In the beginning of April Spirit started service from Sky Harbor to Los Angeles. I had never flown Spirit and decided this would be a good day trip to try them out. Obviously Spirit is a low cost carrier with many negative reviews, and I was anxious to try them out for myself. When I went to Spirit’s website to book my flight I thought their website was straight forward and they throughout the booking process displayed all the different fees they charge from seat assignment to checking a bag so there would be no surprises at the airport. As I was only going for a day I did not need to check a bag and would only be traveling with my backpack which was free as long as it fits under the seat in front of you. The only thing I paid for was a seat assignment. Spirit has a few larger seats in the front of the aircraft that are larger than their regular economy seats called “Big Front Seats”. These were $15, regular economy seats were $10. The total for the flight was $73. For the PHX-LAX flight I chose a regular seat. For the return flight I decided to try out a “Big Front Seat”. The total for everything came out to be 98 dollars. The day before the flight I checked in online and printed my boarding passes. I arrived at Sky Harbor 2 hours before my flight was scheduled to depart and reprinted my boarding passes from a kiosk and then headed to security. Spirit operates out of terminal 2 at Sky Harbor along with United, Sun Country, Alaska, Boutique Air and Great Lakes Airlines. There were only 2 other flights departing to DEN and IAH this morning and the check in process and security took less than 20 minutes. Our departure time this morning was 952am. Our plane landed from LAX at 845am, and boarding began at 920am. This flight was only 50% full so everyone was onboard and seated by 935am. As I boarded the plane I was greeted by a very upbeat and friendly flight attendant. The seats on Spirit are very slim and do not recline. Also as opposed to a traditional seatback pocket they only had 2 straps that held the menu and safety information card. Other than this the cabin was very clean and 2 of the 3 flight attendants were very helpful and upbeat. At 945am the door was closed and we began to pushback. It took about 10 minutes to start our engines and taxi to runway 7L.
N514NK arriving from LAX
Spirit Airlines 599
Phoenix, AZ (PHX) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Scheduled Departure Time – 952am
Actual Departure Time- 959am
Scheduled Arrival Time – 1120am
Actual Arrival Time- 1103am
1 hour 4 minutes
View from 6A
Taking off 7L
After taking off 7L we made a right hand turn and climbed up to flight level 380. Spirit does not have any complimentary drinks or snacks, everything is for purchase including water. I did not purchase anything on either flight. The flight was only 1 hour so it went by pretty fast and soon enough we were beginning our descent into LAX. As we began our descent the flight attendants made an announcement about the Spirit Airlines Mastecard and the benefits of applying. Following this long drawn out announcement the flight attendants came through the cabin to collect trash and prepare the cabin for landing. A few minutes later we touched down on runway 24R. We exited at AA and then crossed 24L, after a short taxi we arrived at gate 31A.
I had about 8 hours in LAX before my return flight to PHX. I met my cousin who lives in LA for a few hours then headed back to the airport.
NK Check in at Terminal 3 at LAX
Unfortunately Spirit does not participate in the TSA Pre Check program which meant I had to wait on a long line at security. The line moved very slowly and it took about 30-40 minutes to get through the line. Once I was done with TSA, I got some dinner and then found a place to planespot since I still had a few hours to kill before my flight back to Phoenix.
N409WN flight 3259 from MKE
Spirit Airlines 626
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) - Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Seat 2A (Big Front Seat)
Scheduled Departure Time – 724pm
Actual Departure Time-750pm
Scheduled Arrival Time – 826pm
Actual Arrival Time- 849pm
Our A319 arrived late from DEN and it was also a crew swap. This fight was also about 80% full so with all of this we ended up pushing back about 30 minutes late. This flight also had an outgoing and enthusiastic crew. We pushed back and started our engines and began a quick taxi to 24L behind a WN 737-700 to MSY. At 750pm we began our takeoff roll. Once we were in the air we made a left turn over the water and climbed up to FL 350. This flight just like the outbound flight only had a buy on board service. Once we leveled off the seatbelt signed was turned off. About 20 minutes prior to landing the captain made an announcement indicating our descent into PHX as well as the weather, and our arrival gate and baggage claim information and he thanked us for flying Spirit.
View from 2A
Taxing to 24L
Shortly after takeoff
Final for 25L at PHX
N521NK at gate 2
I had wanted to fly Allegiant for quite some time and after finishing this trip I decided it would be a good time to try out the other low cost carrier Allegiant. Allegiant flies out of the Mesa-Gateway airport which is right near where I live. After looking around at a few possibilities and finally narrowed it down to Fresno, CA Memphis, TN or Eugene, OR. I wanted to go on a Friday and only had one more Friday before finals week started so I settled with Fresno. I would depart IWA at 621pm and land in FAT at 754pm. Then returning I would depart Fresno, CA at 834pm and arrive back at IWA at 10pm. Similar to Spirit, Allegiant also charges to assign a seat when booking your flight. The two seats I selected were $10 each way. Between the seats and the flight itself the total was $124. I booked the flight about 5 days before. The afternoon of the flight I get an email from Allegiant that my flight had been delayed 2.5 hours. At this point I would be getting back to IWA at about 1230am and was not sure if I wanted to sit and wait for the flight to leave as the terminal at IWA is very small and there is not much to see or do. After going back and forth if I should go or change my flight to the following Monday (Allegiant only flies to FAT on Friday and Monday) I got an update that the flight was delayed another 2 hours and they had switched my equipment from an MD80 to an A319. I was now seated in an aisle seat and the only remaining seats I could change to was an aisle or middle. At this point I decided I would go Monday and called Allegiant to change my flight since I could not do it online as I was already checked in. After spending 55 minutes on hold I finally was able to get my flight changed to Monday May 2nd. A few days later and it was time to try again. This time the flight was ontime at 540pm. IWA has a very small terminal and G4 is the only airline serving it. Earlier in the day there were flights to Wichita, KS and Ogden, UT (where my plane was coming from) but in the evening FAT was the only departure. There were a few passengers that were checking in bags but I was not since my trip was so short. TSA had 3 employees at the checkpoint. There were only about 3 or 4 people ahead of me on line. While Allegiant does TSA Pre Check, IWA does not have a Pre Check line. Once through security I had to walk outside to get to gate 2. It was in another building that resembled a trailer. Before long my MD80 pulled into the “gate”. After everyone was off the plane, boarding began about 10 minutes later with people who had purchased priority boarding followed by zones.
N883GA to FAT
IWA does not have any jetways. They were boarding this aircraft through the front door and rear stairs. I boarded through rear stairs and entered a very hot and 27 year old MD83.
Allegiant Air 146
Phoenix/Mesa Gateway, AZ (IWA) – Fresno, CA (FAT)
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Scheduled Departure Time – 540pm
Actual Departure Time-553pm
Scheduled Arrival Time –721pm
Actual Arrival Time- 715pm
1 Hour 22 minutes
View from 30A
Once everyone was onboard, the doors were closed and the flight attendants began the safety demonstration. A few minutes later we began our pushback and started the engines. A short time later we began our taxi to 30L. At 553pm the captain taxied our MD83 onto the runway and we began a fast takeoff roll. Immediately after rotation we made a right turn to heading 120 and climbed up to FL340. Similar to Spirit, Allegiant has nothing for free. Everything is for purchase. The flight attendants came through and then disappeared until our final descent into FAT.
Taxing to 30L
About 15 minutes before landing the pilot made an announcement about the weather in Fresno. The flight attendants came through the cabin once to collect trash. At 715pm we touched down hard on 29R. After heavy breaking we made a left turn off the runway crossed runway 29L and quickly taxied to gate 12. Deplaning was slow as I was sitting in one of the last few rows of the plane. FAT had a jetway and as I was exiting the jetway into the terminal with still about 5-10 people behind me, the gate agent had already started to announce the beginning of boarding for the flight back to Mesa.
Final for 29R
Taxing to gate 12
After less than 10 minutes in the terminal I once again boarded N883GA, this time back to IWA. This flight was about half full and we were ready to depart about 10 minutes prior to our scheduled departure time. The door was closed and we pushed back a few minutes later. Once the engines were started we taxied to 29R, the same runway we had landed on. We had to hold short for a C172 that was on final. The Cessna told the tower controller he could switch to 29L “So that maddog could depart, and with that we were cleared for takeoff on 29R. After takeoff we made a left turn and climbed to FL350. The flight attendants came through with the buy on board service. As the sun set as we made our way back towards Arizona. Descent into IWA was quick and we made a smooth landing on 30L at 919pm. As we taxied we came to a stop near our gate. At this point about 10-15 passengers got up and got their bags from the overhead bin and began to walk towards the front of the cabin. The flight attendant had to make an announcement that everyone needed to be seated before we could taxi. Once everyone was seated we taxied to the gate. Just like in Fresno deplaning took a while. I was one of the last people off the aircraft. IWA was a little busier than earlier when I left, 3 other G4 flights had arrived around the time we landed.
Allegiant Air 147
Fresno, CA (FAT) - Phoenix/Mesa Gateway, AZ (IWA)
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Scheduled Departure Time – 801pm
Actual Departure Time-803pm
Scheduled Arrival Time –931pm
Actual Arrival Time- 919pm
1 Hour 15 minutes
Back in 30A
Holding short 29R
Climbing out of FAT
Descending into IWA
Back at IWA
While both Spirit and Allegiant are both Low Cost Carriers and offer similar service and products if I had to choose between the two, I would definitely stick with Spirit. They had much better crews as well as newer and cleaner planes. When I boarded the Allegiant MD83 you really notice how old the plane is. The plane had dirt in the aisle and under the seats and all of the crews seemed to hate their job. I was glad that I was finally able to fly on two new airlines and experience what flying on an ultra-low cost carrier is like