Doing the math on Spirit’s new seat assignment fees

by Stephanus Surjaputra on July 2, 2008

Want an advanced seat on Spirit Airlines? Prepare to pay up.

Adding insult to injury, Spirit Airlines has decided to charge you between $10 to $15 if you want to book any seat in advance. Additionally, that fee is for each leg.

Following other airlines’ lead (like Air Canada and Allegiant Air), the “ultra low-cost carrier” will be charging you if want to book your seat assignments online. It’ll be $5 for a middle seat, $10 for an aisle seat, and $15 for a window seat.

Of course you can wait until you get to the airport, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the seat you want, especially if the flight is oversold.

Don’t forget that Spirit also charges you $15 for the first checked bag online, $25 for the first checked bag at the airport, and $25 for the second checked bag, regardless of whether you’re checking it online or at the airport.

Let’s figure this out here.

Let’s say you’ve somehow managed to snag a $10 fare on Spirit and you want advance seat assignments. You’re a party of 4, each member has one bag to check.

$10×4=$40 (before taxes and government fees).

You’re checking bags online, so $15×4=$60. You want advance seat assignments, so that’s another $40 (two aisles, one middle, one window).

Even before taxes and fees, your fare is already $140 (that’s a 250% increase).

And that’s one way!

Amtrak is looking better and better.

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  • Jen

    Um…that’s $140.00 for 4 people one way. That’s still only $35 per person. How much cheaper do you want it?

  • Christina

    Yeah… I think there’s a name for the kind of gross miscalculation that I just saw… fuzzy math.

  • Mark

    I think the actual amount of the ticket is besides the point. The issue is that Spirit (along with just about all the rest of the airlines) is trying to obscure the true price that you will pay for your trip by adding a bunch of additional fees that they aren’t disclosing up front. $35 is still a great deal, but it’s 4 times more than you thought you’d be paying when you were excited about snagging a $9 fare.

  • James Barret

    Steve, you are so right in your explanation. But it appears that there are some who are poor in math. Of course $35 per person each way is a great deal. But after taxes, baggage and seat assignment, the fair is approximately $75 per person each way. I flew in May of 2008 and there was no fee for online seat assignment and it was $10 a bag, not $15. So yes, they lead you to believe that you are getting a great deal and then milk you in every other possible area. What’s next? They’ll probably start charging for oxygen!!!!!!!

  • Joseph

    Spirit wanted to charge me for seat assignments on a flight that I booked before they started charging for these assignments. I could not pick out my seats at the time of booking because I was outside their “90 Day window” for assigning seats I e-mailed them and they kept telling me that I should have read their Terms of Contract. After numerous e-mails I think I finally got through to their heads that no matter how many times I read their Terms of Contract in May 2008 I would not have found any mention of seat fees that were instituted in June 2008. They finally assigned me seats without any fee, but I think they just got tired of hearing from me and never got the point I was trying to make.

  • http://www.ffocus.org Robert Johnson

    Generally speaking I think Spirit is the most “Honest” in their approach to fees. Closest thing to Ryan Air we have here in the USA.

    Where Spirit gets itself in trouble is due to the fact they operate on a shoestring some customer service issues fall through the cracks. Now if you compare Spirit customer service to Ryan Air, Spirit is like the Ritz-Carlton in comparission.

    Bottom line is when you buy cheap with Spirit that’s what you get! CHEAP. So suck it up and deal with it. To me they’re 10 times better than US Airways which promises you a Blue Sky and delivers a bucket of manure with a blue ribbon tied around it.

    Spirit promises little and delivers what they promise. If that’s not acceptable go to US Airways and get gouged on price and recieve Spirit level service. It’s your choice.

  • http://www.tripso.com Linda

    The fact that they do not tell you before you buy your ticket is what disturbs me.
    They tell you that you don’t have to pick your seat in advance , they can assign you one at the airport, but if you are traveling with other people thay cannot guarantee you will sit together.I still enjoy the convenience of flying out of Atlantic City but it would be nice to know the true fare without the hidden fees when comparing prices As for the baggage fees, almost all airlines are charging for checked bags so I guess that’s dificult to avoid.

  • bryan

    Spirit now charges by row, so further back the less $$ (7.00 for aisle, 10.00 window from rows 17 and higher) I booked for $210.00 round trip from Boston to Fort Lauderdale selecting aisle seats and checking 1 bag. The bag fee was $15.00, USairways, United, Delta are $20.00. The fare was still $45.00 less than the other Big Guys, and not to mention even more savings after bag fees and seat fees at the other carriers.

  • Kathryn

    I wish I would have known about this policy before I booked Spirit Airlines as part of my vacation package to Cancun, through Orbitz. Spirit was about $30-$50 cheaper per person roundtrip, than Delta, or Continental, or whatever else was available. We figured we’d save a littlle money. I immediately went onto Spirit’s site to assign our seats, and that’s where I saw the policy.

    We could get assigned seats in the back of the plane for $8 each and be guaranteed to sit together. But we have a connection in FLL, so that’s $32/person roundtrip. I should have chosen one of the other airlines, but I didn’t know there was this hidden fee…

    Thank goodness it’s not August yet, or we’d be adding $30 for our carry ons or $25 for checked bags (again, per leg of trip)…which would make our fare at least $132 more per person roundtrip if we chose crappy seats and checked 1 bag each. I hope Orbitz starts warning people about the Carry On bag fee once it’s in place, or they’re going to have a lot of unhappy customers who booked a flight, not knowing they couldn’t take a SINGLE bag with them without an extra fee

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