I love Spirit and Frontier. Not flying them–I think I’ve flown them three total times, which weren’t particularly pleasant experiences. I just love what they represent. As the two largest ultra-low-cost carriers in the United States, they put downward pressure on all airlines’ fares, which benefits flyers immensely.
We are all used to paying for checked bags and meals, but Spirit and Frontier charge for a lot more including carry on bags, seat assignments, and even water. A lot of people hate them for that, but I actually agree with their marketing that it’s fairer to charge a la carte pricing and have customers only pay for the services they want. Everyone reading this site is astute enough to compare apples to apples and figure out whether he is getting a better deal on an ultra-low-cost carrier even after the nickle-and-diming.
Another thing Spirit and Frontier have in common: paid membership clubs. You pay $50 to $70 per year in exchange for discounts only available to Spirit $9 Fare Club and Frontier Discount Den members. Are the Spirit $9 Fare Club and Frontier Discount Den worth the price? Let’s check them out.
Spirit $9 Fare Club
The Spirit $9 Fare Club costs $20 for the first two months or $60 for the first year. Both plans automatically recur for $70 per year.
Members get discounted fare sales and discounted checked and carry on bag fees. Spirit claims that members save an average of $75 per booking.
Most fares are not discounted for $9 Fare Club members, but some are. Most fare sales offer a cheaper price for $9 Fare Club members. The discount is $11+ per person per direction.
The Terms & Conditions do not specify how many people can get the discounted fare on the same reservation as one $9 Fare Club member, but I believe that all members of the reservation get the discounted fare if booked from the $9 Fare Club member’s account. (“2.3. Members must always be one of the customers traveling when booking a special fare.”)
In addition to sometimes getting fare discounts, $9 Fare Club members always get bag discounts of $9 per bag per direction.
Since the only free bag you get on Spirit is a personal item, most members will save at least $18 per roundtrip on baggage fees and $36 if you fly with a companion.
If you fly Spirit roundtrip twice per year ($36+ saved in bag fees) and book at least one roundtrip on a fare sale ($22+ saved), then you should probably join the $9 Fare Club. Do the math, and see if you get more in benefits than you pay as a membership fee.
However even if it makes sense to join, don’t join today. Wait until you need to purchase a Spirit ticket, so that your membership period extends as far out into the future as possible.
What about if you need to book one Spirit roundtrip, and you’re not sure if you’ll fly them again? If there’s an 11% or more chance you’ll need to book another Spirit roundtrip in the next two months, pay for the $20 trial membership. You’ll save $18 guaranteed on bags on the first roundtrip, and if you do book that second roundtrip, you’ll save another $18+.
Are there any $9 Fare Club members reading this post? How much money have you saved with membership?
Frontier Discount Den
Certain sale fares are only available to club members, and the sale page says as much.
Flight searches have a separate DenDeals column.
Discounted fares are available for up to six people on a member’s itinerary, as long as he is one of the passengers.
Again do the math, and see if you get more in benefits than you pas a membership fee.
Just like with the $9 Fare Club, don’t join today. Wait until you need to purchase a Frontier ticket, and choose the Discount Den price. You’ll be prompted to join then, which maximizes how far into the future your 12 month membership runs.
Are there any Discount Den members reading this post? How much money have you saved with membership?