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Spring Training Makes A Great Spring Getaway Loaded With Sun And Fun

Baseball fans can watch their favorite teams train, see exhibition games and enjoy some warm weather with a spring training trip.

Spring Training starts in mid-February and there are many teams that train in Arizona, like the Texas Rangers, and there are also a number of  teams that train in Florida.

If you want to see spring training, Spirit airlines may be the ticket for your next trip, even though it is loaded with fees. We’ve been seeing some incredible fares on Spirit to spring training cities in Arizona and Florida, so you just have to be savvy about fees to get a good deal.

The Texas Rangers train near Phoenix, Arizona and Spirit doesn’t fly into Phoenix, but it does fly into Mesa which is similar to the distance between Dallas Love Airport and DFW Airport. Players start arriving for Spring Training in mid-February, the first Rangers exhibition game is on February 22 and games continue through March 28.

Looking at the airfares to Mesa, we found red-eye flights for $38 going out to Mesa and $30 on return flights for a total of $68 roundtrip. Even though you have to pay some additional fees on Spirit, the average fare on other airlines in to Phoenix has been $250 roundtrip or higher on other airlines.

While I’ve complained about the all the fees Spirit Airlines charges, they do have some dirt cheap fares. If you’ve got a family of four, you may want to consider checking two bags, instead of four, and make sure you prepay online before you get to the airport for a much more reasonable rate. If you’re a couple, you should share one checked bag. When checking bags, make sure your bag is under 40 pounds, because that is the limit Spirit permits before you’ll also be hit with overweight luggage fees. Other airlines allow bags to be up to 50 pounds, so don’t forget this lower weight limit when packing.

It costs $30 for the first checked bag if you pay at time of booking or before check-in and $35 if you pay during online check-in. If your bag is 41-50 pounds, you’ll pay an extra $25. If you have more than one person traveling and you need to check two backs, be sure to check one per person because the fee for the first checked bag per person is cheaper than the fee for the second checked bag per person.

Unlike other airlines, Spirit charges you to carry-on bags that are bigger than what you can fit under the seat. If you’re traveling with the family, each person can bring a small bag that will fit under the seat free of charge, so fit what you can into those small bags and share your luggage to lower bag fees. Today instead of bringing a briefcase, I carry a backpack with my computer because I can fit more things in it.

Whatever you do, do not bring a roller bag to the gate because you’ll be hit with a $100 carry-on fee at the gate. If you don’t prepay, you will still be hit with a $50 fee at the airport kiosk, but if you prepay online, it’s only $35. If you prepay, you’ll pay $5 more to bring that roller bag on board rather than checking it and you know it won’t get lost.

On American, you get a free seat assignment, but you still have to pay for bags unless you have frequent flyer elite status or select affinity cards. Spirit charges a minimum of $10 for seat assignments given more than 24 hours in advance, so if you are traveling with young kids, you are going to want to pay for the seat assignment. When I looked at the cheapest seats on Spirit flights from Dallas to Mesa, I found they were $10 and located at the back of the plane. The closer you get to the front of the airplane, the more expensive the seats are and the emergency row is also more expensive. The emergency row was $20.

If you’re tall or you like more space, you may want to pay for the Big Front Seat on Spirit flights. These seats offer a wider seat area, 2 x 2 seating similar to what you see in domestic first class cabins and you also get more legroom. On the Phoenix route it was $25 for the Big Front Seat so you may want to splurge. You don’t get free drinks or free checked bags, but you would be paying a whole lot more to fly first class to get the extra space and legroom on other airlines.

During the regular season, two of the toughest tickets to get are when the Yankees and Boston play the Rangers, so we must have a lot of Yankees and Red Sox fans in the Dallas area. The Yankees train in Tampa so we looked at fares to Tampa and found roundtrip fares for $237 on major airlines, versus $98 roundtrip on Spirit. Regular seat assignments on that route ranged from $10-$20 and the fee was $25 for the Big Front Seat. Spirit only flies nonstop to Tampa on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, so the fare is not available every day of the week.

The Boston Red Sox train in Fort Myers, where the weather is even warmer than Tampa, usually by 8-10 degrees. For travel March 5-12 we found roundtrip nonstop flights for an incredible $62 on Spirit from Dallas and $290 was cheapest nonstop on other airlines. Spirit flies this route on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and I think they must rotate this plane between Tampa and Fort Myers and Dallas. On this route the Big Front Seat is $45, but you’re getting a roundtrip airfare for $62, and other advanced seat assignments are $10-$25.

We also looked at Fort Lauderdale and from Dallas fares were $138 roundtrip on Spirit and $228 roundtrip on other airlines. Spirit does offer 2 flights per day on this route.

If you want to see both the Yankees and the Red Sox, you can fly into to Tampa and return out of Ft. Myers with two one-way tickets. You could also fly to Orlando for $118 roundtrip, spend some time with Mickey and Harry Potter, then head to the ballpark in Tampa in an hour’s drive.

Remember that when booking fares on Spirit, Tuesday is usually the cheapest day, followed by Wednesday. Other weekdays are cheaper than weekends, which are the most expensive days to fly on Spirit.

When you look at these prices it's hard to believe that you could fly so cheaply. As long as you know the rules, prepay all of your baggage fees online, consolidate your clothing and pack light and you have a flexible schedule, you could save a bundle on Spirit.

Completely off of baseball, over 100 million folks watched the Super Bowl last weekend in New Orleans and many of you probably got Bourbon Street Fever.  I know the group I was with talked about wanting to go back to New Orleans. We have been finding airfares for as low as $79.99 roundtrip on Spirit, so you could take your own trip to the Big Easy and ease that fever.

Effective April 2013, Spirit will be offering nonstop service from Dallas to over 24 U.S. and international destinations, including Cancun, Los Cabos and Mexico City, so we should see even more deals from Spirit. Just be careful with the fees.

To see last-minute package pricing for Spring Training getaways, visit www.bestfares.com/baseball.

 

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Pictured: Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz pitches during the Boston Red Sox vs. Florida Marlins spring training game on March 24, 2010 in Jupiter, FL. Jupiter is a trendy town just up from Palm Beach. Right across from this training facility is some really great restaurants, bars, and parks; all within walking distance.


     
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