Spirit Airlines the most fee based airline in America wants to start charging you $100 starting November 6, for you to bring on a roller bag on to their plane.
When it comes to added fees, Spirit Airlines is the champion of U.S. based airlines and the carrier is at it again. Beginning November 6, Spirit will charge as much as $100 to bring a roller bag on board one of its planes.
This is one of those dupe fees. Many of you have not flown Spirit or Allegiant and may not know that these two airlines charge money for overhead bags. Where all other airlines that fly international or domestic have no such fee.
I think Spirit has a war room where they openly discuss 'how can we dupe air travelers out of more money by slipping in sneaky fees that you may not be aware of'? This airline, with their numerous fees, take the honorary title of 'snakes on a plane'.
Before I start beating Spirit up over its fees, I have to say that the airline does have a positive side. Spirit does offer low fares and the airline helps keep airfares down by forcing other airlines to either match or lower their fares in the same markets. Spirit has come into the Dallas market big time and is taking advantage of routes that Southwest can’t fly nonstop.
Spirit offers nonstop flights from Dallas to 15 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Phoenix/Mesa and Tampa, seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach and beginning June 21, flights to Detroit, Portland (OR), San Diego and Toluca/Mexico City. Prices to cities where Spirit offers two flights a day, like Fort Lauderdale and Chicago, have gone down and fares to Detroit have dropped by $200 since Spirit started selling tickets.
One fee that can be a good deal on Spirit is the Big Front Seats fee. If you request a regular seat assignment ahead of time, you’ll be paying $1-$50 each way and sitting in 3 by 3 rows, so it could be well worth it to pay a little more and get a seat in the front of the plane with two by two seating, with wider seats and an extra six inches of legroom. It is worth noting that we looked at a lot of routes and didn’t find any seats available for less than $10 each way.
When we checked flights, the price when paying online for the Big Front Seat fee from Dallas to Portland or Phoenix was $35 one-way and $60 to Fort Lauderdale and it was $10-$25 each way for seats further back in the 3 by 3 rows. These Big Front Seats are similar to first class seats on other airlines and it can cost you a whole lot more to fly up front on those airlines. For example, the cheapest one-way flight we found from Dallas to New York was well over $1,200 in first class. While you won’t get the free food and drink other airlines offer in first or business, you will have more room and no middle seat to deal with and on a long flight to a destination like Portland, that would be well worth the fee.
Spirit is a true a la carte airline and while the carrier calls its fees optional, it is hard to avoid many of them. For example, beginning June 30, the airline will charge $2 to print a boarding pass at the airport kiosk and the charge is already $5 to have an airport agent to print a boarding pass. Passengers that are new to the airline are especially vulnerable to these fees, because online fee prices are cheaper and you have to pay more if you wait until you get to the airport to pay. The carry-on bag fee applies to bags that must go in the overhead bin. The airline does not charge for a bag that can fit underneath the seat in front of you. If you pay for both carry-on and checked bags online, you will pay a reduced rate. If you pay the carry-on baggage fee online, the current fee is $30 each way and that will increase to $35 each way on November 6. If you pay at the airport kiosk, you’ll pay $40 each way or $50 each way beginning November 6.
We believe that the $100 gate fee is being imposed to discourage people from paying at the gate and slowing down the boarding process. Also, people will think the $50 fee to pay at the kiosk seems reasonable by comparison. We saw something like this years ago, when the major airlines wanted to switch to electronic tickets to eliminate paper tickets. A lot of people wanted nothing to do with paperless tickets, so at first the airlines tried to deter people from wanting paper tickets by charging a $25 fee. That didn't work, but what made most of us switch from paper tickets to the e-ticket method wais when most of the major airlines imposed an additional $50 fee if you wanted a paper ticket. It seemed like e-tickets were an overnight sensation because nobody wanted to pay the $50 fee and the paper ticket flew away. Some of Spirit’s many other fees include $2 for coffee or tea, $3 for a soda, yes we did say $3 for a soda, $1-10 for snacks (the cheapest we found was $4), $1-15 for drinks (the cheapest we found was $2) and $8.99-$16.99 each way for an Internet booking fee called the ‘Passenger Usage Fee’ that you can only avoid by purchasing tickets at the airport. (We found the average Internet usage fee was $33.98 roundtrip.)
I don’t see many of you wanting to go out to the airport, pay for parking and stand in line to purchase your ticket, but if you’re traveling with a family of four, the savings could be worth $136.
You’ll also want to be aware that the weight limit on checked luggage is only 40 pounds, not the 50 pounds that other airlines allow. In addition to the checked luggage fee, you’ll pay an extra fee of $25 for bags weighing 41-50 pounds, $50 for bags weighing 51-70 pounds and $100 for bags weighing 71-99 pounds. So if you go out to the airport after November 6, if your checked bag is 48 pounds, you’ll be required to pay $45, plus another $25 for the overweight fee, for a grand total of $70. That’s big bucks when compared to the $20-$25 other airlines charge for the first checked bag under 50 pounds. If you plan to fly on Spirit at least a couple of times a year, then you may want to join its $9 Fare Club in order to get reduced fares and reduced fees. Your carry-on bag fee will be $20 each-way until November 5, if you pre-pay online at the time of booking or before check-in. If you pay during check-in, the fee is $25 each way. On November 6, those fees will rise to $25 at time of booking or before check-in and $30 during check-in. Checked bags are about $10 cheaper for members if you pay online. By the way, it costs $59.95 a year to be a member of the $9 Club and the cheapest fares we found were close to $20 one-way. Spirit does have a 2-month temporary membership to its Club, but if you read the small print, the discount airfares and the reduced baggage fees do not apply to your first trip! The only things you’ll get for free on Spirit are a boarding pass printed at home, with the cost of printing on you, a small carry-on bag if it fits under your seat and a seat assignment at the airport, but you’ll have no guarantee of sitting with your friends or family.
The next time you see that $19.80 airfare on Spirit, be sure to take a look at the optional fees and add them up before you book. You can find a list of fees here www.spirit.com/OptionalFees.aspx#. Spirit does offer some very nicely priced airfares, but remember its flyer beware when it comes to this fee-crazed airline.
Spirit has a plethora of other fees for pets, unaccompanied minors, award tickets, cancellation fees and much more. According to a statement on the airline’s website, “Spirit Airlines empowers customers to save money on air travel by offering ultra-low base fares with a range of optional services for a fee, allowing customers the freedom to choose only the extras they value.” Unfortunately, some of those fees are mandatory, and you don't have the right to refuse to pay them. So remember, it is flyer beware when it comes to this fee-crazed airline.
So the next time you book Spirit, and although they may have the lowest airfare, be sure to add up all these fees, to see if you really got the Bestfares at the end of the day!
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