No Honest Customer Will Pay $100 to Carry a Bag on Spirit

You’ve probably seen at least one of the dozens of stories reporting on how Spirit is going to charge $100 for a carry on bag. Those stories are incredibly misleading at best. If you’re an honest customer, Hiding From Spirit's Bin Space Chargethere’s no way you’re going to pay $100 to carry a bag on the plane. And that’s exactly why it’s there, to punish those who aren’t honest.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but after seeing all the misinformation out there, I figured I should chime in with what’s actually happening. Here’s the story.

I actually hate the phrase “carry on fee,” because that’s not really what it is. It’s an overhead bin space fee. You can still bring on a bag without charge on any Spirit flight as long as it fits under the seat in front of you. But if you need to put a bag in the overhead bin, then Spirit will charge you and has done so for the last 2 years. It recently announced fee changes that begin on November 6 of this year, and one of those fees is $100. Will you have to pay the $100? Only if you’re dishonest.

Spirit has created a structure that gives you incentive to sign up for bin space in advance, because it will cost you less. The cheapest way to do this is to be a member of the $9 Fare Club. That’s a club that costs $59.95 a year and gets you access to fare specials, discounts on fees, etc. If you fly Spirit more than a couple times a year or if you have a lot of bags, it probably makes a lot of sense. Members of that club pay $25 per bag for bin space in advance, and it goes up from there. Here’s the rundown on a per bag basis:

$9 Fare Club Online Before Check In $25

$9 Fare Club Online at Check In $30

All Online Before Check In $35

All Online at Check In $40

All via Phone Reservation Center $40

All at Airport Ticket Counter $50

All at the Gate $100

Does Spirit have way too much complexity in here? Yeah, probably. It’s hard to wrap your head around all these different prices, but the concept is easy. Do it early and do it yourself and it’ll be cheaper.

If you book online at spirit.com, then you can sign up right there during the booking process for $35. Piece of cake. If you book through an online travel agent, then you have no clue what’s happening because they don’t do a good job of incorporating fees in any way. But you can still come to spirit.com and make that purchase if you know about it.

But let’s say you don’t know about the carry on fee because the online travel agent didn’t tell you. Or let’s say you just didn’t know in advance whether you were going to have a carry on or not. Well, you can still get it during the online check-in process for $40. What if you aren’t tech savvy at all? Then you can pay $50 when you check in at the airport ticket counter. I’ll agree that it is pretty awful when you show up to check in after having booked on an online travel agent site only to find that you have to pay for bin space. The online travel agents need to do a better job with that if they’re going to sell airline tickets. But the fee still won’t be more than $50.

So who is it that’s paying that $100 fee the media has been jumping on? Crooks. That is a fee for those people who blatantly disregard the requirement to pay for a carry on with the hope that they’ll be able to sneak it on the airplane at the gate. That’s a real pain for everyone when they try to do that, because the gate agent will see it, stop that person, and have to take them out of line to process the fee. It slows down the boarding process.

In other words, this fee is completely punitive. Spirit would like nothing more than for there not to be a single person to pay this fee. That means everyone is doing it before security, and that makes boarding much quicker. I think that particular $100 fee is a pretty smart way of creating a disincentive. If you don’t like it, then don’t try to game the system.


95 Responses to No Honest Customer Will Pay $100 to Carry a Bag on Spirit

  1. “If you don?t like it, then don?t try to game the system” …Or, you know, don’t fly Spirit.

  2. sprit NO WAY says:

    There NO WAY I WOULD EVER FLY THAT AIRLINE THEY ARE CRROKS AND A JOKe

    • Ben says:

      why are they crooks? They charge next to nothing for the actual plane ticket. Yes, you have to pay bag fees. My guess is you’d pay less by just checking your dang bag from the get go. These fees are for the people who try to cheat the system and stuff an oversized bag into a bin that was designed for small roller bags. It’s annoying, and quite frankly, I’m sick of having to deal with travelers who try and pull this stunt. You saved big bucks on your ticket, so pay a little more for your bag. If you don’t like it, fly some other airline, but stop trying to make it out to be the airline that’s criminal. You’re just a cheap skate who thinks flying across the country should cost you next to nothing even though your drive from one state to another will cost your $4 a gallon

  3. Konstantin says:

    How does it actually work on board, how do they enforce it? Do bags have labels that say they’re registered? What if you want to put just a jacket into the bins?

    • I’m also curious about this, since Spirit specifically calls out that “outer garments (e.g. coats, hats, and wraps)” always are free.

    • CF says:

      Konstantin – I don’t have any direct knowledge of this, but my assumption is that once you get onboard, you can put things in the overhead bin even if they fit under the seat. It would be tough to enforce otherwise as it would require serious vigilance on behalf of the flight attendants.

      There is another possibility. They could set it up to board people with carry-ons first. Then once they’re onboard, they could close the bins and board everyone else. It would be easier to police if you saw an overhead bin pop open, but nothing would stop someone from doing it inflight.

  4. Konstantin says:

    How does it actually work onboard? Are bags labelled so it is clear that the fee has been paid? What if you just want to put a jacket into the bins?

  5. NO Spirit says:

    No – I totally disagree. Its SPIRIT that are the crooks. I will never fly them. I would rather pay a few more bucks for the ticket on a REAL airline rather than be ripped off for my carry on.

    • Ben says:

      Ripped off? The only people who are ripped off are the passengers who are honest and pay the bag fee only to have cheap a@*es like you try and cheat the system. Honestly, when did people lose sight of the fact that airlines help you travel a long distance for not that great of cost? Do you think you could drive across the country for cheaper? Would it be worth it to drive when you can save hours or days flying? Why is it that people think they should be able to fly cross country, and receive first class treatment, for less than $200 round trip in the era of $4 gas? Too many travelers are idiots.

      • Is this you, Mr. Baldanza?

      • That’s an interesting point.

        Ryanair in the UK have allowed me to visit the most amazing placed for literally pennies, yet, when I think of Ryanair, I think “rip off”.

        And that’s some achievement: Ryanair’s business model allows people to fly for next to nothing yet they are despised. Way to go!

  6. Of course, you’re right, Cranky. But it’s always fun to hammer on Spirit.

    =M=

  7. Felix says:

    Incredibly self centered comment but how does NK handle OA nonrevs. Are the bag fees waived??

    • CF says:

      Felix – I have no idea. I would doubt, however, that bag fees would be waived.

    • Mark says:

      It’s amazing watching some of the comments left here. In fact, it’s not the airlines that are nickel and diming anyone. It’s the cheap passengers that are nickel and diming.

      Do you realize that the cost of flying, relative to inflation, is extremely low??? While prices of everything else skyrockets, airfares have remained affordable to the masses.

      There was a time when only the upper-middle class and higher could afford to fly. Now, almost anyone can do so. And why? Because of carriers like Spirit Airlines!

      Sure, there are a lot of whiny, cheap people who don’t get it and probably will never fly them. But, in the end, they are the fastest growing, profitable airline in the USA. This is because MOST people DO get it. They understand the benefits. They know that, if they don’t want to pay for a carry-on bag (or bin-space), that, not only do no they not have to pay for their’s, but they also are not paying for the passenger NEXT to them.

      Just a little reminder, too. If you really think that bags fly free on airlines like Southest, think again. You’re paying for that bag – and the bag that belongs to the person next to you, and so on…

      Thing bags fly free? Call Southwest and ask them to fly your bag without you.

      Oh, and the answer to the non-rev issue is, No. Spirit does not charge non-rev passengers for baggage.

    • NKFan says:

      Spirit provides non-revs with one free carry-on and one free checked bag, and with that, Zone 1 boarding.

  8. Mark says:

    Good analysis

  9. Chicago Chris says:

    I’ve flown Spirit many times because I know the system and have saved a lot of money thanks to the true un-bundling.

    I’m not sure I agree with “Spirit would like nothing more than for there not to be a single person to pay this fee” after all it is a business and they make a lot of money off fees. –That said, it’s not my fault people purchased a ticket for next to nothing and are too dumb to read the signs and heed the warnings. I’ve seen airport staff go out of their way to stress to stubborn travelers they need to check the bags to avoid a fee and be waved off.

    I probably wouldn’t let my mother fly this airline because she struggles with traveling, but I’m happy to squeeze into the small, non-reclining seats and fit my single item under the seat in front of me for less than half what the others charge.

    • CF says:

      Chicago Chris – I really think they would prefer it that way. It’s a pain to enforce at the gate. You have to pull someone out of line and take payment. That slows things down and a minute delay could be more costly than the bag fee in the first place. So I really do think that they’d rather never collect this fee and instead get $50 from someone doing it at the ticket counter.

      • You bring up a good point. I neglected to consider Spirit runs red eyes and it can be tough to make up the time it takes to check bags from the last person on when it happens frequently. Plus with all this coverage it makes it tougher to play ignorant. Still $100 has to ease the pain a bit.

  10. Dave says:

    Just curious but what happens when you pay your fees in advance and there is no room in the overhead bins to place your item when you board. Be willing to bet your just going to be stuck with no refund or help from the onboard crew.

    • CF says:

      Dave – Good question. I don’t imagine that Spirit has ever seen a full overhead bin after implementing this fee. People now have the incentive to check bags instead. But I would certainly fight if I ever found myself in the position of not getting what I paid for. I believe this would have to be refunded.

    • NKFan says:

      Those who pay for a carry-on bag are boarded in Zone 1.

      Plus, given that checked bags are cheaper (and Spirit, by the way, has a very low mishandled bag rate so checked bags tend to arrive with the customers about three times as often as most major carriers) a lot of people don’t bring anything more than a personal item.

      Plus at larger cities like FLL, Spirit staffs agents at the checkpoint to turn back those who have a big carry-on and who haven’t paid (meaning no Zone 1 on their boarding pass) so they don’t make it to the gate.

  11. AndrewBW says:

    This isn’t a lot different than fees for anything, whether it be for airline travel, credit cards, parking tickets, whatever: They exist to catch crooks, and to make money off of people who are too stupid or lazy to manage information, time, and process to make the system benefit *them* instead.

    I realize that sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. And I’m not declaring myself above this trend in modern business: I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of those screws, and it’s forced me to become as educated and alert a consumer as possible to cover my butt and make sure I’m putting my interests first.

  12. sprit as well as others really try to get every penny from the customers.
    also Jet blue is falling into that when they changed their points system it used to cost you 10 points to fly non stop in the US now it cost 17000 points to fly onw way to vegas from NYC.

    • Your comparison for JetBlue doesn’t hold. Sure it now costs 17,000 points, but they give a whole lot more points than they used to, so you’re comparing Honeybees and Elephants. They’re both living creatures, but definitely not interchangeable..

  13. skyguyj says:

    Regarding Non-Revs on Spirit…….here’s a REAL story:
    A few years ago, I worked a flight (I’m a flight attendant for a charter that handles the Military); from Kuwait into Atlanta. I needed to get home ASAP, so instead of laying over and then commercialling home to LAS the next day, I purchased a ticket online with NK. We arrived into ATL early, so I was able to make the flight in plenty of time. However, I was in Uniform, but on a full fare ticket. They charged me not only for my baggage but my seat assignment as well!

    While I will NEVER fly Spririt again, it is important to note that there is such a thing as Professional Courtesy and reciprocity between carriers. This is NOT the case with Spirit. They did not care that I had been up for 30hrs, working a Military flight from Kuwait, or that I was obviously an airline employee (in Uniform) yet ON a Full Fare ticket. All they cared about were the fee’s they could charge me!

    Bad policies and BAD customer service begets BAD PR……..you deserve all the flack Mr. Baldanza! Spirit is a shameful airline……..

    • Todd says:

      This is not a story about non-revs. It sounds like you bought a ticket and were annoyed that you were treated like any other passenger.

      • skyguyj says:

        Somebody ASKED the question above, I was merely answering it!

        • You answered a question different than the one being asked. You were flying on a full fare ticket, not a non-rev reservation. I doubt there is any leeway in Spirit’s system for this. If you’ve purchased a full fare ticket, you’re a paying passenger and are treated like one. You’re not a non-rev.

          • skyguyj says:

            The POINT I was trying to make, is whether you are a Crewmember (in Uniform) on a Full Fare ticket, OR a Non-Rev, there is no distinction with Spirit….EVERYONE pays the fee’s. That’s all.

          • @skyguyj – I’m sorry your logic doesn’t hold. Felix asked “how does NK handle OA nonrevs. Are the bag fees waived??”

            Nonrevs are entered into the system as non-revs, and as such are handed by NK’s non-rev policy.

            You were a paying passenger, entered into the system as a paying passenger, and were treated under the same policy NK uses for paying passengers.

            If NK is known for anything beyond fees, its for not bending its policies. There have been several incidents that have gotten all the way upto the CEO’s level and NK has refused to bend their policies.

          • NKFan says:

            It’s the same at many other airlines…. you buy a ticket, you are no longer a non-rev.

          • Don says:

            That would be just the kind of scamming they are trying to prevent. Someone dressed as a flight attendant hoping to avoid the bag fees because of “professional courtesy”. If you’re really a non rev you don’t need a full fare ticket. Even Spirit recognizes ID90 and participates in non rev flight cooperation.
            And for you folks griping about the carry-on bag fee in general, Spirit has one of the fastest boarding and exiting processes in the industry because of the limited number of carry-on bags. Its good for passengers since it get them off the plane sooner and its good for Spirit because it allows for faster turn around times.

  14. Airlines need Passangers to fly and they are making it harder and harder and more expensive to fly. The better wake up and that includes Jet Blue and their new points system

  15. SubwayNut says:

    Any one have an answer to the putting your coat in the overhead bin on Spirit question? I’m curious.

  16. Shane says:

    Its fair as long as there is plenty of signage in the check-in area. Like you pointed out, there are those who will book through an online distrubtion or travel agent and not have exposure to the fees prior to check in. And many people still do not check in online, especially for international flights since that sometimes puts you in the “special services” line (ahem, United) where it takes over an hour for the 3 people ahead of you to get processed.

    • CF says:

      Shane – I agree that the online travel agents are the real problem here. So does it fall on to the OTA to provide good information or does it fall on to the airline to say that it won’t participate in the OTAs if the notices aren’t good enough? Unless someone enters a Spirit frequent flier number, Spirit wouldn’t have any way of contacting these people, so it really does fall on to the OTA. Question is, should Spirit just walk away from OTA sales?

    • Don says:

      When has any of you seen Spirit on a Kayak or Orbitz site? You haven’t. You can only buy tickets from Spirit’s online web site. There is plenty of “signage” on the web site so nobody has an excuse at the ticket counter.

      • CF says:

        Don – That’s not correct. Spirit does sell through those outlets. Go give it a shot yourself and you’ll see it there.

  17. JayB says:

    Overhead storage bins and carry-ons that go in them, I believe, are becoming such a waste and a great frustration for the average traveler. Likewise, are we paying much more and getting much less security by the amount of work carry-ons are creating for TSA?

    Just wondering, on the average flight, what is the percentage breakdown of baggage weight and cube by (1) checked bags, (2) carry-ons placed in the overhead bins, and (3) items that are stored under one’s feet?

    And, as far as the work of TSA for the passenger and carry-ons, how much of their work and the cost therefor would be eliminated if there were no carry-ons, other than what one would store under their feet?

    Frankly, I would be happy if they eliminated all overhead storage bins. The items that would be allowed in the cabin, such as any clothing one thinks is necessary for entering and leaving the aircraft, anything that one needs to use for work during or otherwise enjoying the flight, and anything that that one has to to have to take care of someone else, be it a child, senior, ill person, whatever. Any of those items that wouldn’t fit under one’s seat should be put in a cabin closet, designed by our best cabin designers and engineers.

    TSA security processing work and costs, I believe would be dramatically reduced. Airlines, of course, could charge whatever they wanted for checked bags, just as they have that right for charging passengers. Of course, make increased efforts to speed up, improve efficiency, and eliminate loss and damage to checked bags. But, skip the $100 threats. Just get rid of carry-ons.

    • David M says:

      It was kinda like that right after the liquids ban was put into place. Nobody could figure out what was allowed to be carried on so most people were checking bags. It got a lot easier since so many fewer people were carrying on bags and more people were checking. Eventually the airlines ruined this by implementing the checked bag fee (I know American was the first of the major carriers to do this; I can’t recall if Spirit was doing it before AA), and everyone went back to trying to carry everything on. And yes, this slowed down boarding, which was cited as the reason Spirit started charging for carry-ons in the first place, and even with the new fees it’s still always cheaper to check the first bag with Spirit than to carry it on.

      You can’t ban all carry-ons though because there are still people who will need to travel with sensitive/fragile/expensive/etc. items from time and aren’t about to trust baggage handlers not to break or steal them.

    • The TSA also processes checked luggage. So it probably is a zero sum game from their perspective..

      • JayB says:

        I find it hard to believe that the time and cost for processing a carry-on and a checked bag are the same. Carry-ons have more TSA restrictions than do checked bags. Thus, it would seem the processing of the carry-on takes more time and effort to ensure everything is OK and results in greater cost to TSA than does the processing of a checked bag.

        No study proving this, but it just seems logical.

        • True, although carryons go through just a plain ol’ x-ray machine. AFAIK checked bags go through a bomb scanner, which isn’t exactly cheap.

          • Kilroy says:

            Carryons also get randomly swabbed and tested, however, especially if they have to open the bag.

            I agree with JayB, I suspect that checked baggage is much faster and cheaper to process for the TSA, given that there are relatively fewer interruptions. If I were the TSA, I’d run everything through a conveyor leading into an X-ray, then figure out how many “bag checkers” you want to employ on the other side of that conveyor. When there are no bags flagged by the X-ray machine, the bag checker gets a random bag to check, ideally without telling them what to look for or what is wrong, or even that it is a random bag (keep them honest and alert).

            Even with all this, I still think you would get faster throughput (in terms of the number of pax, if not in terms of bags) per person-hour than with the 3-4+ TSA agents per security lane, counting ID checkers, supervisors, gropers, etc.

  18. The comments that Spirit are crooks is not right since no one is being forced to fly Spirit. As long as they are up front with their fees and polices, they are not crooks.

    I believe when they say they don’t want anyone to have to pay the $100 as if even half the plane did it would be doing so at the gate and slowing the boarding process and the flight leaving late. If that happen on even half their flight, it would mess up their whole flight schedule.

    I bet if people were to check Spirits ticket prices/fees and then other airlines prices/fees in the same market they may learn that even with all the fees Spirit might be a lower option for them.

    • Todd says:

      I think the concern is that Spirit’s practices are so far outside of the mainstream that less-informed travellers may get stuck paying fees they never anticipated, especially since Spirit fares show up on Orbitz, etc. (where there are fewer warnings about ancillary fees).

  19. Maarten says:

    A quick Kayak search reveals that, actually, Spirit is not cheap. Especially if you factor in the extra fee’s they charge. I checked three sectors that are serviced by Spirit and competitors, and in all three instances, Spirit comes out more expensive. Here is what I discovered (dates May 30 – June 6; took the cheapest reported option):

    NY – Miami. Cheapest option is AA, with a base fare of $ 170. Check a bag at $ 25, carry on for free. Sprit charges $ 233 before adding anything is added like checked bag at $ 28 if done online, or carry on if done online at $ 35 (I did not calculate the Club fee because that only pays out if you intend to fly Spirit at least 3 times per year).

    LA – Chicago. Cheapest option again is AA at $ 290; $ 25 more if you check your bag. Spirit charges $ 272, but even taking carry on takes you over the lowest AA fare.

    Dallas – Detroit. Cheapest option is US Airways at $ 434; add $ 25 for a checked bag online. Spirit charges $ 443 before adding any charges.

    On a related note: why the heck is Dallas – Detroit so incredibly expensive?

    • Sean S. says:

      Like many other allegedly low-cost X, Spirit in many cases ends up being a bad value in most cases. The $9 dollar fare club is an interesting concept in theory, but in practice is again a much worse deal than simply being a frequent flier with a specific airline and/or having a mile card with a specific airline. By having a Delta SkyMiles card I get free checked baggage, and build up in my day to day spending free miles anyways.

    • CF says:

      Maarten – First, I wouldn’t rely on third party sites. I just did a search on Spirit’s site and it was $10 cheaper than it showed on Kayak for one of your searches. Also, Spirit has a coupon today on the homepage that’s good for $24 off. So the fare is now getting down below $240 for Spirit on that Chicago flight.

      But also, the three examples you chose aren’t going to be representative of everything out there. Spirit is often cheaper, and that’s why people fly the airline. It won’t always be true, but it’s bound to be that way much of the time.

      • Maarten says:

        I think my point is exactly your last point, sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they are not. Legacies have learned to be pretty competitive and offer a more inclusive product, especially if you rise in their elite ranks and/or sign up for a product like the credit card mentioned by Sean S. People get blinded by Spirit’s marketing attitude that they are the cheapest which they simply aren’t… they are most times at the low end of “par” and the discount is in the 10’s not the 100’s. Kudos to Spirit for pulling off the consumer’s perception.

        Regardless, I prefer an “all inclusive” (all taxes, fee’s etc.) price system as Europe has made mandatory, much to the chagrin of Ryanair et al…

        • CF says:

          Maarten – I don’t think anyone with elite status is buying into Spirit’s marketing and not checking prices. Spirit is the most friendly in that area since it does participate in OTAs and allows people to compare. Southwest is the one that deserves the gold star for marketing. Its fares are rarely the lowest in my experience, but people still think it is and so they go to Southwest.com and book.

  20. GOOD WORK SPRIT LIKES TO MAKE YOU THINK YOUR GETTING A DEAL,BUT LIKE ALL THE OTHERS THEY ARE GETTING MORE $ FOR LESS SERVICE. HOPE CRANKY LOOKS INTO THE JET BLUE pOINTS SYSTEM . uSED TO BE 10000 MILES AND FREE RT AIR NOW IT 17000 TO THE SAME DESTANATION.

    • @sprit NO WAY: I recommend removing your computer’s capslock key. You apparently don’t know how to operate it properly.

      • Kilroy says:

        Not to mention the multiple posts ranting about the same issue. Sounds like this guy has come straight from the comment section of YouTube.

        In all honesty, one of the things that makes Cranky so interesting are the comments, at least some of which (yours included, most of the time) are well-thought-out, logical, and fact based.

  21. i AM SORRY THAT WAS 17000 POINTS ONE WAY WHEN YOU WERE ABLE TO GET A RT FLIGHT FOR 10000

  22. CHagen says:

    The last dozen years have seen the decline and fall, self-inflicted and otherwise, of a once-great national air transportation system. This piece of idiocy is just another nail in the coffin.

  23. I think it is really disingenuous that SWA touts their no carry on fee policy in ads, while their AirTran unit gladly charges for them…

    • That is kind of interesting, isn’t it?

      • NKFan says:

        It’s because since Southwest after years can’t figure out how to merge reservations systems, and they are slowing making FL smaller and smaller, bag fees are probably the only thing causing FL to make them money, since they still can’t codeshare and connect customers.

  24. Jim says:

    I have never flown Spirit, but I am glad that some airline is challenging the system. The US airline market is an oligopoly where the few airlines all have practically the same product and same fare structure and don’t really compete against each other. We need airlines like Spirit to think outside the box and do things differently in order to inject some competition into the market.

  25. One point seems to escape the critics. No one is forcing anyone to fly Spirit. Believe it or not, there are other airlines.

    • Kilroy says:

      Exactly. This!

      Don’t like Spirit? Take the bus or another airline!

      Want to whine that they are the “only way” to get where you are going in a reasonable amount of time? Then either suck it up and take them, knowing what you are getting into (and setting your expectations accordingly), or don’t go. Remember that the alternatives in the past would have included a stagecoach over bumpy roads, a sailboat, a railroad, etc etc.

  26. Kilroy says:

    Thanks for point this out Cranky.

    As much as people will rant and rave about Spirit’s policy (want to take bets as to when the first gate agent will be assaulted, probably by a guy in his 70s who bought a ticket from Expedia or Travelocity, who failed to read the fine print yet clicked “I agree” anyway…?), I like it. No one forces pax to fly on Spirit, and it is not being deceptive about it (online travel agents, possibly, Spirit, no). If the market likes a completely unbundled airline like Spirit or RyanAir well enough for that airline to survive, great! It’s another option for pax, and one that, if it is making money or close to it, is obviously perceived as a better option for many people. Otherwise, let the market decide, and if you don’t like Spirit’s policies, there are other options (other airlines, Greyhound, car, train, boat, pick one or more) that may suit you better.

    What I find really funny is that most of the people ranting about Spirit etc are people who, I would wager a day’s pay, have either never flown Spirit or who did fly them and NEGLECTED TO INFORM THEMSELVES of Spirit’s policies and no-frills style. For crying out loud, if you don’t know much about a company, look them up on Wikipedia or Google at least, and you will quickly get a basic idea of them.

  27. Tomstrr says:

    On detail I didn’t catch in Crank’s article is that the usual costs to check a bag is only a couple of dollars ($2 or about 10%) less then then it usually costs to carry on a bag (costs vary a LOT – The bit Crank supplied is only a fraction of those posted). This leads to all sorts of things: 1) Once people figure out that there is little financial impact to carry on, you might expect that more people will (faster, more secure, etc), hence slowing boarding, etc. 2) since taking a bag is a pretty mandatory part of much travel, these charges look an awful lot a mandatory fee, which make it look a lot like Spirit – again – is indulging in unethical and now possibly illegal price reporting – Crooks! – to quote Crank (certainly more so then those who were not informed about Spirit’s unique practices). 3) These costs don’t appear to be in line with the actual costs of providing the service – hey, you have to carry it on yourself – so they have an aroma of money-grubbing. 4) So your best bet is to WEAR all your clothes :)

    If Spirit really wanted to save money and improve the passeenger experience, they would slash the cost of checked bags and speed up boarding. I suspect that we are more likely to see fees for ALL carry-on items.

    • If you can manage to get your clothes just in a carry on bag that goes under the seat, there is no need to check a bag or put it in the overhead compartment. I tned to be an overpacker, and I can put three days or so of clothes in a bag under the seat.

  28. Jeff Sigmon says:

    Spirit has a place in this business and they appeal greatly to the experienced frugal leisure traveler who knows the system and reads the fine print. Spirit appeals to someone like myself for vacations, except when traveling for work…

  29. Jim M says:

    Timely post. My brother almost lost his mind paying the $50 fee on a DEN-LAS flight this weekend. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and didn’t read the fine print — but he NEVER reads the fine print. He just looked at the WN price, and then the Spirit price and thought he was pulling a deal. Not so fast. . . .

    I think Spirit’s model is fairly bizarre, but it seems that they do have some brand loyalty. They don’t service any routes I take for business or fun so no first hand knowledge. . . .

  30. chinger says:

    The airline industry deserves it’s fair share of criticism, however most people seem to jump on every little thing an airline does and call foul. This is no exception.

  31. This is slightly tangental, but there was a really good article at the WSJ: A Stingy Spirit Lifts Airline’s Profit Random tidbits: Spirit was started as a trucking company of all things..

  32. Why are people who pay at the gate branded as crooks?
    Why must flying with an airline require so many hoops to jump through? Are you really telling me that this “transparency” is good for the customer?
    Why must passengers who only want to get from A to B at a price they can afford “play the game”?
    If this transparency is so good for us consumers, why do I feel ripped off?

    • CF says:

      William Shearer – I say they’re crooks, because they would have been given many opportunities to pay a lower rate in advance. When they check in (whether online or at the ticket counter), they will be specifically asked if they need to carry a bag on the airplane. If they say no, then they are trying to skirt the system.

  33. stan says:

    this has nothing to do with ‘honesty’.

    i have no idea why you love spirit so much. it seems like you won’t sleep until everyone is paying an ‘overhead bin fee’

    of course this blog has just become advertising space for your concierge service anyway, so maybe it’s just time to move on….

  34. Jim says:

    Why should I pay even $1 for overhead bin space? First come, first serve. Maybe if the airline was a little more diligent in both the number and size of bags a passenger is trying to drag on board as well as those bin hogs who put BOTH of their 1+1 bags in the overhead (instead of the small one under the seat in front of them) there wouldn’t be a bin space problem. But, what do the airlines care? They just found some additonial “cargo capacity” for which they can generate more revenue. Screw Spirit. Never flown ‘em, and never will.

  35. Gio says:

    Overhead bin space ???? Absolutely RIDICULOUS ! Carry on bags are meant to be stored under the seat in front of you and in the overhead bins. Charging for bin space is purely a cash grab, it has nothing to do with honest or dishonesty!

  36. Pingback: Travel News - May 12th 2012 to May 16th 2012

  37. Dave Goldhirsch says:

    I am a professional travel agent for over 35 years and I have seen it all. I had a client fly on the original unbundled airline, PeoplExpress on its first day of carriage.
    But Spirit, and Ryanair, take it to a whole new level. I have a simple answer. As the French would say, ca n’existe pas. I just ignore Spirit and use other airlines.
    Also, there could be “honest” disagreements as to what fits under a seat and what will not. That could be a $100 question. Why bother? There are always other carriers.

  38. Alan says:

    So I have to disagree with your Southwest claims. I just priced a round trip from Chicago to Tampa. Depart Chicago on June 4 and Return on June 8. The round trip fare on Southwest is $286.40 and the Fare on Sprit for the Same days is $359.00. So the Fare on Southwest with a checked bag and 2 carry-ons is $72.60 less then Sprit with no checked bag or carry-on. If you check a bag and a carry-on you are looking at well over $100 more on Sprit. That’s the Hard numbers. You just can’t argure with the numbers.

    • CF says:

      It’s actually very easy to argue with numbers when you provide only one datapoint. Go look at the average fares from Southwest and Spirit and adjust for stage length. I’m fairly certain you’ll see Spirit’s fares are far less.

    • Alan for the days/times you booked WN may have been lower then NK, but if you go to a travel agency or your companys travel department and have them pull up the fares each airline publishes you would see NK is lower then WN for CHI-TPA. NK may be sold out for the lower fares when you go to book which can happen with any airline, but overall they can still have the lowest publish fare.

      For Chicago-Tampa here is what NK/WN have for published fares
      NK – 104.00/134.00/164.00/244.00/344.00
      WN – 176.00/201.00/230.00/263.00/301.00/393.00/425.00/447.00

      Notice how much lower NK’s lowest published fare is compared to WN and WN has three fares that are higher then the highest NK published fare.

      Both airlines only publish one way fares and above fares include the 7.5pct US tax.
      Both must collect AY/XF taxes for routing booked (nonstop or connections)

      So check what each airlines charges for their various fees to judge who overall is the lower of the two airlines.

      If you had booked other days NK might have had the lower fare. That’s were being flexible and booking far ahead of time can get you the lowest fare.

  39. Alan says:

    OK, went back and did Las Vegas and Los Angeles from Chicago, same dates and one carry on and one checked bag. Southwest $325 Sprit $331 to LAS. Southwest $299.40 and Sprit $355 to Los Angeles. I have been in the Travel Industry for 38 yrs and I worked for an Airline, Hotel, Tour Operator and a Very Large Travel Company during my career and I am considered an expert in the travel industry. Spirt will always have their customers, but you have to consider all of your costs and what your time is worth. The less hassle the better when you travel for a living. Remember, a CHEAP flight may not always be a GOOD VALUE.

  40. Jake says:

    This airline sucks customer service and outrageous pricing for baggage. No honor for military either.

  41. nate says:

    So I went through the gates when I departed through spirit with my one bag, which I barely had anything in it. They let me through with no problem. When I board my on returning flight, they had me step aside due to my bag being too big, note that I only have 2-3 days of clothes, which is clearly nothing. She insisted that I check my bag in this make shift bag size checker thing. My bag was too big, and she said I needed to pay $100! I was like, listen I am a active duty Marine and as you know the military gets paid close to nothing and I cannot afford your outlandish amount. She then stated, well sire can you pay $50? No I cannot, and I wont. We went back and forth and I kept telling her I am not going to pay, and finally another guy came over from Spirit and told me I can go since I was military, but to make sure not to have this happen again. Why is it that they don’t exclude military first off? And who in their right mind would pay $100 to put a bag in the overhead compartment. Spirit clearly doesn’t check where you place your bag when you board the plane, so you can easily place it in the overhead. Customer service is horrible, but me wanting to save money I would rather pay the ticket price of Spirit and deal with the horrible customer service than pay $300-$400 on the same flight.

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