Opinion on U.S Budget Airlines - Part II "The Comparison"

Continuing the discussion from the previous topic of mine…

So there is several budget airlines in the United States. Those airlines are:

  • Spirit

  • Frontier

  • Southwest

  • Jetblue

  • Allegiant

    Technically, in aviation terms, Spirit & Frontier are identified as LCC’s, or Low Cost Carriers.
    Why are they identified as LCC’s? LCC’s are identified by airlines which provide low fares, no-frills, and a price tag on the majority of things offered in-flight, if not all things. Now that we know the terms of what airlines like these are classified by, let’s take a look at what the offer and info regarding these airlines.


Founded = 1980
Spirit is an airline that has received a significant load of criticism in the last few years. Some of those reasons are silly, others not. If you plan on sitting in economy, expect 28 inches of legroom with a seat width of 17.75’’. For the majority of citizens, that is frightening. However, if you would like to sit in “first class” or as Spirit calls it, the Big Front Seat, you should receive a roomy 36 inches of legroom and 20 inches of seat width.

Depending on the quantity, if you plan on snacking during your Spirit flight, snacks ranging from all sorts, including snack packages, you should expect to be paying $3-$17. Drinks (non-alcoholic) will put you at $3. Yes, that does include water.

In return for the fees and unpleasent legroom (If you aren’t in the “Big Front Seat”), Spirit offers fares as low as $30 on occasion. That is the point of budget airlines though. They set their fares to a minimum and in return charge you for amenities and other things. You will also need to pay to choose your seat, or a random seat will be assigned to you.


Founded = 1994
Frontier Airlines is a Denver-based airline that is known for a vast portrayal of different animals on their tails. Even inside the plane, there is a picture of the animal on the tail, that says “You are flying on __!” It really is a cool little thing in my opinion, especially if you happen to be an animal enthusiast.

Frontier Airlines offers snacks and drinks onboard, where the prices range similar to the prices on Spirit. We already know there is a price tag on them, so lets talk about other fees. What many people do not know is that you have to pay to choose your seat on Frontier. Not much of a shocker as that is the same for Spirit. Legroom wise, Frontier offers 28-31 inches of legroom, however if you want more legroom, you could opt for the more pricier “Stretch”. Stretch is sections of the planes on Frontier, in the front of the plane and near the middle of the plane, that offers 5-7 more inches of legroom, putting you at about 35-38 inches of legroom.


Founded = 1967
Southwest Airlines is practically the most beloved of all. There are several reasons for this. Southwest Airlines is a Dallas-based airline known for a hospitality like no other. Their fleet is 737’s only, with the newest addition of the 737 MAX-8. They are unique in part because of their boarding process of each flight. So, in a nutshell, you are either in group A, B, or C based off the time you checked in. The later you check in, the farther back you will be. Southwest offers EarlyBird Check-in for passengers wishing to secure a good seat. EarlyBird Check-in is primarily used by people going on business trips or people wishing to have a guaranteed seat with their party. If you are flying out of Dallas Love Field [ICAO = KDAL], and you are wanting a seat in the front of the plane or wishing to sit with your family, it is probably best to opt for EarlyBird Check-in, which will cost you roughly $15 one-way. However let’s say you are flying out of LGA where Southwest is not as common, you are probably better off not purchasing EarlyBird Check-in, as long as you make sure to check into your flight exactly 24 hours prior to scheduled departure time.

Snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic) are free for all flights on Southwest Airlines! So from the minute you step onto the plane, unless you are craving an alcoholic drink, you can leave your wallet in your pocket! When Southwest Airlines says “Low fares, nothing to hide, that’s Transfarency!” I can guarantee you they mean it and you shouldn’t be expecting any fees. Even if you need to cancel or change your flight, there are no change fees!

You might have remembered my mentioning of the several reasons why people love Southwest. Here are the top:

  • No fees

  • Free Seating

  • Friendly Employees

  • Free Snacks & Drinks On board


Founded = 1988

Jetblue is another very well appreciated budget airline. It is based out of JFK airport, and flies to many cities spanning from the U.S. all the way to the Caribbean. Jetblue offers 32-33 inches of legroom with a seat width of 18 inches. If you are craving more legroom, Jetblue offers Even More Space . Like Southwest, Jetblue offers complimentary snacks and beverages. They even offer snack packs, which will set you at $5-7. Jetblue is the only US budget airline to offer seat-back entertainment, however Frontier just recently got rid of them. The IFE on Jetblue is free, and has plenty of DIRECTV channels to choose from.


Founded = 1997
Allegiant is easily agreed on to be the most-criticized budget airline of all. They are also known to have the most worn down aircraft. Allegiant is based mainly out of Las Vegas McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have a fleet ranging from the MD-80 to the Boeing 757. Those two aircraft mentioned are unfortunately being phased out at a rapid rate. Unlike Frontier & Spirit, Allegiant offers a surprising 30 inches of legroom in economy with a seat pitch of 17 inches. Allegiant additionally offers “Legroom +” which will provide you with 4 more inches of legroom, however the seat width is the same.

Depending on the quantity, snacks on Allegiant will set you at $3-10. Don’t expect anything free, including water which is $2. While it is frustrating, you got to keep in mind this is a budget airline and fees do apply, even for water.

The Ratings

  • Spirit = 2 out of 10 stars

  • Frontier = 3.5 out of 10 stars

  • Southwest = 4 out of 10 stars

  • Jetblue = 4.5 out of 10 stars

  • Allegiant = 1 out of 10 stars

What is your opinion on U.S. Budget Airlines?

Your opinion is welcomed and heard! Our opinions vary, and that is what makes these comparisons intriguing! When stating your opinion, make sure to list some valid reasons why. You wouldn’t just say,
"Spirit is my favorite airline for sure!"
So lets hear it! I can’t wait to hear what your opinions are and if they have changed since the previous topic on U.S. budget airlines!

Like these comparisons?

Let me know! Send me a PM with constructive feedback and what I should compare in the future! I am more than happy to create many more comparisons in the future!

Happy Flying!


Southwest is my ONLY choice. Greatest airline out of these by far. If not Southwest then jetBlue. Definitely would NOT fly Frontier, Spirit, or Allegiant


At the end of the day. What you pay is what you get.

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@RTG113 Why is Southwest your favorite? Could you provide sufficient reasoning? I agree it is a great airline, but I would like to hear why it is your favorite. Cheers!

  1. They have great fares
  3. Amazing customer service/friendly staff
  4. Free TV and movies on their planes, flight tracker, etc.
  5. Free snacks and drinks onboard (except alcoholic)
  6. Low fares, nothing to hide!
  7. Open seating policy
  8. They fly to numerous places from ISP, including FLL which I go to often

I honestly don’t even consider Southwest or Jetblue a true “budget airline”. I mean, Southwest has two free bags. Southwest I really enjoy. The atmosphere always seems so upbeat, and I love the free seating policy. My sister is for some reason allocated early boarding b/c her peanut allergy, so we always get best pick of seats and no one wants to sit between two kids so it’s ok that my dad boards later. The planes are pretty bland as they’re all 737s though. Jetblue is great too, I’ve only flown them once a while back on an A320 but I really enjoyed it. Have not tried the other 3 b/c we always travel with checked bags


@AndrewWu This might better define a budget airline for you:
Nice to hear your opinion! :)

non-refundable in case of a cancellation or no-show
I thought southwest allowed flight switches

Personally Jetblue gives you more then what you pay for. amazing customer service free wifi free complimentary snacks and drinks. TVs at every seat and lets not forget the real low fares

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I wouldn’t consider jetblue a budget imo, have you seen mint class lol its like a transatlantic FC. For my favorite livery, i’d favor southwest. But for the best amenities and stuff jetblue.

The main reason that Allegiant gets the hate is because of those dumb MD-80’s they still own, thankfully they are getting rid of them this year, and replacing them with A320’s (I believe)

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I like allegiant’s livery on the MD-80 but i don’t think I’d want to fly them (sorry)

Well nobody does because of their matienence record, but think on the bright side, there hasn’t been a single death on an Allegiant Air flight in their history as an airline ;)

They are not getting the hate because of the MD-80’s but more of a faulty website and dirty cabins I believe.

Spirit is flat-out horrible.
The only ones I’d even consider are JetBlue (go Red Sox) and Southwest

Aren’t Frontier and Spirit considered
ULCC [ultra low-cost carrier(s)]?

I’ve only flown Spirit, Southwest, and Frontier. I will always prefer to fly Southwest if they are an option. Friendly crews, 2 free bags, and complimentary snacks. Then I’ll go with Frontier and Spirit.
I think people over exaggerate on how “bad” Spirit is, I’ve been flyling with Spirit for at least 5 years and never had a bad experience

Frontier & Spirit are considered ULCC’s, but that means they are budget airlines also, which is why I am comparing them.

Didn’t know that they had a faulty website, and I’m pretty I heard that their dirty cabin situation is being improved

I’m sure they are improving it, but for years it has been known to be one of the worst in the industry. Their website has also had some issues in the past.

I love flying Southwest. Every flight has been great without any complaints. For what it is, I give Southwest a 10 out of 10.

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