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Op Eds

Why I Fly Spirit Airlines

By Steven Giraldo, Crimson Opinion Writer
Steven Giraldo ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Grays Hall.

Few airlines receive as much negative media attention as Spirit.

From the countless comedic TikToks recording violent turbulences, to social media travel influencers recommending the airline due primarily to its cheap prices, Spirit’s practices are the center of popular discourse. Despite the somewhat condescending looks I get from classmates every time the conversation of traveling back and forth to campus comes up, I proudly fly Spirit Airlines. As you book your own plane tickets — for home, school, or anywhere else your travels take you — you should consider joining me on the infamous, low-cost airline.

In some sense, Spirit’s bad reputation is not without merit. The airline is rightly criticized for its misleading fee system, which shows you a low price — called a “bare fare” — but has a substantial catch: The price you see frequently includes only a small personal item and the flight ticket. Whereas most major airlines permit both a carry-on and a personal item for free, Spirit charges for each piece of luggage beyond the singular personal item, with higher fees for each additional bag.

The hidden fees don’t stay at the gate, though. Spirit Airlines offers no complimentary snacks for flights, and selecting your seat can cost you up to $200, according to their website. It’s even as if the website is designed to confuse people by complicating the process of declining any of these extra services: For example, users must click “continue without seats” to move forward with the complimentary random seat option.

Beyond its online confusion tactics, Spirit’s seats are also uncomfortable, to say the least. They can’t recline, can lack padding, and reportedly have fewer inches of leg space than other airlines. Even when you fork over as much as $250, all you get is a measly six inches of extra legroom, leaving you with the option of spending lots of money on a still-uncomfortable seat.

Spirit is far from perfect — in fact, it might not even be good. But Spirit is what I have. As a homesick, broke college student willing to take any opportunity to leave the Harvard bubble, choosing the wallet-friendly flight is my only choice.

Choosing Spirit has never been about flying in luxury — with reclinable seats, access to premium entertainment, and complimentary nuts — and we shouldn't judge it in those terms. Instead, it means valuing the destination more than the journey. It is about spending a few hours in an uncomfortable seat for the sake of spending time with friends and family. And once you arrive, you can spend those extra dollar bills at your destination — together.

The stigmatization of choosing Spirit reflects just how lost our priorities are. Harvard students are too keen to criticize individuals for making unfashionable choices without considering the context that leads to them or how well they contribute to achieving their ultimate goals. Many low-income students are forced by financial necessity to choose between comfort and an airline like Spirit. When it’s time to decide between temporary comfort, such as that of choosing to fly in a higher class or on a better airline, or making a more frugal decision that the privileged take for granted, low-income students are wired to select the latter option. At Harvard, we have fallen too deeply into a culture of criticizing, in which we unknowingly make comments that further foment class divisions and alienate the unprivileged. While it may seem harmless, we are slowly drifting away from the essential kindness, compassion, and gratitude that keep our communities together.

I grew up in a household that understands the value of temporary sacrifice for a fruitful future. It is the cornerstone of our philosophy as immigrants, built on the memory of leaving behind the comfort of one home for the better life offered by another. It has been the cornerstone for my success as a student, the spirit that pulls me through long nights of studying. And, notwithstanding those awful, awful seats, it gives me the strength to choose Spirit. I can sacrifice a few hours of comfort for the family members who sacrificed their lives back at home for my well-being.

I don’t usually mind the snarky, admittedly funny comments about Spirit. But before you make the next one, aim your judgement at the airline — for failing to provide snacks, baggage, and comfort to its passengers — and reserve your kindness for your peers who are excited to reach their destination, unfazed by the bumpy but affordable ride.

Steven Giraldo ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Grays Hall.

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