How Spirit Boarding Zones and Shortcuts Work

Spirit cardholders, elites and those who purchase shortcut boarding for $9.99 will get Zone 2 boarding access.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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Love it or hate it, Spirit offers some of the best fares for travelers. The airline can do this partly because it unbundles its tickets, meaning you’ll pay extra for amenities such as checked luggage and seat selection.

The same is true for Spirit’s boarding zones; it’s possible to purchase earlier boarding, though there are some other ways you can snag priority boarding on Spirit. Let’s look at the Spirit Airlines boarding process, how the zones work and what you can do to get ahead in line.

The Spirit boarding zones

Spirit has four boarding zones available to passengers:

  • Zone 1: Gold elite members.

  • Zone 2: Silver elite members, those who have purchased shortcut boarding or carry-on bags and co-branded credit card holders.

  • Zone 3: Passengers sitting at the rear of the plane.

  • Zone 4: Passengers sitting at the front of the plane.

There is also preboarding available for passengers with disabilities or those who need special assistance.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Sources are unclear if Spirit Airlines offers military boarding as a perk. Even so, the airline does offer active military members who show their U.S. military ID at the counter up to two free checked bags and a free carry-on (in addition to a free personal item).

How is the Spirit boarding process assigned?

If you’re trying to save money, odds are that you’re not looking to spend extra on fees. While this can be a worthy endeavor for many, it will likely make you one of the last to board.

There are a few different ways to get priority boarding, but if you skip out on all of those, you’ll be assigned either Zone 3 or 4 boarding based on where you’re sitting.

How to get priority boarding on Spirit

Have elite status

Spirit has two levels of elite status in its Free Spirit program. Gold members enjoy Zone 1 boarding, while Silver members receive Spirit’s shortcut boarding. Status is earned at the following levels:

  • Gold elite status: Earned after 5,000 Status Qualifying Points (SQPs).

  • Silver elite status: Earned after 2,000 Status Qualifying Points (SQPs).

Members without elite status earn 6 points for every dollar spent on fares and 12 points for every dollar spent on additional fees.

Silver elite members get a boost to their earnings at 8 points per dollar spent on fares and 16 points per dollar spent on ancillary purchases.

Those with the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard® also earn SQPs on their purchases. Cardholders receive 1 SQP for every $10 spent.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you don’t fly Spirit often but want to take advantage of elite status, keep an eye out for status matches. Spirit launches these occasionally and allows elite members from hotel and airline programs to match to elite status for a fee.

Note that elite members also receive a variety of other benefits. For Silver members, this includes shortcut security, an overweight baggage fee waiver, exit row seat assignment, a redemption fee waiver, same-day standby, dedicated customer service support and the ability to host a points pool.

Gold members, meanwhile, will enjoy perks such as waived pet fees, free flight flex, a free carry-on bag, a free checked bag, a free drink and snack on board and group 2/3/4/5 seat selection at purchase. This is in addition to the perks offered to Silver elite members.

Hold a Spirit credit card

Spirit has two different co-branded credit cards:

  • Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard®: The card has an annual fee of $0, and gives you Zone 2 boarding on all flights as well as a 25% rebate on inflight food and beverage purchases and the ability to earn an anniversary bonus. 

  • Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard®: The card has $0 intro for the first year, then $79 annual fee and gives you Zone 2 boarding on all flights, a 25% rebate, the ability to earn SQPs, waived redemption fees and the ability to earn an annual companion voucher.

Qualify for shortcut boarding

What is shortcut boarding on Spirit Airlines? Shortcut boarding on Spirit offers Zone 2 access to anyone who qualifies.

There are three ways to get shortcut boarding, which we'll discuss in the next section.

Shortcut boarding on Spirit

How to get Spirit shortcut boarding

Shortcut boarding perks can be acquired in three ways.

1. The first method is earning Silver elite status in the airline's Free Spirit loyalty program, which we detailed earlier.

2. It’s also possible to purchase shortcut boarding during the checkout process. Spirit bundles different extras on flights to save money, or you can purchase additional items individually.

Choosing to book individually allows you to select shortcut boarding.

3. It’s also possible to skip the purchase of shortcut boarding if you’re bringing a carry-on bag, which grants you access automatically in Zone 2. The cost of carrying a bag onboard will vary depending on your flight, but doing so also grants you free shortcut boarding.

Spirit shortcut boarding cost

The privilege to board early will cost you between $7.99 and $9.99 depending on your flight route.

Passengers can also purchase "Shortcut Security" for up to $20. This is only available at certain airports, and though it's not TSA PreCheck, it will grant you access to an expedited check-in process.

Is Spirit shortcut boarding worth it?

Getting to board early has its perks, but if you want to maximize your dollar, you may as well purchase a carry-on for a little more money.

Saving money on priority boarding with Spirit

Zone 1 and Zone 2 access is fairly simple to achieve with Spirit Airlines since there are so many methods from which to choose. However, if you’re not interested in holding one of Spirit's credit cards or don’t fly enough to earn elite status, there is one other method you can use to save a few bucks.

Spirit’s Saver$ Club offers discounts on flights, luggage seats and shortcut boarding to its passengers. It costs $69.95 yearly, so you’ll want to be sure you fly enough with Spirit to make it worth it.

Spirit boarding zones recapped

Spirit is a low-cost carrier that keeps airfare low by charging extra for everything. This is the case for bags, seats and boarding, where those who don’t invest get on last. If you’re not fussed with early boarding, Zones 3 and 4 will be where you land.

However, if you bring luggage, you may want to move yourself up in the queue. It’s simple to do so with priority boarding available to elite members, credit card holders and those who purchase access.

(Top photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

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