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Weird Question: AA vs NK (Spirit Airlines)

Weird Question: AA vs NK (Spirit Airlines)

Old Dec 7, 19, 1:59 am
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Weird Question: AA vs NK (Spirit Airlines)

Hi Everybody,

I know this may constitute as a weird question, and I know it is like comparing apples to oranges, but still - I'll go ahead and post the following question for my son, who will visit the US in about a month (to visit some business schools he has been accepted into).
He is oneworld ruby member, and needs to fly from NYC to ORD. All legacy carriers cost pretty much the same, so obviously among them he prefers AA (where he'll have priority checkin and free bag). However, a Main Cabin ticket in AA costs the same as an all-inclusive ticket on a direct Spirit Airlines flight including all possible addons (baggage, carry-on, priority boarding, and big front seats - which are somewhat similar to domestic First). Just for the comparison - the AA main cabin ticket costs $124; the NK ticket (with all the additions) costs $120; and AA first class ticket costs $230. Also, the two flights depart 5 minutes apart.

As such, my son is currently debating whether he should take the NK flight, as the value for money seems better. He does not need the AA flight to retain/upgrade his status. What do you think?

Thanks

(BTW - this seems like the best place to publish this question, as there is no NK forum).
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Old Dec 7, 19, 4:40 am
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Unless you're saving a ton of money AND have very good travel insurance, you should avoid Spirit Airlines. When everything is running well, they're adequate. When something goes wrong, however, it can be a disaster.

Spirit serves 75 destinations with 143 airplanes (per Wikipedia). In many cases, there is only one flight a day. That's the case with between New York (LGA) and Chicago (ORD). Because Spirit does not interline with any other carriers. If your flight is delayed or canceled, the only thing Spirit will offer is a refund or a place on the next available Spirit flight. That means that if his flight gets canceled, your son might not get a seat until the following day (or longer if that flight is booked).

In contrast, American serves 350 destinations with 941 mainline aircraft. Between LGA and ORD, it looks like there are at least 10 nonstops daily. A flight cancelation on AA isn't going to be as big of a hassle. A morning flight cancelation still leaves tons of space to get to Chicago on the same day.

Originally Posted by gordo6 View Post
(BTW - this seems like the best place to publish this question, as there is no NK forum).
Spirit threads are located in the "Other North and South American Airlines" forum.

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/othe...-airlines-472/
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:08 am
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Originally Posted by writerguyfl View Post
Unless you're saving a ton of money AND have very good travel insurance, you should avoid Spirit Airlines. When everything is running well, they're adequate. When something goes wrong, however, it can be a disaster.

Spirit serves 75 destinations with 143 airplanes (per Wikipedia). In many cases, there is only one flight a day. That's the case with between New York (LGA) and Chicago (ORD). Because Spirit does not interline with any other carriers. If your flight is delayed or canceled, the only thing Spirit will offer is a refund or a place on the next available Spirit flight. That means that if his flight gets canceled, your son might not get a seat until the following day (or longer if that flight is booked).

In contrast, American serves 350 destinations with 941 mainline aircraft. Between LGA and ORD, it looks like there are at least 10 nonstops daily. A flight cancelation on AA isn't going to be as big of a hassle. A morning flight cancelation still leaves tons of space to get to Chicago on the same day.



Spirit threads are located in the "Other North and South American Airlines" forum.

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/othe...-airlines-472/
All this over $5.00?
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:17 am
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Originally Posted by Dallas49er View Post
All this over $5.00?
The Spirit fare for the, "big front seat," (similar to AA domestic first), with all the add-ons (luggage included) is $120
The AA main cabin fare is $124. AA domestic first is $230.

I could certainly see why someone would be tempted, and if everything is going well it might be worthwhile. But is that a gamble he is willing to take?
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:24 am
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Originally Posted by aztimm View Post
The Spirit fare for the, "big front seat," (similar to AA domestic first), with all the add-ons (luggage included) is $120
The AA main cabin fare is $124. AA domestic first is $230.

I could certainly see why someone would be tempted, and if everything is going well it might be worthwhile. But is that a gamble he is willing to take?
OP said the traveler had status, so in essence, has an 'all-inclusive' fare.

So seems the decision is whether to fly Spirit to save $5 and get the Big Front Seat. Odds are OP won't find many people on this message board who would steer you to Spirit, especially as previous poster noted about irrops recovery issues.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
OP said the traveler had status, so in essence, has an 'all-inclusive' fare.

So seems the decision is whether to fly Spirit to save $5 and get the Big Front Seat. Odds are OP won't find many people on this message board who would steer you to Spirit, especially as previous poster noted about irrops recovery issues.
In essence, the $5 cheaper fare gets my son a much better seat (in Spirit - a seat similar to first class; in AA - regular coach seat, as he is only oneworld ruby). I can definitely understand why he considers the NK flight to be a good option - especially since it is at the time he wants to fly.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
OP said the traveler had status, so in essence, has an 'all-inclusive' fare.

So seems the decision is whether to fly Spirit to save $5 and get the Big Front Seat. Odds are OP won't find many people on this message board who would steer you to Spirit, especially as previous poster noted about irrops recovery issues.
Unless traveling at a very off-peak time, the chance of getting upgraded on a flight between NYC and ORD as a oneworld Ruby on AA (who really shouldn't be upgraded at all), is close to zero.

So the comparison is between a, "big seat," on Spirit and a coach seat on AA. Save the $4 price difference, all other flying factors are the nearly the same same. As noted in post 2, there could be differences in the case of irregular operations, such as weather or maintenance.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by gordo6 View Post
In essence, the $5 cheaper fare gets my son a much better seat (in Spirit - a seat similar to first class; in AA - regular coach seat, as he is only oneworld ruby). I can definitely understand why he considers the NK flight to be a good option - especially since it is at the time he wants to fly.
Remember that it's just the bigger seat; there's no associated 'first-class service'.

So if the larger seat is appealing, and that's the tiebreaker, then go for it. Just go in knowing (as previous posted said) that Spirit has exactly 1 daily flight from NYC-Chicago, whereas AA has around 15, so in the event there's a mechanical issue on Spirit, the pax would likely have their travel significantly disrupted.

BTW, just picked a random date, and Spirit's daily flight departs at 8:35am. AA has an 8:30am, so flight time is a wash.

ETA: Just remembered the LGA-ORD flight falls into 'shuttle' status with some additional perks: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/...es-shuttle.jsp
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Last edited by dave_261; Dec 7, 19 at 7:40 am
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:40 am
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Originally Posted by dave_261 View Post
Remember that it's just the bigger seat; there's no associated 'first-class service'.

So if the larger seat is appealing, and that's the tiebreaker, then go for it. Just go in knowing (as previous posted said) that Spirit has exactly 1 daily flight from NYC-Chicago, whereas AA has around 15, so in the event there's a mechanical issue on Spirit, the pax would likely have their travel significantly disrupted.
Thanks everybody. Although the seat is the major factor here, the IRROP part is important, as my son is travelling on January 30th (the very middle of the winter) and has a very limiting schedule - he needs to be in Chicago in the afternoon, and in NYC the entire day before. So, despite the fact that the ontime rating of this NK flight is very good, this is certainly something to consider.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:42 am
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Originally Posted by gordo6 View Post
In essence, the $5 cheaper fare gets my son a much better seat (in Spirit - a seat similar to first class; in AA - regular coach seat, as he is only oneworld ruby). I can definitely understand why he considers the NK flight to be a good option - especially since it is at the time he wants to fly.
As a oneworld Ruby member, your son could select a Main Cabin Extra (extra leg room) seat on AA at no charge, 24 hours before departure -- if any such seats were still available then. MCE passengers are entitled to free alcoholic beverages, in case that matters.

The above only applies if your son purchases a regular Main Cabin ticket on AA; the option to select an MCE seat at T-24 does not apply to the cheaper "Basic Economy" fare.

Edited to add: It looks like all Coach passengers on AA "shuttle" flights get free beer, wine, or snacks. But free alcohol on a morning flight might not matter to your son.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 7:58 am
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I'm ORD based and have done the Big Front Seat when AA/UA first class prices were too high for my liking. Spirit works great...until they don't. Case in point I was scheduled to fly MCO-ORD on the Monday of Veteran's Day weekend. There were storms throughout the Midwest and my Spirit flight was delayed 2 hours, then 3 hours, then 5+ hours. It eventually canceled about 2 hours before departure. I didn't ask, but I'm guessing best case scenario to get re-accommodated was late the next day.

Luckily I protected the flight with Freebird (getfreebird.com). It was $19 a person and once the delay showed over 4 hours they sent me a link with re-booking options. Unfortunately all non-stops were sold out, but I was able to connect in Atlanta on Delta and make it home that night. The receipt on Delta.com showed the price paid as $2,200 for the two of us so they will literally book the last seats if needed. I highly suggest using this service if flying Spirit to ORD. If his Spirit flight goes sideways, there are so many other flights NYC-ORD that he would be able to take via Freebird. When flying Spirit I used to hedge myself by booking a late flight home using SW points and then cancelling if the original flight was on time. But I prefer ORD to MDW and the one time i needed the service to come through it did.
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Last edited by chicago747; Dec 7, 19 at 9:23 am
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Old Dec 7, 19, 8:07 am
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Though it wasn't asked or mentioned, have you considered SWA? They have a greater availability of flights, no baggage fee, prices are competitive and is perfectly fine for a flight less than 2 hours. Nonstop flights are less than $100. The only difference is he'll fly into MDW rather than ORD. Bring on a tight schedule, this could be a huge advantage as traffic in and out of ORD can be horrible at times. MDW, not so much.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 9:48 am
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Originally Posted by bobnchi View Post
Though it wasn't asked or mentioned, have you considered SWA?... The only difference is he'll fly into MDW rather than ORD. Bring on a tight schedule, this could be a huge advantage as traffic in and out of ORD can be horrible at times. MDW, not so much.
The Midway advantage is going to loom ever larger for Southwest in coming years as ORD expansion / terminal replacement begins in earnest, and navigating the O'Hare approach road and main traffic circle becomes a LaGuardia-grade nightmare.

As for Spirit, in my experience, the only time to book Spirit is when you absolutely, positively do not have to get there as planned. When NK goes sideways and screws up your whole travel day, that few bucks you saved starts looking like a more-than-fair price to pay for better reliability.
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Old Dec 7, 19, 10:04 am
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And it's a two-hour flight, so is the risk of getting delayed a day (or more) really worth it for the big seat? If it was transcon, maybe I'd think about it (for 5 seconds), but for two hours?
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Old Dec 7, 19, 10:26 am
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Go for NK. Considering AA will probably be delayed anyway due to their operational deficiencies, it's really a moot point.
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