On Spirit Airlines, don’t dilly-dally paying for luggage. It will cost you. I’ve had enough

by Charlie Leocha on March 30, 2011

If you are a procrastinator, don’t fly Spirit. If you don’t want to pay for the permission of carrying your rollaboard on a Spirit flight, don’t book the flight. If you want a rock-bottom airfare, maybe Spirit is the airline for you. But, make sure to figure in all of the extra fees.

And if you are the kind of passenger who tries to stuff the full 50 lbs. of clothing into your suitcase, get ready for even more extra fees. Overweight is being redefined.

Watchout procrastinators! Spirit Airlines is now charging more for luggage if you wait to pay within 24-hours of departure. This applies to both checked bags and carry-on baggage.

What was once listed as baggage fees will not be renamed “Early Birdf Discount” fees and anyone checking in carry-on baggage or checked luggage will pay a penalty for making up their minds late. Any passenger checking any luggage within 24 hours of departure will pay an extra $5 and an extra $10 for if paid over the phone.

Spirit is the only U.S. carrier that charges for carry-on bags. Since April 2010, passengers who pay for carry-ons early — and aren’t members of the airline’s fare club — pay $30 for a carry-on that won’t fit under the seat. That same carry-on bag checked at the airport now will cost $40 at the counter or kiosk and $45 at the gate.

All travelers who purchased their tickets on or after March 24 are affected by this change.

Together with this new baggage policy, Spirit Airlines has decreased the weight from 50 pounds to 40 pounds for overweight checked bags .

Spirit will charge and additional $25 for luggage that weighs between 41 and 50 pounds. Bags weighing more than 50 pounds on Spirit incur $50 to $100 overweight baggage fees, depending on weight.

Most U.S. airlines start charging overweignt fees at 50 pounds.

Spirit seems to have worked overtime to come up with these fees. Is there any difference in the cost to carry a bag if it was paid for 48 hours prior to the flight, or if it was paid for 8 hours before the flight? What started out as an airline-justified cost because bag shouldn’t fly free and they cost us more money to transport, has now morphed into fees for fees sake.

I would love to hear Spirit Airlines’ rationale for this late fee. I used to be a fan of the plucky carrier, but now I’m planning to avoid them at all costs. They’ve gone fee crazy. Next, Spirit will be charging more for passengers who check in an hour before the flight rather than three hours earlier. Or passengers wearing brown shoes will be charged an extra non-black-shoe fee. Once we enter into the fees for fees sake, the sky is the limit.

What are your thoughts? I’ve simply had enough. There are no reasons to subject yourself to this kind of treatment.

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  • OTC

    Why anyone flies Spirit is beyond me, they are known for excessive fees, poor service, and cramming you in like sardines, but there is and always will be a group of people that look at the ticket price and jump alone and jump.

    That said, let them charge away, if someone is dumb enough to tolerate this for the illusion of savings, I say let them.

  • Paul

    A consumer isn’t required to fly Spirit Airlines. If you don’t like their fee schedules and policy then don’t fly the airline. If enough passengers stop flying Spirit then the airline will have to change their course. Until then, fly Spirit or not – other airlines modes of transportation will appreciate your business.

  • Frank

    Spirit tomorrow from LGA to ORD: $191.00
    AA tomorrow from LGA to ORD: $220.00

    There’s your thirty bucks right there. That’s “IF” you have a big carry on that wont fix under your seat. Otherwise, start doing your HOMEWORK, AA charges for bags over 50 pds, rate is $60 bucks. Spirit is for bags over 40 pds/under 50pds, rate is $30 bucks.

    Whew, I’m so glad I fly free. ;)

  • dcta

    Yeah, what Frank said…. do your homework. Charles you talk and talk and talk about how the airline should make all their fares and fees transparent. Apparently Spirit is doing that. You go on line, do your research and make a choice. Or you can work with a Travel Agent and pay his/her fee and s/he should give you all the information so you can make an informed decision. It’s your choice. Personally, I kind of like the fee for carry-on – I think the airlines should charge that rather than for normal weight checked bags. The last time I flew Spirit, it felt like that entire, full plane was boarded in five minutes! I am certain this is due to there being less carry-on luggage for the overheads. I’ve noticed on other carriers that are really policing the size of carry-ons now – last week, my US flight boarded in about 10 minutes. it was great!

  • Vacationagent

    I have no idea how airlines arrive at the fees they charge but this one seems curious to me. If it is more economical to check your bag 48 hours prior to flight then, is there a real reason the airline wants to encourage this behavior? Does it have anything to do with their load planning? Perhaps someone with load-planning experience could “weigh in” on this subject.

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  • Jay

    I am a Flight Attendant for a Charter Airline working with the Military. I normally fly commercial from where my trip ends to my home on the West Coast, and I usually fly in jeans/incognito as I am always on a full fare ticket.

    Recently, I was in Atlanta after working in from overseas on a delayed flight. I had no time to change before my flight on Spirit, and I showed-up, (in Uniform) with my rollaboard and a matching carryon/tote bag. Having never flown Spirit before, I was dumbfounded at thier fee’s! $45 dollars, then $30 dollars, then the “overweight fee”, seat assignment…..it just kept escalating out of control. I then asked if they “might show perhaps a little Professional Courtesy” to a Crew Member who was positioning home from overseas (on a FULL FARE ticket), to which they responded: “We don’t do favors for anybody, ESPECIALLY Crew Members”.

    When all was said and done, the fee’s ended-up being $63.00 more than I had paid for my ticket. And the in-flight experience you ask? Deplorable.

    As s Customer Service Professional who is trained to deal with the Travelling Public, I am both embarrassed and ashamed of EVERYONE I came across at Spirit. If this is any indication of the state of our industry, we all had better buckle up!

    Shame on you SPIRIT AIRLINES! You give ALL of us who work and LOVE this industry a bad name.

    NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  • http://www.tripso.com/author/leocha Charlie Leocha

    @dcta Transparent fees are important, but I don’t have to like them just because they are transparent! As I said in the article, I kinda liked Spirit. I understood or could justify all of their fees. But, this fee for a fee’s sake is reprehensible. There is no justification for charging more for a bag checked 23 hours before take off than one checked in 25 hours before take off. Then, what is the flight is delayed? It is all too ridiculous.

  • KF

    I keep holding my breath to see if and when the legacy carriers start charging for carry-ons beyond a reasonable size (say 18″x12″x7″). It would certainly speed up the boarding process – I’m tired of seeing the enormous rolling bags people somehow manage to bring on board and take up an entire bin, forcing others to gat-check. I pack light and don’t care to subsidize those who can’t, plus if the US legacy carriers really want to get strict they could limit the weight of your carry-on like many European and Asian carriers already do.

  • http://www.market.travel/ tripgirl6

    I have to agree that these fees are outrageous. But in the end, as a consumer, you still have the choice. And yes, a little research won’t hurt, that’s why savvy travelers plan their trips early to get the best deals.

  • Frank

    Recently, I was in Atlanta after working in from overseas on a delayed flight. I had no time to change before my flight on Spirit, and I showed-up, (in Uniform) with my rollaboard and a matching carryon/tote bag. Having never flown Spirit before, I was dumbfounded at thier fee’s! $45 dollars, then $30 dollars, then the “overweight fee”, seat assignment…..it just kept escalating out of control
    When all was said and done, the fee’s ended-up being $63.00 more than I had paid for my ticket. And the in-flight experience you ask? Deplorable.
    ====================================================

    @ Jay. How can that be? You were in ATL and were traveling home to the west coast and your FEES of $63.00 was MORE then your FULL FARE ticket price?? Really?
    If you paid around $120 from ATL to the west coast, I’d be THANKING Spirit Airlines.

  • Frank

    Opps……I now understand, 63 dollars MORE then the price of the ticket. NOT more then I paid.

    Charlie, please remove my posts. thanks

  • Robert

    Having recently flown on Spirit, with one small free bag, I heard several passengers complaining about charges for larger carry-ons and checked bags. Spirit is well known for their fees, and their minimal customer service. My flights were full, but boarded quickly, and all left and arrived on time or early. Those people who fly with a large amount of baggage will probably find better deals elsewhere, while for those who fly “light” and only want to get from point “A” to point “B” Spirit remains a good deal.

  • SoBeSparky

    Jay hit the nail on the head. Most travelers are leisure customers. They fly one or two times a years, never get elite status anywhere. Their concept of air travel is based on one anecdotal experience, maybe two. Spirit gives the entire industry a bad name. Do you think the occasional leisure traveler reads all that fine print, down to the 36-page contract of carriage?

    Caveat Emptor is meaningless when the information is obscure and wrapped inside a 36-page document.

  • Al Khatib

    I would not consider flying Spirit at any price! A twist on Raiph Nadir’s famous quote. it’s absurd that they are exasperating the traveling experience!

  • Dave B

    I don’t understand how an industry functioned for about 70 years just charging for a ticket to fly. That included your luggage, great service, food, beverage and some pampering.
    Now you get treated like cattle, no snack, a cup of soda (maybe), nickle and dimed for everything and many times rudeness.
    Fortunately I don’t have to fly and my last vacation my wife and I drove to Florida from Virginia. We had the time and it was really pleasant. We got to stop at places we wouldn’t have normally been able to see.
    There was no hassle of the crush on an airplane, TSA agents who think they are modern Gestapo and ignorant fellow passengers.
    I realize not everyone can do this. I didn’t save any money as we went leisurely taking two days each way. We did arrive home more relaxed.
    I do not miss flying at all.

  • Phill Orth

    What really irks me is the fact that most of the travel sites that price airline fares will list Spirit as the least expensive available. Rarely is that true when you add in luggage and the cost to join “Spirits club” which entitles you to their lowest price. When are we going to come up with a universal pricing system that allows travelers to compare apples to apples and see the hidden fees such as fuel surcharges and peak travel surcharges. It should also show the cost for a carry on and probably one checked bag. This woudl put the boys at Spirit in a real quandry on how to show themselves as the cheapest ticket…..which many times they are not.

  • dcta

    Philll –

    Certainly you understand that the answer to your query is “…that would be your local Travel Agent…”

  • http://www.tedsimages.com Ted

    Air travel now seems to be about continually stretching the limits of what passengers will tolerate. The TSA is constantly “enhancing” the intrusiveness and hassle (if not necessarily the effectiveness) of their “security measures,” while airlines are constantly working to increase fees while reducing both the quality and quantity of their service.

    The usual pattern is that these changes are initially met with various degrees of grumbling, possibly including boycott vows. Then the grumbling dies down, as travelers acclimate and accept the “new normal.” Once the grumbling has died down to baseline levels and “new normal” has (somewhat) settled, it’s time to start the stretching cycle again.

    The airlines and the TSA can get away with this because most travelers have no choice but to accept it. There surely is a small loss with each cycle, when some people reach the breaking point and genuinely stop flying. But that’s mainly those “twice-a-year” leisure travelers who are largely irrelevant to airline bean-counters. Most everyone else either needs to fly for business or are not (yet) willing to accept being restricted to staycations for the rest of their lives. They accept it all because they have no other choice, and possibly because they recognize the reality that the people who run airlines and the TSA don’t care about passenger complaints– and may even regard the dissatisfaction as validating the effectiveness of, respectively, their cost-cutting and their “security enhancements.”

    The question, of course, is how much can the airlines and the TSA stretch the limits of tolerance before the breakage becomes significant enough to affect large numbers of passengers the airline executives actually care about. If flying becomes unpleasant enough, even those who now believe they can’t do without it may reconsider. Video teleconferencing may not be as effective as face-to-face business meetings, but it may prove surprisingly effective if flying is enough of an ordeal. And hometown attractions may become amazingly appealing to vacationers who find flying unacceptably stressful.

    Air travelers have so far proved extremely resilient in what they’ll tolerate. But there are limits. And airlines and the TSA are doing everything they can to find and exceed them.

  • car

    The happiest day of my life will be if Southwest (taking over from Air Tran) comes into ACY. That will be the end of Spirit there. Until that happens, I wouldn’t fly on Spirit with a free ticket. I fly often and go to PHL every time even though I live 15 min. from the airport. (ACY)

  • dcta

    “Do you think the occasional leisure traveler reads all that fine print, down to the 36-page contract of carriage? ”

    If you are not willing to do your homework when making a purchase, then you simply MUST work with someone who will do it for you. Caveat emptor certainly applies.

  • Dave B

    After considering everything, the good thing about carry on bag charges is it may keep the idiots that carry everything with them and overload the over head compartments away.
    My wife and I carry one carry one for both of us and can hardly find a place to put it.
    But, the varying fee charges is stupid and discriminatory.

    ONE BAG ONE FEE FOR ALL

  • logdog

    They really don’t care if you don’t like their fees! The fees are out there for you to accept or not, they are a rock bottom, no frills,nothing than getting YOU (and only you, not your bags) from point A to point B, period. If you don’t like it, you certinaly are welcome to fly anyone else! If you want cheap, it is there for the taking…..cheap-o’s can’t be picky! Pay for what you want and quit your belly aching!

  • Kaylinda12

    I’ve been flabbergasted by their fees!  Sure, the airfare is reasonably priced, but you have to factor the fees in when considering the overall cost.  $250 total for me and my bags to fly both ways, WOW.

  • Bluie309

    sprit airlines suck all these people from india answer the phone and have no clue what they are talking about then try to charge u for checking in 24 hrs in advance and they dont even know there baggage policy i had to cuse that indian out hello can we get some americans to help us plz

  • Jacinta Arevalo

    I just bought my tickets I only have 2 pieces of luggage I hope this goes well

  • violetsky

    well, i like a bargain, but this $40 each way for one carry on bag has eliminated the savings. delta was $80 more for the flight! haha. jokes on me…i knew they had fees but jeez. seat assignment fees?? and yeah, i just got the memo about getting your luggage fee paid BEFORE you check in & print boarding passes. OH and my boarding pass has no gate info, so I called (India) and the jolly reservation agent told me-but maam…I am in India, I don’t know anything about the airport in Atlanta! lol .

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