spirit plane

True, Spirit Airlines isn’t really from Latin America: their hub is in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. But they do fly direct to the following countries from the USA: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Peru. Here’s a link to their route map.

They now fly to four different destinations in Colombia. Last month I got invited to join their inaugural flight to Armenia, a Colombian coffee district city in the mountains. It was Friday the 13th and the Ft. Lauderdale airport had a bomb scare just as we were about to check in, but thankfully the bad luck didn’t hold. We arrived fine after a reasonably comfortable flight.

I say “reasonably comfortable” because Spirit is known as the most bare-bones airline out there in this part of the world. They even refer to themselves as the “RyanAir of the U.S.,” with a-la-carte pricing for everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a domestic flight or an international one; you’ll pay for every checked bag, every drink of water, and anything you want to eat.

You can pay extra ($60 to $150) to upgrade to a larger seat—4 across instead of 6—but that and a bit of extra legroom are all you get for the expenditure. You’ll still have to whip out a credit card for that coffee and muffin. (Though at $3 for that combo, some prices are pretty easy to swallow.) Seat pitch is about as tight as it gets on a plane in all the other rows, even with long flights to Lima, and there’s no movie or music system, so be sure to bring your own.

Once you get your head around all that though and do the math, it’s a pleasant airline to fly and a good value overall. Service on my flights was warm and friendly, with a bilingual crew making announcements in English and Spanish. The airline magazine is pretty thin, but at least there is one. Seats are leather and the Airbus planes are all widebody and relatively new.

Spirit flies to Cancun from Detroit, but all other flights to Latin America are from the main hub in Ft. Lauderdale. The good news on that is, you can fly into Miami or West Palm Beach and use the Tri-rail train to get from one airport to the other. Sure, that adds some time to your trip, but it’s pretty painless otherwise and the trip from Miami Airport to Ft. Lauderdale airport is only $5.50.

On some routes, like the one I flew to Armenia, Colombia, Spirit is the only game in town. Our flight in was such a big deal that people were waving up at the landing plane from the streets. At the airport there was a band to welcome the flight, a speech from the mayor and governor, and local TV crews out in force.

Spirit runs some unbelievably good fare sales now and then (like $59 each way to Colombia) if you can get yourself to their hub. You can pay to join their “$9 Club” to get advance notice on the best and cheapest deals, or get their credit card and join for free. That card also lets you jump the line at the airport—the equivalent of elite status without having to fly 25,0000 miles or more for it. Hey, this airline has some perks after all!

For more infor see SpiritAir.com

See other Latin American Airlines reviews