When looking to book a flight, you may be trying to decide between low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines and legacy airlines like United. Both have their pros and cons regarding aspects like cost, amenities, routes, and more.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Spirit tends to offer cheaper base fares but charges more fees, while United is pricier upfront but offers more amenities and route options included.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare Spirit and United across key factors like cost, baggage fees, legroom, routes, customer service and more to help you determine which carrier is a better fit for your next trip.
Cost and Fees
When comparing Spirit Airlines and United Airlines, one of the key factors to consider is the cost and fees associated with each airline. Both airlines offer competitive fares, but there are some differences when it comes to additional fees.
Spirit Airlines is known for its low base fares, often offering some of the lowest prices in the industry. However, it’s important to note that these low fares usually do not include any additional services or amenities.
On the other hand, United Airlines generally has higher base fares, but they do include certain amenities such as in-flight entertainment and complimentary snacks.
When it comes to baggage fees, Spirit Airlines has a reputation for being more strict and charging additional fees for carry-on and checked bags. They have a “Bare Fare” pricing model where passengers are only allowed to bring one personal item for free.
Any additional bags or larger carry-ons will incur an extra fee. United Airlines, on the other hand, typically allows one carry-on bag and one personal item for free, with additional fees for checked bags.
It’s worth noting that baggage fees can vary depending on the specific flight, so it’s always a good idea to check the airline’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Seat Selection and Other Ancillary Fees
Both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines charge additional fees for seat selection. However, the fees can vary depending on the type of seat and the specific flight. Spirit Airlines offers a range of seat options, including standard seats with minimal legroom and larger “Big Front Seats” for an additional fee.
United Airlines also offers different seat options, such as Economy Plus seats with extra legroom, which come at a higher cost.
In addition to seat selection fees, both airlines may have other ancillary fees for services such as priority boarding, in-flight Wi-Fi, and flight changes. These fees can add up, so it’s important to consider them when comparing the overall cost of your flight.
When it comes to cost and fees, it ultimately depends on your individual travel preferences and needs. If you’re looking for the absolute lowest fares and don’t mind paying extra for additional services, Spirit Airlines may be a good option for you.
On the other hand, if you value included amenities and are willing to pay slightly higher base fares, United Airlines may be a better fit. It’s always a good idea to compare prices and read reviews before making a decision.
Amenities and Onboard Experience
Legroom and Seat Size
When it comes to legroom and seat size, both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines have their differences. Spirit Airlines is known for its no-frills approach, offering a more compact seating arrangement compared to United Airlines.
On Spirit Airlines, the seats are generally narrower with less legroom, making it a bit cramped for taller passengers. However, for shorter flights, this might not be a major concern. On the other hand, United Airlines provides a more spacious seating arrangement, especially in their Economy Plus section, which offers extra legroom for a fee.
If you prioritize comfort and legroom, United Airlines might be the better choice for you.
In-flight Entertainment and WiFi
When it comes to in-flight entertainment and WiFi, United Airlines takes the lead. United Airlines offers a wide range of entertainment options, including movies, TV shows, and music, on their personal seatback screens.
They also provide WiFi on most of their aircraft, allowing passengers to stay connected and browse the internet during their flight. On the other hand, Spirit Airlines does not offer personal seatback screens or WiFi on their planes.
However, they do have a selection of movies and TV shows available for streaming on passengers’ personal devices through their entertainment app. If in-flight entertainment is important to you, United Airlines might be the better option.
Food and Beverages
When it comes to food and beverages, both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines have their own approach. Spirit Airlines is known for its low-cost model, which means they charge for food and beverages on board. They offer a selection of snacks and drinks for purchase during the flight.
On the other hand, United Airlines provides complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages on most of their flights. They also offer a variety of meal options for purchase on longer flights. If you prefer to have complimentary snacks and beverages during your flight, United Airlines might be the better choice for you.
Route Maps and Flight Schedules
When comparing Spirit Airlines and United Airlines, it is important to consider their respective route maps and flight schedules. Both airlines offer a wide range of domestic and international routes, ensuring that travelers have plenty of options to choose from.
Spirit Airlines has a strong presence in the United States, with numerous domestic routes connecting major cities and popular vacation destinations. From coast to coast, Spirit Airlines offers flights to cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami.
Their route map also includes smaller regional airports, allowing travelers to reach destinations off the beaten path.
On the other hand, United Airlines has an extensive domestic network that covers all 50 states. With hubs in major cities like Houston, Chicago, and Denver, United Airlines offers a wide range of domestic flights to both popular and lesser-known destinations.
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, United Airlines provides convenient options for domestic travel.
When it comes to international travel, United Airlines has a significant advantage over Spirit Airlines. United Airlines operates flights to destinations all around the world, including Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia.
With their extensive global network, United Airlines is a great choice for travelers seeking international adventures.
While Spirit Airlines primarily focuses on domestic travel, they do offer a limited number of international routes. These routes typically connect major U.S. cities to popular vacation destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option for international travel, Spirit Airlines may be a good choice.
Flight frequency is an important factor to consider when comparing airlines. Both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines offer multiple daily flights on popular routes, ensuring that travelers have flexibility when it comes to departure and arrival times.
United Airlines, as a larger carrier, tends to have more frequent flights on most routes. This can be advantageous for travelers who prefer a greater selection of departure times or need to book last-minute flights.
Spirit Airlines, while offering fewer flights on some routes, still provides a reliable schedule with options for travelers.
It is worth noting that flight schedules can vary depending on the time of year and demand. It is always a good idea to check the airlines’ websites or use a flight search engine to find the most up-to-date information on flight schedules and availability.
Customer Service and Reliability
Customer Service Ratings
When it comes to customer service, both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines have their strengths and weaknesses. According to various customer review websites, United Airlines generally receives higher ratings for its customer service compared to Spirit Airlines.
United Airlines has invested in improving its customer service in recent years and has made efforts to enhance the overall flying experience for its passengers. On the other hand, Spirit Airlines is known for its no-frills approach and offers a more budget-friendly option for travelers.
While Spirit Airlines may not offer the same level of personalized service as United Airlines, it can still meet the needs of budget-conscious travelers who are willing to compromise on certain amenities.
When it comes to on-time performance, United Airlines has a slight advantage over Spirit Airlines. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, United Airlines has a higher percentage of flights that arrive on time compared to Spirit Airlines.
However, it’s important to note that on-time performance can vary depending on factors such as weather conditions and air traffic control delays. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check the latest flight status before your departure to ensure a smooth travel experience.
Both Spirit Airlines and United Airlines have their own cancellation policies in place. United Airlines offers a more flexible cancellation policy compared to Spirit Airlines. United Airlines allows passengers to make changes or cancel their flights within 24 hours of booking without incurring any fees, as long as the departure date is at least seven days away.
Spirit Airlines, on the other hand, has a more restrictive cancellation policy and charges a fee for any changes or cancellations made to the booking. It’s important to review the specific terms and conditions of each airline’s cancellation policy before making a booking to understand the potential fees and restrictions.
In summary, Spirit Airlines tends to offer cheaper base fares at the cost of charging fees for extras, while United provides more amenities and reliability at a higher overall cost. Spirit gives you control over what you pay for, while United bundles more services into the ticket price.
If you’re looking to travel light and save money above all, Spirit provides a bare-bones experience that gets you from point A to B. But flyers who prioritize comfort, schedule flexibility, and inclusive services may find United to be worth the additional cost.