No Joke: Spirit Airlines Rolls Out Carry-On Bag Fee. Seriously.

I think I’ve been the only person in the world who has continually and consistently praised and defended Spirit Airlines.  I’ve written several times about how people need to stop complaining about them and just accept that in exchange for $20 fares, their service will not be approaching first class levels.  Wow have they tried and tried to piss off their customers, but I’ve stood by them through thick and thin.  Until today.

In this rather odd press release titled, “Spirit Airlines Announces Penny Plus Fares, Available on One Million Seats Annually, and Reduces Checked Bag Fees” you would expect that they are lowering their fares and reducing bag fees.  And you would be right.  Except that you are also wrong.

In short, they are charging “1 penny” for fares on a million seats.  Then you add in fuel, which they break out separately.  Though, I’m guessing, you have to purchase the fuel as you would never actually leave LaGuardia if you did not.

And yes, they did lower checked baggage fees to $15 for $9 fare club members ($25 for everyone else when checked in advance).

And then it’s $20 for carry-ons for $9 Fare Club Members, $30 for non-members booked in advance, and $45 if you don’t book in advance.  So if you…

Wait.  Did I just write that they’re charging you $20 to carry a bag on?  Yes.  Yes I did.  Really, it’s $30, because most people are not members of the club.  It’s cheaper to check the bag for $25, of course, but then you have to wait for your bag, something we’re all trained not to do.

Allow me to sum up:

You can buy a 1 penny ticket on Spirit.  Then you pay about $40 for fuel and $30 to bring a bag with you.  Each way.  I thought only Ticketmaster charged $140 for a 1 penny product.

And therein lies my problem with this:  You want to charge for a carry-on, be my guest.  I wish the gate agents the best of luck collecting $45 from someone for their carry-on .  My problem is that you no longer know how much the trip is going to cost.  And that is deceptive.  It’s only a matter of time (I hope) before the FTC steps in and puts an end to this, because Spirit has gone where I feared some airline would go:  you can advertise the fare as being free, when the trip actually costs $140.  Maybe I should just blame the FTC for allowing it to get to this point in the first place.

In case you were wondering, this goes into effect for flights purchased today departing after August 1.  Unless the FTC steps in before then.


  1. Spirit Airlines to charge for carry-on bags - pingback on April 6, 2010 at 5:58 am
  2. Perhaps the FTC (read:government) already got involved: they are just letting their “no fee for carry on bags act” expire so really it’s not an increase.

  3. Hey. This is the free market at work
    Airlines are in the business of making money.
    So they’ll do whatever they can to maximize profits, reduce expenses and offer as little as they can get away with.

    No one is forcing anyone to fly in a plane.

    Next you complainers want the government to step in and regulate.

    • It’s the free market – I have no problem with them charging fees. But there is a problem if the price they advertise does not represent the cost of the product. I understand that fees do not need to be in the advertised fare. But if something is a required part of the product – and a carry-on fee is approaching that — then calling it a separate fee is deceptive.

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