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The Knock-Off First Class Seat That’s Really Not That Bad

The Knock-Off First Class Seat That’s Really Not That Bad
Joe Cortez

The FlyerTalk Forum is a pretty big place, so, when a particularly good piece of FlyerTalk comes across our desks, we put it on the front page for regular Reports From the Forum. Want to read more? Check out the Reports From the Forum tag, or head to the forum yourself to see what the FlyerTalk is about.

Is there a budget airline seat that’s better than a seat in first class? That’s what one FlyerTalker wanted to know about one seat on an ultra-low-cost carrier that veteran travelers book when they’re flying budget: Spirit’s BIG FRONT SEAT™. Asked FlyerTalker findark in this forum post, “Just thought I would solicit some community opinion before I do something I thought I would never do – fly Spirit .”


Spirit advertises their BIG FRONT SEAT™ as a larger and wider option “for those who prefer more space, in front of the plane.” Spirit’s BIG FRONT SEATs are located in the front of the plane, are wider than the average Spirit seat (18.5 inches), have 6 more inches of legroom, come pre-reclined and have 36 inches of pitch (pitch is, essentially the amount of space you have before your knees hit the seat in front of you: the distance from the back of your seat to the front of the seat in front of you).

If you’re not accustomed to thinking of airplane seats in terms of inches, all you need to know is that Spirit’s BIG FRONT SEAT is just about as large as the first-class seats you’ll find on many domestic airlines in the United States. But it’s much cheaper.

FlyerTalker findark—who was flying direct from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)—had already done the math: “While obviously the product is not going to measure up, even after paying for a carry-on and the Big Front Seat and self-catering something from the airport, it’s still coming out to half the cost of a [first class] ticket on [Delta],” findark writes. “That, combined with the fact that the [Spirit] flight is slightly better timed, has me strongly considering it.”

Does the BIG FRONT SEAT Measure Up?

Even if you’re accustomed to first class? After all, if you flew Spirit—especially during its early days when the ultra-low-cost carrier’s poor customer service and endless add-ons shocked even fliers who were used to flying budget—you may have also sworn off Spirit long ago. But, said the frequent fliers in on the conversation, if you haven’t flown Spirit in a while, you should know that it’s changed.

“Spirit has been on fire this year regarding on-time performance,” noted FlyerTalker MileageAddict. “Big Front Seat is the best deal out there. Saving hundreds per itinerary so long as flight times work,” added forum member Spanish. “Just be aware if you change your mind and check luggage, it takes 20-40 min in my experience.”

The consensus is that, while you won’t get the customary food, beverage service and reclining seats that you’ll find in domestic first class on American Airlines or United, you will get as much space. And if what you’re really looking for is space to stretch out, FlyerTalk agrees: The BIG FRONT SEAT isn’t a bad option.

FlyerTalker luckydriver, who’s a “huge BIG COMFY SEAT fan” also chimed in to say that booking the BIG FRONT SEAT is good in a pinch:

Last weekend… I did get the big comfy seat. I think [I paid] $139 plus $50 for the ‘first class’ seat. [It] was a steal just TWO days before the flight. Every other airline was [charging] over $400 just for the cramped seat. I realize the BIG FRONT SEAT is about 1 inch more narrow than [American Airlines’] (only line I researched 1st class) but for 50 bucks ill take it compared to the $700 normal 1st class flight on american.

He also added that, if you can pick your plane model, you might be in for a more comfortable experience:

I also wanted to note that the big comfy seat on the [Airbus A319], which is the summer plane, is not as comfy as the A320. There’s something weird in that my lower back feels more sunk in. You definitely can lean your head back far if you want to though.

And he closed out with a warning:

The only downfall I see about Spirit is, if your flight is delayed/canceled you are screwed. That happened to her once going from Philadelphia International Airport and [my girlfriend] had to wait until the next day and [take a] 12+ hour flight. Not fun. But that’s very rare.

The Verdict

Asked and answered. FlyerTalker findark took FlyerTalk’s advice and flew on THE BIG FRONT SEAT. Then he popped back in to give it a quick review:

Thanks for the feedback all. Went ahead and booked it – got an extra hour at the event in LA and saved $280 [per passenger by not buying Delta First Class] (minus cost of dinner and drinks I suppose)…
I would describe it as like domestic [first class] if every cut you could imagine your least favorite airline executive getting away with actually happened. The lack of recline makes the seats slightly less comfortable than normal, and the service has been severely curtailed. Still, the seats are a reasonably pitched 2-2 layout, and Spirit charges a quite reasonable fee for their selection.

FlyerTalk has spoken. Yes, technically, the BIG FRONT SEAT is an experience that’s on par with other first-class products. However, you get what you pay for. While you’ll have extra room, you won’t have any of the other experiences that come with shelling out double for first class.

Would you fly Spirit’s Big Front Seat? Share your thoughts in THE BIG FRONT SEAT forum thread. Have another question about Spirit? Feel free to ask it in the main Spirit Airlines forum thread.  For questions about other airlines, head here!


[Featured Image: Spirit Airlines]

View Comments (16)


  1. jjmoore

    September 16, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    What’s not factored into this equation is Spirit Airlines’ punctuality, which doesn’t measure up to mainline carriers. If I arrive 6 hours late, it defeats the purpose (this has happened to me a majority of the time flying them over a few data points). I would rather fly in coach on a carrier with better on-time performance and that has flights almost every hour on that route. Spirit, on more than one occasion, has caused me to have to purchase a walk-up fare after a cancellation or 18 hour delay. No thanks to Spirit…. even with their “big seats”.

  2. jonsail

    September 16, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I’d be tempted, especially if I could get a Big Front Seat on a non-stop vs. a connection on an airline with more amenities for its pax.

  3. meunger11

    September 16, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Yes. Please! If you think you’ll get a true first class experience on Spirit, please leave your mainline carrier! There are many people that will gladly take your seat, and even elites that will be happy to enjoy an upgrade in your stead while you ride in style on Spirit in “first class.”


    September 17, 2019 at 12:10 am

    Very Bad situation in certain parts of S.Africa.Looters are ransacking stores,several people have been killed in Johannesburg,The locals are after The Nigerian Truck Drivers (250 Killed in the last 4 years).Locals also do not like The Indians,Pakistanis,Bangladeshis and Refugees from Zimbabwe,etc
    It has gotten so Bad that Nigerian President has sent Planes to S.Africa to evacuate Thousands of them.In Return Nigerians have started looting South African Stores in Nigeria.
    Please Read The current situation on BBC News before going there.

  5. Jinxed_K

    September 17, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Just judging the seat, without hesitation I’d pay $50 for this than $70 for an ‘extra’ or ‘more legroom’ seat on the big 3.
    If you couldn’t care less for priority boarding or pre departure booze, then probably worth the money.
    But looking at the overall picture.. it’s Spirit.

  6. hfb606

    September 17, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Lipstick on a pig…

  7. BNE-KUL

    September 18, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Err, isn’t “Seat Pitch” one point of the seat to the same point either in the row in front or behind the seat in question? An easy way to visualise it is most airlines have a thin, disposable headrest cover that is velcro-ed to the headrest, so it’s the distance between these pieces of flimsy fabric from one row to another. While seat pitch does influence how much legroom there is, other factors especially seat type and cushion thickness play an important role in the actual distance before one’s knees hit the tray table (or other obstacle) in front.


    September 18, 2019 at 5:27 am

    Does it become a lie flat bed? If it doesn’t, you are attempting to compare apples and cabbages.

  9. DManzaluni

    September 18, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Yeah, it’s Spirit!!

    To give an example of how this might pan out, they will fly you on a red-eye from Los Angeles to New York, wake you up at 3 in the morning to deplane you half way along the route and make you wait in some lounge just to get back onto the same plane!! And this is after you have specifically called Spirit to make sure you wont get woken up and deplaned at 3 in the morning!

    More specifically, in my case Spirit had given me this assurance to induce me to buy the ticket and when I took a sleeping pill based on the assurance, they CALLED THE FBI ON ME when I couldnt wake up!!

    The FBI guy who came along was completely baffled as to why he had been called out on a sleeping passenger and there were no repercussions. Except that I will never trust Spirit again and will never fly them again.

    What if the seat is more comfortable? How could anyone trust Spirit not to try to deplane an unconscious passenger? Who is unconscious because of something they themselves assured? I can’t see it making much difference. We will NEVER fly Spirit again!

  10. bagwell

    September 18, 2019 at 8:15 am

    is a great seat, I’ve flown them 3-4 times and its well worth the extra money. Zero issues with Spirit’s on-time departure/arrivals.

  11. SamirD

    September 18, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Always neat to see another product in the mix. More choices are always better imo.

  12. ijgordon

    September 18, 2019 at 10:45 am

    For unrelated reasons I was recently looking at on-time performance metrics and was shocked how well Spirit has performed this past year.
    That led me to actually considering a BFS a few days ago for an upcoming trip. It’s a leg *home* from a cruise so the damage from any cancellation can be contained (we’ll also have insurance), but the bag fees on a 40-50lbs bag is >$60, so the savings aren’t as much, and I don’t want to wait in line for a half hour to check the bag.

  13. Gizzabreak

    September 18, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Sounds like a synonym for Premium Economy to me, albeit at a lessor price increment than most … at least until it becomes popular. With regard to the pitch and width quoted, these are both different to those quoted in Seat Guru … and while I accept that Seat Guru isn’t always (ever?) the epitome of accuracy or currency, it is the place most people I know go to as a port of first call … although perhaps not so much in future as they progressively remove the eminently useable ‘to scale’ representation of an entire cabin on which you can see seats in relation to ALL the toilets and galleys nearby, and replace them with a pre-school like ‘big picture’ of a couple of rows which leave you in no doubt that you have no idea of which seat/s look the best positioned without ‘scrolling’ the skin off your thumb (and trying to visualise how far you’ve moved since half a dozen ‘scroll rolls’ ago.) Suggestions for a ‘useable’ to scale replacement app’ would be appreciated. In the meantime who is right regarding the Spirit ‘Big Front Seat’ pitch and width, this article or Seat Guru?

  14. AAchem!

    September 19, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I doubt I’ll ever fly Spirit, but kudos to the marketing person who came up with BIG FRONT SEAT. Not only is it whimsical in word form, but “BFS” adds a layer of humor for the profane-inclined that is hard to beat. I don’t think the latter was an accident.

  15. o mikros

    December 28, 2019 at 1:27 am

    The biggest issue with NK isn’t their seats, or fees, or service. It’s the fact that their schedules are thin and if something happens to cancel a flight, you’re SOL on any connections or getting to your destination. Their on-time is fabulous, in part because they just cancel flights that are delayed — which means they’re not counted toward that metric.

    I have three personal experiences where friends or family asked about booking spirit, and in spite of my warning against it because of their reputation, the person booked with them and then had their travel plans ruined due to a last minute cancellation. Based on these experiences, I will never book NK even if cheaper and more conveniently timed unless it’s a nonstop and I can be 2-3 days late to my destination.

  16. FlaglerFlyer

    December 30, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Being close to 300 lbs., I can tell you the bug front seat is every bit as comfortable or MORE than any first class seat. Highly recommended

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