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Flying with kids: No frills, no problem on Spirit

When my husband and I were planning our trip to Florida, our first decision was whether to drive or fly. After about a nano second, we decided that driving with our little ones was not a great idea. Our next decision was which airline to fly.

We did some research and checked air fares across the board. Holy moly. For my husband, our daughters ages 2 and 5, and me it was well over $2,000. With a layover besides. Yuck.

We checked Spirit Airlines. I know lots of folks who have flown Spirit and didn't seem to have a problem. But, these are folks without little kids. We found flights and the round-trip cost for all four of us was $437. Yes, round trip. Yes, for all four of us. I know, crazy cheap. There is a down side. The no-frills airline has some crazy hours. The flight to Ft. Lauderdale left the Niagara Falls International Airport at 2:55 a.m. I repeat - 2:55 a.m. The flight home left Ft. Lauderdale at a much more reasonable 10:55 p.m.

Still, both were direct flights. And we figured the girls would sleep the entire time, so we took the plunge.

It wasn't great. But, it wasn't bad.

I will admit the flight to Florida was tough. We put the girls to bed at 7 p.m. and woke them up for the flight around midnight. So they got a nap of sorts. And they did sleep on the plane. Still, I felt like I had major jet lag for the first full day of vacation. The flight home was much easier. We were home and in bed by 2:30 a.m. The girls went right to sleep and woke up around noon. Easy.

Here's what I think.

The plane was clean, the flight attendants were wonderful, everything was on time and the bathroom on the plane had a baby changing table which is awesome. I've flown a lot and have never seen that. Bonus. The airport was empty - no lines whatsoever.

The Niagara Falls Airport was empty, making it easy to get in and out. (Mary Friona-Celani/Special to The News)

If you love your free peanuts or blue chips keep in mind, Spirit charges for snacks; it's $3 for a pop, $1.50 for a snack.

As for luggage, you get one free carry on. Each additional is $26. Checked luggage is $21. (If you add more luggage after booking, it is more expensive, so do it all at once).

PROS

  • cheap
  • clean
  • empty airport
  • no waiting at security
  • changing station in airplane bathroom

CONS

  • awful hours
  • drive to Niagara Falls from East Aurora

The big question - would we do it again?  To save around $1,500 - you betcha.

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