We just got back from our Walt Disney World vacation in Orlando, Florida with our newly two year old toddler son and even though my blog name is Sarah “Fit” I’m going to share our experience and some tips to help you plan you own family vacation with a toddler. It’s going to be a 3 part series because as a mom, it’s hard for me to read a long post and even harder to write one, so here goes.
We had a little over a month to plan our Disney vacation. Nick was going to Orlando for a conference and we decided to tag along.
Since Tommy would be turning 2 on January 12th and our flight out was scheduled for the 15th we had to buy him his own seat. We debated whether or not we could sneak him on as a lap baby but I was advised by my Instagram followers not to attempt it so we didn’t.
And man are we glad that he had his own seat!
Buying an extra ticket significantly upped our flight expenses. I consider myself frugal and looked at all the options. Spirit Airlines was significantly cheaper than any other airline with a direct flight, including JetBlue for the journey down to Orlando.
Flying with a baby or toddler on Spirit, you can gate check your stroller and car seat for free. You also get a free diaper bag. So for $75, Tommy got his own seat and essentially a carry on for a flight at 11am which was perfect timing for a mid flight nap. My ticket was slightly more expensive since I had to buy a carry on.
Spirit does these “bare” fares that are so cheap because they don’t include anything at all except a lap top bag or purse, something that fits under the seat in front of you. You have to buy anything else that is extra including even a water from the beverage service cart.
Anyway, a ticket on JetBlue was going to cost a minimum $275 for Tommy (unless it was 6 am early or 8 pm late). My seat was cheaper than it would have been on JetBlue as well even with the baggage purchase.
I had flown Spirit once from Las Vegas to Boston on a red eye, pregnant with Tommy, and had zero issues so I figured why not.
I had a dream earlier in the week that our direct flight was cancelled and we had to take one that connected 5 times and it took us 8 hours instead of 3 hours to fly from Boston to Orlando. Then I had people message me on Instagram that I was going to regret booking with Spirit! Like, why? Why are you messaging an anxious pregnant lady this?
So anyway, we get the airport, the weather is clear but cold and everything is moving on time. We board the plane, the seats are too narrow for the car seat (Evenflo Tribute XL that fits in JetBlue seats) so we check it but the flight attendant was really kind and helpful. The rest of the plane boards and then we just sit.
For 20 minutes we sit there not knowing what’s going on. Then we are told we are waiting for the di-icing truck. It takes another 20 minutes. We finally leave the jet bridge and head for take off but we just sit waiting for someone to be our taxi. Finally, we get a taxi and then sit in line to take off for what felt like forever. It as only an hour.
Then the Pilot comes on to say we have a mechanical issue and have to go back to the gate. We wait another 20 minutes for a taxi to bring us to the gate. We then wait another 20 minutes for someone to come check out the plane, and another 20 minutes for more fuel and then we are cleared to go… but not before we have someone check to make sure we don’t need another visit from the de-icing truck.
We’re good to go!
But we have to wait for another taxi again…
Three hours after sitting on the plane we finally take off! The problem wasn’t really a problem from what the pilot shared but the extreme delays were due to us I believe being a budget airline and not getting priority when it comes to getting fuel, de-icing and taxis to the runway.
Our perfectly timed nap time flight didn’t work out as planned. We barely made it to the hotel before bedtime and still had to order dinner for Tommy.
Tommy did phenomenal. He can’t sit still for the life of him but he managed to be pretty chill for most of the flight.
Spirit did give us free mini water and two of those nutella cookie/crackers for free. How generous for the 3 hour delay.
So anyway, I said to Nick, “Live and learn. The fares are so cheap if we didn’t do this for the Orlando trip, I’m sure we would have tried it on another and god forbid it would have been with 2 and not 1 child.” So I like to think I learned my lesson. What you save in money on Spirit, you risk in unreliability. I had a good experience and I had a terrible experience. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good and we will never fly Spirit again.
It would be too stressful for me. I think if you are flying out of a small airport with warm weather they would be fine but getting bumped by major airlines is no fun especially when you are already delayed and traveling with a fidgety, energetic toddler who moves constantly.
We flew back on my JetBlue miles without a hitch. We actually boarded 40 minutes late however everyone got on in 15 minutes and we landed on time! This was probably a blessing in disguise to minimize the time Tommy had to sit still.
If you have flown Spirit and had a positive experience, please leave a comment below! I don’t want to scare other parents from using them since it was so affordable to fly but I also want to be honest in my experience. I checked Flight Aware and it appears our flight is usually on time and we just had the bad luck. People say this can happen on any airline and while I do believe them, I won’t be able to bring myself to fly Spirit again (unless they paid me a lot of money to take a chance again but you would too probably right?).
Spirit air is without a doubt the absolute worst airline in the industry. I’ve flown multiple times, and never once had a positive (or on-time) experience. Every time I’ve taken it, it’s been to save money (just live you), and every time I sit waiting in the airport or on the tarmac, I regret having tried to save the extra dollars.
I’m not a fan of Spirit either but sometimes fly them due to the prices. It usually ends in regret. Your post makes it sound like there are taxis that take planes to right place. An airplane taxies by itself under its own power.
They kept saying we had to wait for a taxi making it sound like we needed someone to lead the way or something -- I know it doesn’t actually pull the plane but we kept having to wait for a “taxi” per the pilot for whatever reason
I have had just as many problems with American as I have had with Spirit. American had no problem not sitting my husband next to me at 8 months pregnant with a 19 month old on my lap this month and Spirit always puts us in a row to ourselves when possible. And yes, infant was always on my ticket prior to airport arrival. We have flown with our infant son 40+ times so I have some experience. Do not fly Spirit if that is their only flight of the day to your destination and bad weather could be a possibility… or a lot of baggage. They are a smaller airline and can’t just whip up another plane and crew. We fly mostly ORD to FLL with only a purse and diaper bag and have had no more issues with Spirit than any other airline.
I agree American is terrible too. I stopped flying them last year. I avoid American when I can!!
Good job for Tommy for being such a pro! Just came back this morning from Florida (with air Canada airline) with a 5 Months old and 21 months old on our laps!!! We wanted to save money as well. Our toddler is way to active for this. Thankfully the plane was only half full on the way back (our flight was cancelled last night due to bad whether) so we had 2 rows to ourselves!! Lots of planning and packing but memories are so worth it ????
Oh man! You’re lucky!!! Glad it worked out well for you
Thank you for the quick look into your travel journey. I am planning on taking my Irish twins on Spirit. We are going from Texas to Florida. Any moms want to vouch that it is a do-able trip on my own? Husband will already be in Florida.
Nick flew spirit by himself and said it was fine so you could be totally fine! But beware the seats are too small for car seats that fit in every other airline.
I guess I’m the only fan of spirit. Me and my 3 year old daughter fly often and yes the do have delays as most flights do. They nickel and dime you BUT all the information is on the website. For the prices it seems worth it to me. I recently flew delta and they placed me and my daughter on different rows and seemed irritated when I explained it needed correction. I’m completely fine with spirit.
Thank you for sharing! I knew we had a bad experience and happy to hear other people enjoy them.
Did they ask for proof of age? My daughter is turning 2 the day before our return flight. I’m debating whether to purchase her a ticket
We were not asked for proof of age because we bought the extra seat. Part of the reason we flew Spirit was because buying Tommy a seat was so cheap!
Lisa- how did you make out??? I’m in a similar dilemma and I’m
Told our flight is full….
Sri Rai says
Did you pay extra for the seat Selection? Will the toddler and the parent given adjacent seats for free? was your 2 year old allowed to have a diaper bag along with a personal item (Like back pack).
We paid for assigned seats and he was able to have a diaper bag along with his little back pack.
Ms. YEO says
We have flown spirit several times with no issues thankfully. I have heard other complaints like yours. Hoping our next trip in April goes smoothly
We fly Spirit often because of the prices. About half the time they have to wait for a gate to open so they can taxi in but for the prices we’ve gotten, it’s worth it to us. For us it’s the flight crew who can make or break that situation. We’ve had issues on every airline we’ve flown though. I’ve even been bumped to the next day without compensation on Delta. Still have to fly Delta sometimes though because they are the only direct flight to my parent’s hometown. Flying can either be a necessary evil or a great convenience and there’s no way you’ll know which it is until you’re there the day of.
I love spirit the no frills airline.people complain but the plane a full every time read the fine print and you’ll be fine.