Spirit Airlines, We Salute You

Dedicated to Spirit Airlines, who made sure we sat on the tarmac at ORD for exactly 1 hour and 50 minutes so as not to refund our airfare.

Dedicated to Spirit Airlines, who made sure we sat on the tarmac at ORD for exactly 1 hour and 50 minutes, so as not to hit the 2-hour mark and activate the rule refunding our airfare. Photo taken at 12:50 a.m. after a VERY long day of travel.

Let me tell ya’, flying Spirit Airlines was a real treat this past week. My friends and I just wanted a cheap flight to Vegas. Spirit Airlines just wanted to shake us down. It was good that I printed my boarding pass at home, since there’s a fee for that. I got to O’Hare Airport two hours early, but it didn’t matter.  I’ve only seen lines like Spirit’s baggage line during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I ran outside looking for a Sky Cap, to no avail. This no-frills airline was the aerospace equivalent to Tonya Harding. And oh yeah, there was an extra fee for the luggage, which was cheaper if you pre-paid for it at home. They also charged for carry-on luggage. By the time we added in all of the extra fees, it would have been cheaper to fly United or American.

The O’Hare Airport official shepherding us unwashed masses told me that often times, the Spirit Airlines passengers missed their flights because the baggage line is far too long, and the passengers might not get rebooked for another week. Wow.

I grabbed my window seat, lamenting that I was sitting nowhere near the Sister Wives. I dug into my Chris Farley biography, trying to ignore my discomfort. By the time I hit page 26, I was laughing so hard, my seat was quaking and tears were rolling down my cheeks. I really tried to hold it in, but the woman pressed into my right side gave me a look. I’d like to think it was concern, but it was more like horror, as in, “Fucking great. I’ve hit the mile-high jackpot with yet another mentally imbalanced seat mate.”

TJ Hobans mom had surprised me with a gift of hummus, crackers, and bottled water from O’Hare before we boarded. It  was a good thing, since there was no free water or free snacks on this interminably long, uncomfortable Spirit Airlines flight, where my 5’5″ frame pressed into the seat before me. I had indent marks on my knees by the time we landed. I wondered how tall people survived it.

On my return flight, the Sister Wives and I all sat together, thank God. We paid $25 for extra leg room. Across the aisle from me sat a grizzled old man. He was diabetic and in pre-anxiety attack mode because we landed on time, but we sat on the tarmac in no air conditioning for one hour and 50 minutes. He made it clear–to anyone within listening distance–that he really wanted to borrow a Xanax. Or two. Or three. I texted Sister Wife Gina, sitting directly in front of me, that it was a lucky for the old man that she was a nurse. Here is what she texted back:

Screenshot 2015-09-23 12.48.47Screenshot 2015-09-23 12.48.57

I made a loud comment about Sister Wife Gina being an FBI profiler. She began interrogating the old man. He shared that he was a used car salesman, and that he went to Vegas 10 times last month, each time flying on Spirit Airlines, and each time, sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare for precisely 1 hour and 50 minutes. He informed us that Spirit only had two gates at O’Hare, so this was de rigueur. He continued waxing poetic about Vegas, sharing that he stayed way outside of Vegas to be “near the mountains.” In my naiveté I believed him, but on our exhausted drive home from O’Hare at 3 a.m., street smart Sister Wife Gina clued me in, using that slow speak you do with children, the hearing impaired, and English-as-a-second-language folk. The used car salesman was an aging Joey Buttafuoco, hiking the Appalachian Trail.

It was storming hard outside of our humid little plane on the tarmac. The pilot would have had a great career in writing fiction–he audaciously announced that we couldn’t deplane because “If there is lightning within a 5-mile radius of the airport, it’s against the rules to deplane.” The balls on that guy! Magically, we deplaned an hour later, as the lightning continued.

Sister Wife Maura flew back on Spirit Airlines the day before, and texted us this image of the tray table in front of her–she carries Clorox wipes with her everywhere, so she was well prepared for Spirit Airlines’ hygiene issues.

The tray table facing Sister Wife Maura on Spirit Airlines this past week.

The tray table facing Sister Wife Maura on Spirit Airlines this past week.

I told the Sister Wives I was writing this blog, and they all said in unison, “If Spirit Airlines offers you free apology passes to fly anywhere, just refuse them!”