Spirit Airlines Flight #1441
Gate: L3 (Originally L9 - Gate Change)
Scheduled Departure - 7:50AM Actual Departure - 8:05AM
Scheduled Arrival - 11:50AM Actual Arrival - 12:05PM
Delay: De-Ice Required
Equipment: MD-82 : N821NK (Digital Scheme)
Photo © Andy Jung
I arrived at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) Terminal 3 at 6:40AM for my 7:50AM scheduled flight to Ft. Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to visit a friend attending the University of Miami at Coral Gables for the weekend. Upon entering the terminal, I found myself directly in-front of Spirit's ticket counter with a line consisting of about 30 people, with 5 agents checking passengers in. The line moved constantly and I only waited about 10 minutes. Upon reaching the ticket counter, the friendly agent asked for my destination and ID. I chose a window seat and checked one bag. After about 2 minutes I was handed my boarding pass and informed that my flight would be departing on-time from gate L9 and that boarding would begin at 7:15AM. I thanked the agent and proceeded to the security checkpoint.
As I approached the security checkpoint, I noticed that the line was quite long and moving slowly. To my surprise, a very kind TSA agent informed me of another security checkpoint down by the American Airlines ticket counters that had no waiting, I gladly accepted his offer and was on my way down the terminal towards the American Airlines ticket counters and security checkpoint. The TSA agents working the security checkpoint were very friendly and explained the procedures. I placed all of my belongings into a container, placed them on the x-ray belt and stepped through the magnetometer. It was my lucky day, I didn't beep and (again to my surprise) was thanked by the TSA agent as I walked to the container with my belongings.
After passing security, I proceeded down the L Concourse towards gate L9. Spirit uses the Delta gates in the L Concourse as well as Delta performing their ground handling (baggage, De-Ice...). People had begun to gather at the gate, and I was satisfied that I had enough time to head to McDonald's and order a Big Breakfast with an orange juice. Upon returning to gate L9, I noticed a Delta 727 (ex Western) pulling into the gate at 7:15AM. Puzzled, I proceeded to look around for a Spirit Airlines agent, with no luck. Now, figuring that there had been a gate change while I was at McDonald's, I asked the very polite Delta agent about my flight to FLL and I was informed that the new gate would be L3. She then took the time to make a gate change announcement, even though she wasn't employed by Spirit. Way to go Delta customer service! I, along with about 20 other people proceeded down to L3, where pre-boarding (7:20AM) was beginning. While waiting for my row to be called, I finished my Big Breakfast, found my boarding pass and ID, and when rows 20 and higher were called, headed up to the door marked L3. I was notified that I was selected for additional security, again a pleasant experience with the TSA agent explaining what he was doing as he was doing it. He then escorted me to the door, thanked me, and off I was down the jetway.
As I boarded the aircraft I was greeted with a smile from the lead flight attendant and I made my way down the aisle to row 22, seat F. The seating arrangement is 2x3 and I was in the window seat on the 3 side. Being one of the last to board, I noticed that the flight was full, except for the middle seat, 22E. I sat down, buckled myself in and began to hope that nobody would sit in 22E. With luck on my side, that seat would remain empty for the flight. As I was waiting for push-back to begin, I noticed the de-ice truck spraying Glycol, the whole process lasted about 10 minutes, during which the flight crew came over the intercom and informed us of our flight time, 2:20, and the weather in Ft. Lauderdale. After about 10 more minutes of shuffling around by some fellow passengers, the flight attendants asked for the attention of those passengers sitting in the exit rows 20 and 21. The flight attendants gave a separate briefing to the passengers sitting in those rows, and then asked each passenger whether they were willing and able to assist the crew in the case of an emergency. Each passenger responded "yes" individually and upon the completion of this separate briefing, the general safety briefing began as push-back commenced. We taxied for about 15 minutes, where I found us number 1 for departure on runway 9L. Takeoff roll was about 45 seconds, with an immediate left turn on-course.
After departure, we climbed through the overcast layer (some bumps) up to our cruising altitude of 33'000ft. The flight attendants began their inflight service, which consisted of a drink and either pretzels or animal crackers. The flight was VERY bumpy the entire way, even causing the cabin crew to discontinue service. After about 2 hours, finally, word from the flight deck. They informed us that we were about 20 minutes out and would be in the gate in 25 minutes, a little behind schedule (no big deal). Descent over Eastern Florida, over the Everglades, with a very smooth landing on runway 9L using FULL reverse and brakes. Upon exiting the runway, taxi to gate H5 was about 5 minutes. I noticed a JetBlue A320, some USAirways A319's and various other airlines. As I exited the aircraft, I was again thanked for flying Spirit by the lead flight attendant as well as the Captain. I proceeded up the jetway to baggage claim, a very short walk actually. We waited about 10 minutes for our luggage, I called my ride, and I was on my way for a weekend of fun in the sun in South Florida.
All in all, I was very impressed with the whole experience. I have flown Spirit in the past, but this time was a definite improvement. I was very surprised how much better security was at O'Hare with TSA in control now, they were kind and courteous. The Spirit customer service agents could have handled the gate change a little better, but worse things have happened. The flight attendants were EXCELLENT, answering questions and talking with the passengers. I wish the flight crew would have kept the passengers up-to-date with the progress of the flight, but the only communication was on the descent, oh well. Leg room was more than adequate (I'm 5'7"), but it was definitely noticeable that the seat was worn, as the padding was minimal. I'm glad I didn't have to sit in that seat for more than 2:20. Overall, I would definitely fly Spirit again. The price was awesome and the service was right on track.
Hope you enjoyed, as this is my first Trip Report!!