worse than experiencing the above is overpaying for that experience. And you can pay even more to avoid those experiences (first class, private jet, etc) but for the rest of us non-suckas, there’s Spirit!

Of course the most enticing aspect of Spirit Airlines is the price. At Chez La Femme Eliza, we are pretty frugal with just about all our dollars (except our grocery habit) (and even that, I’m trying to reign in. If you’re in the same boat, you need a budget. It changed our life – seriously)

The first time we flew Spirit, I was able to get 4 tickets from Houston to Oakland (San Francisco area) for under $500. That’s roundtrip. We have scored roundtrip tickets to Chicago for about $80 a person. And our most recent experience was flying to Costa Rica for family vacay for about $140 a person RT, and that wasn’t even the best deal I could have gotten. So – number one reason Spirit’s great for us – it’s CHEAP. That being said, we pack light, we do our bags in advance online (it’s actually cheaper if you check a bag ahead of time online). But the “personal item” they allow you for free? Is actually the size of a small backpack. You can check out some YouTube videos on that for an idea of the proper bag size. Furthermore, for families with lap infants, you are permitted a diaper bag and let me tell you – we have taken some HUGE diaper bags on board. Never a peep from the staff. Do you have a baby? Do you access to one you can borrow? Then you can probably take an extra and bigger bag onboard with you.

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Flying to Chicago in February. We decided to save money by wearing all the clothes instead of checking a bag. Don’t let this happen to you.

One word on the staff – their customer service gets a terrible reputation. Every single interaction we have had has been incredible with them! I’m actually astonished to see some of the reviews that exist out there. I can remember when Southwest was starting out and they had a similar reputation. From what I can tell, Spirit has the same sort of smart-ass mentality that Southwest used to have (back when they were cool. BURN!) I’m sure at times it can be annoying, but I enjoy it. This may come as a shock but – I really like smartassery. I’d way rather have that than some fake-niceries from a more expensive airline. When people complain about flight attendants and gate agents being rude, they must not travel that often. MOST OF THEM ARE RUDE. They work in probably the most thankless job EVER and are frequently confronted with a bunch of drunk and entitled idiots who constantly endanger their own safety and the safety of others. I would be rude too.

Another fun Spirit point: Are you chronically late? Are you a musician or artist or some other personality who struggles making sense of confusing concepts like time and minutes? If so, Spirit is for you. You can be late to the airport with no stress. Your flight is usually delayed. (I have noticed they are improving on this though, so don’t take that to the bank).  So, whether you suffer from procrastination or you really enjoy it as we do in our family, you can pretty much be assured you’ll make your flight!

UNLESS.

You got a non-nonstop. Don’t do that. Get nonstop. First of all, it’s better. And secondly, you are pretty much guaranteed to miss your connection if you don’t. So, just get nonstops. And also, make sure you have some buffer between arrival/departure times and whatever commitments may exist since they are indeed notorious for delaying flights. But as I said – it’s been improving lately.

Do a little research as I’m not the only one who feels this way. There are some good pointers out there — heels first travel seems to be in my Frugality-At-All-Costs mind of thinking. Oh and a lot of people complain about no water onboard but 1) they will bring you a cup of water for free if it’s for a medication and 2) carry an empty water bottle at airports and fill it at faucets or drinking fountains. There, I just saved you like $15 from airport water.

In closing: recycled farts and Booger Blankets are just a part of airplane travel in general. So suck it up, save your dollars, and get on board with spirit.

 

publish what you preach

Imagine you are a publisher of a known and prominent family magazine with nearly endless potential readers. You know the type: weekly or monthly periodicals that lurk in the corners of restaurants, bars, grocery stores, parks, and other public places – most likely nationally syndicated yet somehow personalized according to each city — like this, for example, or this. However, Houston Family Magazine seems to be pretty specific to this city, which makes my annoyance with their February cover all the more profound. Partly because I live in Houston and partly because of other stuff that I am going to rant about… rightnow.

 

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Nothing screams body confidence like a face full of makeup

Leaving aside the inexplicable choice to plaster *a child* in more makeup than most Miss America contestants wear (for now), let’s focus on the primary headline of the cover:

Teaching kids to be body confident. An admirable goal indeed:  based off the choice of cover photograph, one that can apparently be achieved by slathering your little one in something which actually changes their appearance with makeup (in this case, looks like they went full-on 80’s Mary Kay — we are in Texas, after all. No accounting for taste I guess) and a fair amount of quality time up close and personal with some hot rollers for that special Victoria’s Secret voluminous curl every 8 year old girl craves. (Oh don’t worry though — they’re “good” curls)…

You may be looking at the above and thinking, “Hey, what’s the big deal? So she’s wearing a lot of makeup. It’s not as if oversexualization of young girls is predominant in our society”

But wait! Let’s read the article before we rush to any harsh judgments…

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seems like a better cover choice to me…

Oh. snap. Listen I’m sure that race had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to have a conventionally beautiful blond prostitot on the cover, despite the fact that the second picture is 1) appropriate to the article and 2) adorable but let’s explore the idea just for a second.

While Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country (yay!) it is sadly one of the most segregated (boo!).  Hopefully I shouldn’t have to explain why the former is awesome and the latter is not. But suffice it to say that as a city, Houston has a long way to go in terms of improving racial tensions, not unlike the rest of the nation.

This morning I got my beautiful daughter ready for school picture day. Her caramel skin was gorgeous and glowing against her lacy white dress –  always reserved for special occasions. Her hair was an irresistibly intricate puff of curls and kink, soft and strong, haloing all around her face. It’s been in braids for about 2 weeks now, and last night after I took it out I begged her to wear it as it was – ‘Just like Esperanza!’ – I coaxed her. She bounced out of the house – confident and happy.

Later in the day, around noon, I realized I had neglected to send a piece of paper that was due in with her for re-enrollment. As luck would have it, I approached the office at the same moment she was walking by with her class and was dismayed to see that her hair had been put into a ponytail – halfassedly, so maybe she did it herself. I pouted when I saw it and wailed, Please tell me you left it down for picture day! She winced and said, It was too messy, Mama.

Whether or not she came to that conclusion on her own will remain to be seen. But I know one thing – every time she looks in the mirror and wonders aloud how she would look with straight hair, or complains about her curls, there is no amount of maternal coaxing that can compensate for images like the one on the cover chosen by Houston Family being constantly upheld as the ultimate standard for beauty. And that breaks my heart.

How To Prevent Yourself From Writing

#1. Create a deadline.

#2. Start a blog.  Contemplate your first blog entry.

#3. Stall out once you realize your first blog entry may define your entire blog, and, possibly, redefine the internet.  Collapse under the pressure.

#4. Innocently download this game after you got a free iTunes download card from Starbucks (click at your own risk).

#5. One year later, realize you have paid for webspace you never used.

#6. Contemplate your first blog entry.

#7. When in doubt, always apply what you have learned from a year of perusing Pinterest:  Everything Looks Better In List Form.