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.