Spirit Adds a PUF When You Buy a Ticket

A piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday noted that Spirit is planning to start charging a PUF, or Passenger Usage Fee, for anyone who doesn’t book their tickets at the airport ticket counter. Even though the author said it was coming in the future, it looks like they didn’t waste any time, because it’s already out there. The article makes it sound like this is a new invention, but Allegiant has been doing it for quite some time, as those who read the comments on this blog would already know. . . .

From the checks I did, it appears that this fee is $4.90 each way per person. So, for a family of four traveling roundtrip, this could be a nice chunk of change. The fee will be attached to any booking that’s not made at the airport ticket counter. This is the same scheme as the “convenience fee” that Allegiant tacks on to its tickets. It makes no sense from a cost reduction standpoint so it’s frustrating. But, it does make sense from a revenue standpoint – people aren’t going to go to the airport and wait in line for something like this. And that’s why this kind of fee will stick with carriers like this.

It’s my understanding that they couldn’t put this on every single itinerary. It’s actually not on flights to Colombia and Panama because it’s not allowed by the governments down there! But the rest of you will get stuck with it unless you head on in to an airport to buy.

It’s very interesting that the Journal article notes that Spirit had to come to terms with the feds on using the fee, because the first attempt to use it was considered deceptive. I haven’t heard that Allegiant has had any trouble with it, so I assume that they’re being more upfront about it than Spirit here. But the result is the same – another fee.

Those who know Spirit will not be surprised by this at all. It’s par for the course for an airline that wants to advertise extremely low fares and then pile on extra charges all around. It’s very much like Ryanair in that way, so just make sure that you understand how they operate when you decide to fly with them. Assume they’ll charge you for everything, and you won’t face any unexpected surprises.

My guess is that we’ll see even more of these types of fees if they can get away with it. Maybe they’ll start charging a fee to use a jet bridge to board? Or perhaps they’ll charge a fee for not being subject to a body cavity search at security. The opportunities are endless.

Get Posts via Email When They Go Live or in a Weekly Digest

Leave a Reply

19 Comments on "Spirit Adds a PUF When You Buy a Ticket"

avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Feldspar Goldstein
Guest

These kind of fees kill me. Do they really want people to come to the airport to buy tickets? Of course not. So they will charge a fee for booking online but not for a transaction with an actual person? This is the definition of ripoff.

David
Guest
Allegiant and Spirit want to be a little bit careful on this – although this applies more to JetBlue and Southwest. A few years back, Internet use for leisure purposes tended to be based around a fixed telephone line so anything online was done solely from home, the office or an Internet cafe. Now everyone and their dog seems to have a WiFi laptop, with good coverage in all urban areas. There are quite a few people travelling for leisure who carry a laptop with them on a flight and who are using WiFi either on the way to the… Read more »
Voyager0927
Guest
The key to imposing junk fees without running afoul of regulators is that they must be incurred for something that is theoretically optional. You can impose an internet booking fee, since it is theoretically possible that people could go to the airport itself to buy a ticket. But you can’t, for example, impose a jet bridge fee unless you give passengers the option to walk outside and up the stairs. My predictions for the next junk fees are for carry-on luggage (since you could theoretically walk onto the plane with nothing except the clothes on your back) and airport check-in… Read more »
Paul
Guest
I understand all the fuss about fees etc etc. But playing the devils advocate here, how come the cost of an airline ticket to go from destination A to destination B is rougly the same or perhaps cheaper than it was 30 years ago? And your complaining about 5 or so dollars? If airline tickets followed the cost increase of everything else in society, I don’t think many people would fly. Maybe, thats the way it should be, flying is a privilege, not a right. Some people should take the train, and some people should take the bus. I personally… Read more »
Thomas
Guest
This just leaves me wondering: what’s the ticket fare actually supposed to cover? Fuel-surcharge, security-tax, airport-tax, food-tax, beverage-tax (ok, they call it “buy-on-board”), bag-fee-for-every-bag. Now a “ticket booking fee”? What the h*** is left to include in the ticket-fare? Seriously, what’s included in the ticket fare any more? It’s not “transport from A to B” any more, since the “fuel surcharge” is eating at least part of this. It’s not the overhead not directly related to the operation of the aircraft (ticketing, accounting etc) since this “ticket booking fee” addresses that part. It’s not the necessary operational costs of an… Read more »
Thomas
Guest
Paul Not complaining about the price, but about the deceptive marketing: “buy a flight from ORD to CDG for 10 USD” — and with the small print: +200 USD fuel surcharge, +150 USD security-tax, +50 USD for checked bag, +50 USD for a cold sandwich +50 USD ticket-booking-fee + 400 USD airport taxes + 50 USD lav-use-fees. (OK, I pulled these numbers out the sleeve) So the “10 USD transatlantic” becomes 960 USD, really, if you want to get across. Give me an airline company stating “960 USD” and it’s fine. Give me one stating something 950 USD too low… Read more »
Mark Ashley
Guest

This isn’t the first time Spirit has tried this. They tried charging a “web convenience fee” back in July 2008, but rolled it back just days later.

This is one of those zombie ideas that you can keep trying to kill, but it just won’t die. Sigh.

Paul
Guest

Thomas

I absolutely concur with you on the notion of not being truthful.

It seems to me that whoever purchases an airline ticket these days needs to be a seasoned lawyer to break the code on exactly what’s being paid for.

David SF eastbay
Member
Just think of the people in Europe paying those $9.00 fares which can have $100.00 to $200.00 in government taxes added to the ticket. Their cheap fare just added up. It’s just plain stupid to have fares like that. An ad showing a fare for $9.00 (or whatever it would be in Euros or Pounds) grabs your attention and the taxes that go to each government would be paid on any fare anyway. So no wonder the airlines tack on a fee for everything. You just know one day soon they will be charging a set fare and you will… Read more »
trackback

[…] Cranky Flier noted today that Spirit Airlines, known for its lack of taste and ultra-low-fares philosophy is […]

Rui A.
Guest

I think this is starting to become more widespread in the European Union, but in Portugal you cannot advertise a fare without including all applicable taxes in the final price.
So when you see flag-carrier TAP, for instance, advertising “Lisbon to Rome, 59€ one-way”, you’re only paying those 59 euros and nothing more.
Unlike Ryanair who still advertise fares at 1 € each way but then add fuel surcharge, credit card surcharge, check-in at the airport surcharge, checked luggage surcharge…

Alex
Guest
“Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Give people the option to walk up and down a bunch of stairs or allow them to use the jet bridge for $1. I bet a lot of people would just pay the $1.” Cranky, I have to say that is one of the most American things i’ve heard in a long time! You’d seriously consider paying to avoid having to walk up 20 stairs? As always a very thought provoking piece. I don’t see fees continuing to go up like most people predict. Quite a lot of the fees now are for… Read more »
Ron
Guest

I was told that certain European LCCs (easyJet come to mind) intentionally shun jet bridges because stairs are faster to set up and allow boarding from both front and aft, reducing turnaround time and thereby increasing aircraft utilisation. Does anyone know if this is correct? If so, then jet bridges do incur a real cost compared to alternatives.

Ron
Guest

Sorry about being ambiguous — I know (from experience) that easyJet often use stairs even when jet bridges are available, e.g. at STN (which was my home airport for 3 years). I was told that the reason was turnaround time, and I was wondering whether that is indeed the case.

wpDiscuz