The Guide to Spirit Airlines Seat Selection

Bundle seat selection with other perks or buy your seat a la carte. Free Spirit elites get free seat selection.
Sean Cudahy
By Sean Cudahy 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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Spirit Airlines is known for its low fares and plentiful flights to popular vacation destinations. But because of the airline’s pricing model, choosing your seat and most other services beyond the ticket itself will cost you extra when flying Spirit.

Before you book your ticket, here’s what to know about seat selection on Spirit Airlines, including the types of seats available and how much they might cost.

Spirit Airlines seat assignment

As an ultra low-cost carrier, the rule of thumb on Spirit is that seat selection isn't free, and customers can expect to pay for seats on each leg of their trip.

The only travelers who don’t have to pay a seat selection fee are Free Spirit elite status members, who get free seat selection as one of the program’s perks.

When booking, you can pay for seat selection and baggage as part of a bundle. Alternatively, you can choose your seats individually as a trip add-on during booking or anytime after — even at check-in.

Do I have to select a seat on Spirit Airlines?

Travelers hoping to fly as cheaply as possible can skip paying for seat selection altogether. In that case, the airline will randomly assign them a seat at check-in.

Yes, that means you could end up sitting apart from your travel companions: The airline states it can’t guarantee travelers will be assigned seats next to each other, even if they booked the tickets on one reservation.

However, the airline says gate agents and flight attendants will try to provide adjacent seats “when possible” for travelers ages 13 or younger who are traveling with an adult.

Notably, this assurance is not enough to meet the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new recommendations that airlines guarantee adjacent family seating for no additional cost.

Spirit Airlines seat types

Unlike other airlines that have a wide range of seat types and classes of service, it’s pretty straightforward on Spirit — there are just three options to choose from.

Standard seats

Spirit’s standard seats represent the vast majority of seats on the aircraft. You can buy a standard seat a la carte or purchase it as part of a bundle — which we’ll discuss in a moment.

While you may want to equate a standard seat to economy class on another airline, don’t expect much besides a place to sit. As a budget airline, you’ll generally have to pay for anything else you want, from soda and snacks to carry-on bags and other services.

Premium seats

On Spirit, premium seats are exit row seats that come with a bit of extra legroom but also require passengers to be able and willing to assist in an emergency. This means travelers under the age of 15 can’t choose these seats, per federal guidelines.

Big Front Seats

While Spirit doesn’t have a true first class, it does offer wider seats with more legroom at the front of the aircraft. The airline calls the seats in this section the Big Front Seats.

With eight or ten such seats available on each flight — depending on the aircraft — Big Front Seat passengers get up to 32% more legroom when compared to standard seats. There’s also no middle seat, as all Big Front Seats are either window or aisle seats.

Spirit Airlines seating chart

On the web, there are a few ways to see the Spirit seating chart. You can take a sneak peek before choosing a flight by selecting “seat map” on an itinerary you’re considering.

Once you do that, you can view seat types and availability on the plane, as shown in this example flight from Newark, New Jersey to Orlando, Florida.

When it comes time to select a seat while booking, the seat map will show the price of each seat. When you select a seat, a pop-up box will display the price, along with an image and additional information, like whether it’s an aisle or window seat.

If you’re selecting seats as part of a bundle, you’ll choose your seats using the same type of map, but seats included in the bundle will be listed at $0.

How to pick seats on Spirit Airlines

When it comes to selecting a seat on Spirit, you have three main options:

  • Pay to select seats a la carte while booking, or anytime up until check-in.

  • Pay for a bundle that includes seat selection, baggage and other benefits such as priority boarding.

  • Skip seat selection and pay nothing. This option will result in the airline randomly assigning you a seat at check-in.

Spirit Airlines seat selection fees

Seat assignment prices can vary dramatically based on the flight and the seat you choose. Spirit advertises the price for a standard seat as starting at $5 per flight and climbing as high as $200 under the most expensive circumstances.

The price of a Big Front Seat ranges from $12 to $750 per route, and will be pricier than standard seats for the extra space. You can also save money by paying to upgrade to a Big Front Seat on the day of your flight, but there’s always a chance there won’t be any available.

In NerdWallet’s analysis of airline seat fees, Spirit Airlines is the second most expensive among major U.S. airlines, at an average of $20 per seat per flight. Spirit trails only its budget airline counterpart, Frontier, in that ranking.

With such a wide range of prices, let’s see what these fees look like in practice. We priced out a summer weekend trip from Baltimore/Washington International Airport in Maryland to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, with a base fare coming in at $229 round-trip. On the leg to Florida, seat selection fees start at $17 for a standard seat toward the back of the plane.

If we want to sit closer to the front of the plane, standard seats go for $18 or $27. Exit row seats are $33, while the larger, extra-legroom Big Front Seat costs $110.

For the return trip, the cheapest seats start at $20.

If we aren't paying for extra baggage, and if we select the least expensive seat each way, our $228 ticket ultimately comes out to $265.

Spirit Airlines fee bundles

Instead of paying for seats separately, you can pay for one of Spirit’s bundles. These include a checked and/or full-size carry-on bag, a standard seat and other services for one price.

Like the seats themselves, the costs of the bundles vary by flight. And keep in mind you’ll need to pay for the bundle for both the outbound and return flight.

Before choosing a bundle, you’ll want to decide what services you need and then price out the best option.

Here’s what you get with Spirit’s two main bundles:


Seat selection

Other services included

Just For You Bundle

Standard seats included.

Shortcut boarding and one checked bag or one full-sized carry-on bag.

Bundle It Combo

Standard seats and premium (exit row) seats included. Big Front Seats not included.

Shortcut boarding, checked bag and full-sized carry-on bag, plus one free flight change allowed.

For our hypothetical trip from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale with a $229 base fare, the Just for You bundle costs $69 each way. The Bundle It Combo tacks on $130 each way.

So if we decide to add on the Bundle It Combo, we would pay $489 — which might not be such a good deal.

If we only want one part of a bundle’s offerings — for example, a carry-on bag — and don’t need seat selection or priority boarding, it might make sense to skip the bundle and pay for the carry-on bag separately.

Spirit Saver$ Club

Members of Spirit’s subscription-based Saver$ Club receive discounts on seat selection for themselves and up to eight travel companions, along with other benefits like expedited security access, early boarding and ticket flexibility.

The program costs $69 for a 12-month membership, with 18-month and two-year memberships also available.

Spirit Airlines seat selection for elite members

One of the most useful perks of Spirit Airlines elite status is the ability to select a seat for free. Spirit’s seat selection benefits for elite status members are as follows:

  • Free Spirit Silver members get complimentary seat selection at check-in and may be able to move to an exit row seat prior to departure at no cost.

  • Free Spirit Gold members get complimentary seat selection when booking, including exit rows. 

If you’re a frequent Spirit flyer, you can work toward Free Spirit elite status through flying and everyday spending using the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard®. Cardholders earn 1 Status Qualifying Point (SQP) per $10 spent on eligible purchases.

For context, it takes 2,000 SQP to reach Free Spirit Silver and earn complimentary seat selection at check-in. Gold status is earned once you reach 5,000 SQPs.

Spirit Airlines seat selection recapped

When flying a budget airline like Spirit Airlines, you should go in expecting that your ticket only gets you a spot on the plane and a personal item that fits under the seat. Anything else, including choosing your seat, will cost extra.

When booking a Spirit Airlines flight, a little research and strategy can help you save money. Figure out your greatest areas of need— whether it’s a full-sized bag, shortcut boarding or selecting a seat — and then compare the price of bundling your add-on services or paying for them individually.

And, if you’re planning to fly Spirit regularly, supplementing your flying with an airline-branded credit card is a great way to help you reach elite status and earn free seat selection.

(Top photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines)

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