Spirit Airlines to begin service from Philadelphia International Airport

Posted: July 18, 2012

Spirit Airlines, the low-cost carrier known for its cheap fares and its add-on charges, will start regular service between Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth next year.

The flights will begin with four days a week in April and increase to daily service in June, Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said Monday.

Spirit currently is the only scheduled airline flying out of Atlantic City International Airport, but Atlantic City officials said they did not expect the new Philadelphia competition to affect the casino city.

"I don't think it will have a severe impact on us," said Atlantic City airport spokesman Kevin Rehmann. "We don't offer direct service to DFW now, and the Philadelphia flights are just once a day."

Philadelphia deputy mayor Rina Cutler, wearing a straw cowboy hat and backed by a Mummers quintet playing "The Yellow Rose of Texas" at an airport ceremony, cheered the news of the third carrier to announce service to Philadelphia this year, after going eight years without a new airline. Virgin America inaugurated flights between Philadelphia and Los Angeles and San Francisco in April. Alaska Airlines started service to Seattle in June. Before that, Southwest's arrival in 2004 was the last new start at the airport.

"Spirit is yet another accomplishment for Philadelphia International Airport in our quest to be the best airport in the nation," Cutler said. "And I am hoping to announce more soon."

Spirit is known for its low fares as well as its additional fees for such things as carry-on luggage and seat selection. In May, Spirit announced it would charge $100 for a last-minute carry-on bag, starting Nov. 6. Spirit is one of two airlines, along with Allegiant, that charge for carry-ons.

Last year, the airline was fined $50,000 by the U.S. Transportation Department for advertising $9 fares without clearly disclosing the associated taxes and fees.

The airline has the highest rate of customer complaints among U.S. airlines. Spirit had 7.69 complaints per 100,000 passengers last year, while the average for the U.S. airline industry is 1.29 complaints per 100,000 passengers.

Pinson said the airline has many return customers who appreciate the airline's ala-carte pricing. "Our customers who travel frequently get it," she said.

The Spirit website on Monday listed flights from Philadelphia to Dallas-Fort Worth next April for as little as $38.79, with a return for as little as $128.79.

Cutler said "the desire for low-cost service is a very valuable business model for the airline."

Based in Miramar, Fla., near its Fort Lauderdale hub, Spirit operates more than 200 daily flights to more than 50 destinations in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. In May 2011, the airline began serving Dallas Fort-Worth, and it has rapidly expanded there. Philadelphia is the 21st city that Spirit has added to its DFW roster.

The Philadelphia-Dallas route is already a popular one with local travelers. US Airways and American Airlines each offer five nonstop daily flights a day from Philadelphia to DFW.

"We welcome competition," said US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher. "This sounds like it's geared to the leisure traveler."

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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