Airlines & Airports - 12 min read

Is Spirit Airlines Safe? (Safety Records, Customer Reviews, & Cost)

Dennis Howard

Dennis Howard, Updated October 9, 2022

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In 1990, Spirit Airlines flew its first scheduled service between Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and St. Petersburg, Florida. Since then, Spirit Airlines has grown to be the eighth largest passenger carrier in North America. Spirit Airlines flights routinely serve destinations in the United States, the Caribbean, and various countries in Latin America.

Spirit Airlines has an excellent safety record and is one of the safest airlines on which you can book a flight. This airline has experienced no fatal accidents in the last ten years. In addition, Spirit Airlines became one of the first airlines to pass the FAA’s new certification requirements in January 2022.

You can be confident when booking a flight on Spirit Airlines that you will enjoy a safe and uneventful flight. This airline, headquartered in Miramar, FL, works hard to monitor and upgrade its safety record continually. Among one of the greatest safety points is the age of Spirit Airlines fleet. The average age of aircraft in the fleet is between six and seven years.

What Kind of Planes Does Spirit Airlines Use?


As of 2022, Spirit Airlines’ fleet is made up of all Airbus aircraft. Spirit Airlines flies three Airbus models. The types and numbers of Airbus aircraft in service with Spirit Airlines as of June 2022 include the following.

Airbus A319-100

The Airbus A319-100 seats a total of 145 passengers. The Spirit Airlines passenger configuration includes 10 business class seats which feature larger seats, and 135 economy class seats per aircraft. Spirit Airlines currently operates thirty-one of these aircraft.

Airbus A320-200

The Spirit Airline fleet has 64 of these aircraft. These airplanes are equipped with eight business class seats and 174 economy seats for a total of 182 passengers.

Airbus A320neo

The Airbus A320neo aircraft makes up a total of 56 aircraft in the Spirit Airline fleet. These plans can accommodate 182 passengers in 8 business class seats and 174 economy seats. Spirit Airlines currently has 81 of these aircraft on order.

Airbus A321-200

The Spirit Airline fleet is rounded out with 30 A321-200 aircraft. These airplanes seat 228 passengers with 8 business class seats and 220 economy seats. Spirit Airlines has 30 of these aircraft currently operational.

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Is Spirit Airlines FAA Certified?


All commercial air carriers must be certified by the FAA to operate in the United States. The same certification standards apply to all commercial carriers regardless of their size or their business model.

Spirit Airlines is certified by the FAA to operate as a commercial air carrier in the United States. The FAA does offer an additional endorsement to the standard Certification called the IATA Operational Safety Audit Certification. Spirit Airlines has opted not to seek this additional and very costly certification.

Several other major air carriers have also opted out of the IOSA certification, including Peach Aviation and Ryanair. This is not an uncommon choice for low-cost budget air carriers because of the overall cost of completing the audit.

Why is Spirit Airlines so Cheap?


Many people wonder how an airline like Spirit can operate offering such cheap fairs and still be a safe way to fly. The answer is to control costs in every way possible.

Spirit Airlines doesn’t offer a lot of perks, such as free drinks and food. In fact, selling drinks and food becomes a revenue stream for the airline.

Spirit Airlines also seeks to cover the cost of its ground base operations by charging for both carry-on and checked luggage, adding surcharges for special services such as in-person check-ins, and generating revenue from other services offered free by competing airlines.

In addition, by operating a single-type aircraft fleet, Spirit Airlines is better able to manage maintenance costs. Training and certifying aircrews also become more economical and efficient when only a few types of aircraft are involved.

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Dies Spirit Airlines Crash a Lot?

Spirit Airlines has, as of the date I write this, never lost an airplane or a life due to a crash or a crash landing. Many airlines find this an enviable history. Spirit Airlines has been operating for over 30 years and has not experienced a crash or life loss during that time.

That doesn’t mean Spirit Airlines has not had its share of emergencies and other problems. There are numerous instances where flights have been aborted or made emergency landings as a safety precaution for several reasons.

Many of these reasons are out of the control of Spirit Airlines and include such things as bird strikes and equipment failures that cannot be anticipated.

At other times, in an effort to operate as safely as possible, emergency landings happen when unknown odors or smoke are detected in the aircraft during flight. Heavy weather turbulence can also affect the aircraft and the crew’s decision to continue a flight.

How Many Spirit Airline Planes Have Crashed?


In thirty years of operating as a commercial carrier serving passengers in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Spirit Airlines has never suffered an aircraft crash. This record alone indicated that Spirit Airlines is one of the safest air carrier operators in the business. You should have no qualms about booking flights on Spirit Airlines.

Should I be Scared to Fly Spirit?

Of the many air carriers certified by the FAA in the United States, Spirit Airlines has an enviable record for safety. You should have no worries or reservations about booking flights on Spirit Airlines for your next trip.

You won’t be alone. Spirit Airlines is a large passenger carrier and is popular with many travelers because of its excellent on-time record and its cheap fares.

At its peak in 2019, Spirit Airlines carried more than thirty-three million passengers. In 2020, Spirit Airlines few more than 27 billion miles without a single crash.

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Why Do People Hate Spirit Airlines?


It is true that recent polls have ranked Spirit Airlines as the most hated airline in the United States. Most of the complaints by travelers who then respond to these polls are due to a lack of understanding of how Spirit Airlines operates.

Failing to read the policies and price structure before making a reservation is the most common problem. Spirit Airlines bills itself as a no-frills budget airline that offers very basic services for a cheap price.

Many of those who rank Spirit Airlines poorly point to the price scavenging policies of the airline. Your basic ticket price may be substantially less than other comparable carriers.

What most people don’t realize is that you will pay for almost all the other services that are offered free by Spirit Airlines competitors.

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Evaluate an Airline


Judging and rating an airline is a very personal and subjective measurement. Your expectations of service and value are the key foundation of your evaluation of the airline you choose. A poll of the most common factors that affect a person’s judgment of an airline includes the following.

Pricing

Cost is the most predominant factor in judging an airline, according to most travelers. Considering the state of the economy, this is an understandable consideration. However, it tends to work against the Spirit Airlines business model.

Spirit does advertise some of the most economical ticket prices. However, what many travelers fail to realize is that Spirit Airlines makes up for its revenue differences by charging for many services that travelers expect to be free.

Convenience

Second to price is convenience. Being able to get to your destination easily, on time, and without a lot of plane changes and layovers figures predominantly in many travelers’ choices. Spirit Airlines operates fewer routes than many other budget air carriers choosing to focus on routes that are the most profitable.

Fewer routes mean more problems getting to some destinations and may involve several layovers and plan changes. Many travelers see this as a negative and rate airlines down for these kinds of policies.

Loyalty Programs

Frequent travelers see loyalty programs as an offset to higher ticket prices. The concept of being rewarded by the airline for traveling exclusively on their planes gives many people a sense of getting better value.

Spirit Airlines does have a loyalty program that is comparable to other airline frequent flyer systems. You can earn miles and points in various ways, such as car rentals, using a Spirit Airlines credit card, and purchasing products from participating retailers.

Elite Status Benefits

Many airlines have programs to further reward frequent flyers with extra benefits that common travelers don’t see. These benefits can include seat upgrades, discounts, and faster loyalty program point accumulations.

Spirit Airlines does have an Elite Status program that works with their loyalty program that can qualify frequent travelers for extra benefits.

Spirit Airlines: Positive Reviews


By all accounts, those who really like Spirit Airlines are travelers who are more interested in cost than amenities. Most people who give good reviews to Spirit Airlines don’t mind the lack of freebies that most other airlines offer to passengers. The most often cited positives about Spirit Airlines fall into one of these categories.

Cheap is Good

Almost all of the positive reviews of Spirit Airlines begin with comments about the surprisingly cheap fares. Travelers who want to get where they are going while spending the least on flights cite Spirit Airlines as a leader in this category.

Customer Service is Above and Beyond

Many travelers report that the ground crews and flight crews of Spirit Airlines often go above and beyond what is necessary to ensure passengers have a good experience. From helpful gate agents to concerned baggage agents, many customers of Spirit Airlines give the company a thumbs up for customer service.

Efficient and Convenient

Customers of Spirit Airlines often remark about the efficient operation of the airline and the convenience of getting where you need to go without problems.

Many of these comments reflect travelers who don’t necessarily need to check luggage or have large and bulky carry-ons. These day-travelers find the convenience of a basic air ticket without the frills a favorite.

Spirit Airlines: Negative Reviews


Reading reviews of Spirit Airlines on the internet may lead you to believe that everything about this air carrier is to be avoided. Many comments and reviews are negative, with the majority falling into one of these categories.

The Fee Structure

Many travelers who are accustomed to flying with other airlines often comment about the nickel-and-dime approach taken by Spirit Airlines. The complaints center on being charged for every little option or choice above and beyond the basic ticket price. Many travelers feel like this comes as a surprise based on their experiences with other air carriers.

Communications

A lot of the comments found online about Spirit Airlines are negative when it comes to the company’s ability to communicate with customers. This is especially true when problems arise.

When flight delays occur, many travelers seem to have trouble getting up-to-date and relevant information from Spirit Airlines about the options available for changing flights.

Attitude and Respect

Many comments reflect a disinterested or hostile attitude by Spirit Airlines employees. This extends from ticket agents to aircrews and comes from a wide array of travelers. Many travelers reflect that it seemed as if the customers of the airline were the least important part of the job.

Is Spirit a Sketchy Airline?


It depends on your definition of sketchy. From a safety standpoint, Spirit Airlines has a record for operating safely during its entire flight history.

The airline has been awarded numerous safety awards by the industry and by the FAA over the years. From a purely operational standpoint, it would appear that Spirit Airlines is anything but sketchy.

On the other side of the coin, when it comes to customers and service, there is a lot of room for debate. If you understand the Spirit Airlines business model, you probably won’t be disappointed in your experience. Most travelers who comprehend how Spirit Airline functions don’t find its policies sketchy at all.

Unfortunately, travelers who are expecting the same levels of service and benefits that other airlines offer as normal will probably be either confused or disappointed in their experience with Spirit Airlines. These people will likely rank Spirit Airlines as a sketchy operation to avoid.

What Problems Does Spirit Airlines Have?


If you look at the statistics, Spirit Airlines receives the most complaints filed with the Department of Transportation. Most of the complaints concerned refund problems, baggage and reservation issues, and ticketing problems related to the online ticketing and boarding pass system.

Other complaints involved the fare structure of Spirit Airlines, customer service issues, and the oversell of reservations. There are many factors that can affect these problems, some of which are outside the control of the airline.

One problem that seems to plague Spirit Airlines is its computer booking and reservation system. Spirit Airlines is not part of any group or system used by other airlines. This means the only way to make reservations is through the Spirit Airlines system, which seems to be plagued by system problems.

The other major problem facing Spirit Airlines is the public perception that Spirit Airlines is an unsafe airline that is not very customer responsive.

Much of this perception is a lack of good marketing and communication with potential customers. Those who understand the realities of the company and its business model seem to be pleased with their choices.

Is It Safe to Fly Spirit Airlines?

Without a doubt, Spirit Airlines is a safe air carrier. From an operational and maintenance perspective, Spirit Airlines has one of the best records in the industry. However, decades of bad press and poor customer communications have left many travelers with a misunderstanding of the truth.

Poor customer service and a lack of communication rarely affect safety in the airline industry. These lacks do have a profound effect on public relations issues that create negative perceptions of a company’s overall performance. It is these deficiencies that have given Spirit Airlines a less than stellar reputation among travelers.

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