Real cost of DFW-BOS $34 Spirit ticket compared to American Airlines $79 fares

This post examines and compares even lower ticket prices on Spirit Airlines to the $80 to $100 round trip fares seen today for American and United flights on the same routes.

I fired off a bunch of posts this morning on low domestic fares of $80 to $100 round trip on American Airlines and United Airlines. There are some incredible deals today. You should be searching for airfare deals, if domestic travel is in your plans over the next three months and you live near one of the hub airports.

United $98 round trip Dallas to Boston or New York; Chicago $80

American Chicago $80 to $106 round trip flights to BOS, LGA, PHL, Orlando and Miami

American LAX to Houston $106 round trip

American LAX to Chicago $80 round trip

Low fares on Spirit Airlines seems to have motivated the reaction from American and United.

A look at one route where Spirit Airlines and American Airlines offer low fares compares the final ticket cost flying one way Dallas to Boston.

Spirit Airlines Dallas DFW – Boston BOS $36 one-way (27 dates in Sep-Oct)

American Airlines DFW – BOS route has low one-way fares  on 21 dates

  • $41 (2 dates: Tue Oct 6 and Tue Oct 20)
  • $49 (1 date: Tue Sep 1
  • $59 (3 dates: Mon Sep 14, Mon Sep 21, Mon Oct 19)
  • $79 (15 dates in September and October)

Now add on Spirit Airlines Bag Fees to Ticket Price

Spirit Airlines has the lower fare, but remember bag fees eat up much of that savings.

Here is a look at the real cost of a $34.10 ticket to fly Spirit one-way from Dallas to Boston.

Spirit Airlines Dallas DFW – BOS Boston

$34.10  Tuesday September 8

Spirit DFW-BOS $34 Sep8

I have to unbundle the hotel offers on the next page – “Continue Without Hotel”.

I have to unbundle rental car offers on the page after hotels – “Continue Without Car”.

Spirit Airlines recognized my email address. Nice to see I am remembered. I flew Spirit Airlines on only one ticket to Denver in 2012. I went to Denver. My suitcase went to Miami. My bad luck. My good experience average can only go up from here, if I take more flights on Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines Bag Fees

One small carry-on bag is free. And it means small. Dimensions are 16” x 14” x 12”. That is the size of my backpack with computer and camera. My clothes don’t fit in the same bag.

That means I have to pay for at least one more bag.

One carry-on bag = $35.

Dimensions 22”x18”x10”. This is a standard carry-on roller bag size and larger size carry-on bag than many airlines allow in Europe. RyanAir allows a 55cm x 40 cm x 20 cm. Spirit airlines carry-on converts to 56 x 46 x 25 cm.

One checked bag = $30.

Spirit bag fees

The checked bag lower price is why my luggage went to Miami when I went to Denver. I already had a free carry-on bag and why pay an extra $5. I found out why $5 extra can be a good investment when I had no pants to wear in Denver for an evening event. My bag arrived 20 hours later.

The price goes up significantly for more than 1 checked bag on Spirit Airlines.

  • Two checked bags = $70. (+ $40)
  • Three checked bags = $155 (+$85)
  • Four checked bags = $240 (+85)
  • Five checked bags = $325 (+85).
  • Dimensions: 62 linear inches – 40 lbs / 158 linear cm – 18 kg
    (linear = length + width + height)

American Airlines carry-on bag rules.

You can bring 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item.

Carry-on bag

Your carry-on bag should be:

  • Up to 45 inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) or 115 centimeters (23 x 36 x 56 cm) including handles and wheels

You can travel with horizontal rolling and/or hanging garment bags as your carry-on bag if:

  • They fit comfortably in the bag sizer

  • They measure up to 22″ length x 14″ width x 9″ height or 115cm (56 x 36 x 23 cm)

  • You can also carry on a soft-sided garment bag of up to 51in or 130cm (length + width + height)

Personal item

Your personal item must be smaller than your carry-on, able to fit under the seat in front of you and can include:

  • A purse

  • A briefcase

  • A laptop bag

  • Similar items such as a tote

Additional allowed items

You can also bring:

  • Outerwear such as coats, wraps and hats

  • A book or newspaper

  • A small bag of food to eat on the flight

  • An approved safety seat for a lap or ticketed child

  • A pillow or blanket

  • An umbrella stroller for a lap or ticketed child

  • A diaper bag for a lap or ticketed child

  • Duty free items

  • Assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs, walkers, portable oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines etc.)

  • Breast pump

You can carry two and even more bags on an American Airlines flight free of charge. If you have more bags, then American Airlines definitely offers the lower fare to Spirit Airlines. American Airlines charges $25 for one checked bag and $35 for the second bag. Three or more gets expensive, but less than Spirit Airlines.

Low cost carriers make a significant portion of their revenue on bag fees. You have to travel light to get the real deals when flying Spirit Airlines.

Active Military, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members and OneWorld Emerald members get three free checked bags. AAdvantage Platinum and Oneworld Sapphire get two free checked bags.

Spirit charges $10 minimum for assigned seat DFW-BOS

Spirit $10 cheap seats

Selecting assigned seats ranges from $10 to $18 depending on how close to front of plane you choose. Or buy a $50 upgrade front seat in Spirit Airlines big section.

Bottom line is $74 or $79 is real cost of Spirit Airlines $34.10 one-way ticket, unless you travel with only a small backpack or bag and you are willing to risk flying in a middle seat.

American Airlines will fly you Dallas to Boston for $79 or less on 21 dates in September and October compared to Spirit Airlines 27 dates at $74 or $79 one-way.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. While not a big Spirit Airlines fan, the three items you glossed over are 1) the Spirit fare is $18/person less each way if purchasing at the airport, saving a bunch if traveling with multiple people. 2) baggage fees are lower if you have multiple people who can share a suitcase. 3) Spirit is the reason these fares are so low. If they aren’t on the route next time, what are the odds AA will have fares that low?

  2. If you make a trip to the airport to purchase the ticket, you’ve already spent the savings. If you are buying the ticket on the day of flight, what if the flight’s sold out? Baggage fee savings are even better with multiple people on AA compared to Spirit. Each individual can have 1 carry on. Doesn’t cost you extra to bring more things especially on a long stay. Doubt you can fit 1 week’s of clothing for 2 people in a single carry on. Sure you can check it, but you now have 2 people to shop for should your luggage is lost or significantly delayed. Oh and the leg room, even the cheapest standard AA seat have a whole lot more leg room than Spirit.

  3. News Flash! Spirit is unbundled.

    I have taken many a weekend trip with just a laptop bag with some clothes in it. While I haven’t flown Spirit (yet), I would for such a trip and the price would be exactly as Spirit quotes it.

    I also have no need to pick a seat on a short flight.

  4. @Daniel – A family of 4 would save $144 at the airport vs. online. Assuming you aren’t hours away from the airport, it would likely net out to $100 savings or more after factoring in gas and (possibly) parking.

    You neglected to cover the fact that by not supporting Spirit, the next time one is traveling the route, the fare would be much higher if Spirit pulls out. Plenty of examples of airlines jacking prices up literally the day after a low fare carrier pulls out.

  5. “If you make a trip to the airport to purchase the ticket, you’ve already spent the savings.”

    For most, maybe, but not all. My local airport gives first hour of short term, terminal parking free, so if you’re purchasing for several people and the airport is already on your way, then it can be a good savings. Spirit calls the online booking charge the ‘passenger usage fee’.

  6. FlyerTalk –

    Having only flown Spirit Airlines once, I did not know about the airport discount. I don’t see it mentioned on Spirit Airlines website.

    The last page of the FlyerTalk thread, page 11 shows photos from Spirit receipts with negative fare after the airport ticket discount. Still got fees though.

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