You know the saying.  “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.  The fare that popped up on my search brought that phrase to mind.  This had to be a mistake.  There had to be a catch.  Still, the catches and challenges have rarely stopped me in the past…why should this be any different? 

I booked my return trip on Spirit airlines and secured my admission to the plane.  Notice that I didn’t say I secured my seat.  Securing a seat…any seat per say…is an additional fee.  Additional fees would lump this trip in with any other air excursion.  No.  This time I would beat the system. 

Beating “the man” requires research.  I surveyed sites…reviewed reviews…and armed myself with information.  As with almost any other airline, Spirit charges for checked baggage.  They are the exception, however, when it comes to carry-on luggage.  Certain size and weight “normal” carry-on luggage demands an additional fee.  Since my excursion to Florida was only a few days, I decided I would carry everything I needed inside my backpack.  To be specific…my backpack that is 18”x14”x8”.  Reliable web info revealed that anything beyond those dimensions is subject to charge.  

Five t-shirts…one pair of jeans…one pair of gym shorts…one pair of dress pants…one pair of dress shoes…and I would wear the dress shirt on the trip down.  One electric razor and one toothbrush.  I figured my sister was good for tooth paste and deodorant.  I won’t mention my unmentionables.  

The flight down to Florida was no big deal.  I flew Southwest.  When Southwest feels like luxury flying, it may be time for some reflective thinking.  I was genuinely excited when the snack cart made its’ way down the aisle.  Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous while drinking coffee and eating pretzels is easy.  The focus of this article is on more humble circumstances. 

The day of my return flight to Indy arrived.  I carefully packed my backpack.  Clothes pack easier when one isn’t concerned about wrinkles.  Remember those dimensions previously mentioned?  I found a tape measurer in my sisters’ garage and measured my efforts.  By my account, I was easily within an inch of tolerance.  Having read that the gate workers at the Spirit terminal are truly watchdogs for “the man”, I pushed and squished my packing efforts for an additional inch or so.

When I arrived at Tampa International I proceeded straight to the security check-in area.  Another revelation from my extensive research on Spirit revealed that they charge people to print out their boarding pass at the airport…somewhere between $2 and $10.  I must admit a slight sense of superiority waffled over me as I passed people at the Spirit counter.  With all my travel possessions secured on my back, I felt like a Millennial backpacker touring Europe.  All I needed was a flannel shirt to complete the ensemble. 

With only moments before boarding, my Millennial feelings were quickly lost when I couldn’t figure out how to get that squiggly rectangle thing to show up on my cell phone.  The first screen told me NOT to print out the ticket because a printed version could not be scanned.  That didn’t help me much considering I couldn’t find what to print if I had to.  My only option was to go to the Spirit counter at the gate and ask them to help me with my phone.  I just knew they were going to charge me and rob me of my victory. 

They didn’t.  There are still good people in this world. 

28-C.  Four rows from the back of the plane.  I had an aisle seat…that was a blessing.  What was less than a blessing was the size of the seat.  I think we had bigger seats at the children’s tables in the toddler area of the last church I pastored.  Still…I was beating the system. 

I introduced myself to the older lady sitting behind me.  Figured that must be protocol since I would be sitting in her lap for the next two hours.  Come to find out, she had 5 grandchildren and just retired from motocross racing. 

I made that up.  Without any in-air entertainment, you do what you have to do.  I did introduce myself…that much is true.   

Halfway through the flight she tapped me on the shoulder and asked me how I felt about my $37 seat.  I told her the jury was still out on that one.

We landed right on time.  After fueling the plane and emptying the trash bags, I found Marchelle waiting to drive me home in our extremely large Toyota Highlander.  I kid.  The Highlander really isn’t that big. 

My flight home… $37.49. 

Often it’s the small wins in life that mean the most.      

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