Heads Up: Don’t Ask for a Cup of Water on Spirit Airlines. Denied!

Hey guess what? You’re thirsty? Well don’t expect Spirit Airlines to offer you any complementary tap water. If you ask for it, you’ll be told that they “don’t give out cups of water, except if you need some to take medicine.”

Riding Spirit is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You pay for everything piecemeal — your plane ride, your luggage, your seat, and now, apparently, your water. What you don’t pay for are: nothing and your fear of death; those things you get for free.

See, when you step onto a Spirit aircraft, if your hips measure more than 15 inches wide, you’ve got to turn sideways to get through the aisle. But this is just the beginning. If you manage to reach your seat without scratching some unlucky passenger’s arm with the frayed plastic buckle on your carry-on, you will get to sit comfortably in a seat and look at the old, darkened chewing gum stuck to the chair in front of you. You soon realize it’s a good thing you didn’t pay for comfort or cleanliness, because it appears you’re not going to get any.

By the end of your flight, you will be ready to have a leg transplant. If you are taller than about 5’5”, your knees will have bruises and your legs will be cramping. You’re not paying for space, either.

I thought (perhaps with too much presumption) that the tap water would be included, but you’ve got to buy that too. Just a side note: among the options of the delicious food spread available on board for purchase are bagged wine and “salsa” with “chips.” If you want to partake, don’t forget to bring your credit card; Spirit is cashless.

So sometimes you don’t pay for something and you consequently don’t get it. That’s fine. We understand basic economics. But sometimes, you don’t pay for something and you get it anyways. That’s the case when you are sitting on the runway and the pilot is trying to start the plane, and then comes on telling you that there’s a problem with the computer, just as the sound of the engine dies and the air and lights go out inside. Here, you start wondering what it’s like to die; you start thinking about how the meeting with your Maker is going to go. It’s too late to get off, but you have been given — by Spirit Airlines — the consciousness of your own death.

 *****

I concede: when I pay $120 for a round-trip ticket from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago, I shouldn’t expect celebrity treatment. And I really am thankful that flying Spirit allows me to travel for cheap. Even still, one day I hope to make enough money not to buy a fancy car or a big house, but to fly on an airline other than Spirit.

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