Spirit Airlines Increases Fees For First Checked Bag

Spirit Air will raise its fees for checking one bag, according to an email from the airline. On June 20th, Spirit will increase the fee for checking one bag from $10 to $15 if the checked bag is declared online, and from $20 to $25 if it is declared at check in. And Spirit’s belief that any publicity is good publicity continues.

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  1. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Yet another airline I will not fly.

    Keep nickle-diming people and you will go away eventually.

  2. ffmariners says:

    Keep thinking that their fares don’t need to increase and they will all go away because it won’t be profitable to fly anymore

  3. ffmariners says:

    Haha… I said anymore… well… you get the idea.

  4. meneye says:

    @TheSpatulaOfLove: perhaps, however their prices are still likely to beat the competitor’s, even with the extra charge.

  5. Jon Mason says:

    I’m all in favor of the free market with few regulations, however one regulation I would love to see, and this doesnt just apply to airlines, and wouldn’t really apply in this case anyway, is a “Transparent Pricing” act – that states that any COMPULSORY fees etc. must be included in any advertised or listed price. It would stop TicketMaster advertising a ticket for $20 but then saying the booking fee is $10. I dont care how you try and hide the cost, if the only way I can buy a ticket is with the booking fee then the price is $30, not $20.

    Same thing would apply to cars (compulsory destination fees, dealership fees etc.), airline tickets (fuel surcharge – if your cost of doing business goes up, increase your prices don’t create a compulsory hidden fee, it’s just dishonest and continues to hide the true cost of a ticket so much that sometimes over 50% of the cost of a ticket is in ‘fees’).

  6. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    I don’t understand why the price cannot reflect the increases in cost of operation. It’s bullshit to shop fare prices only to have to deal with all the extra fees you get whacked with at check in. It feels sleazy and cheap when they do that – just build the extra $20 into the fare and call it a day. I don’t care what the breakdown is, especially if everyone else is raising their fares to maintain profitability.

    As if the airline pricing scam – erm scheme wasn’t confusing enough – just give me a guaranteed out the door price!

  7. rhmmvi says:

    I almost empathize with the airlines in terms of their spiraling costs–but nickel and diming the passengers is not the way to go. Part of the problem for me as a frequent business traveler (unfortunately my trips are a week in length generally and always business professional so a carry on doesn’t cut it) is that it makes for extra work for me to pay a stupid $15 fee. It means another bit of time at the airport to figure out if I have to pay the fee (whatever it may be), getting out the corporate card, paying the fee, signing the credit card slip, and then keeping the receipt so I can add it as another line in my expense report. Just freakin’ charge me twenty more bucks when I book the ticket so I can deal with it once. I understand the second bag thing because you can get a free rider problem of people overpacking their crap, but one bag is reasonable. They have to know how many people check at least one bag and pass along an average cost. Or charge everybody and give extra FF miles to people who don’t check a bag.

  8. Uriel says:

    That is the last straw. I’m gonna go live up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, get a well dug into the floor of my basement, and wear a bear-skin. See ya when Jesus gets here.

  9. jamesdenver says:

    @Uriel:

    Among that line I wonder what # the post “This is why I’ll never fly.” will come in at.

    That’s great if you you have all the time in the world to drive around the U.S/Canada and visit your grandkids – but some of us actually like traveling, seeing new cities and countries – and need to deal with/tolerate air travel to maintain our absorbtion of new cultures.

  10. They got the right idea with their acronyms.

  11. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Maybe southwest will start expanding to take advantage of every other airline pissing their customers off.

  12. ZukeZuke says:

    The increase would be a bargain if you actually got a MILF in the deal!

  13. Avaren says:

    Transparency is the enemy of profit.

    Business rule #1.

  14. RChris173 says:

    MILF

  15. lordargent says:

    It’s funny, I just finished watching a comedy act recorded on my tivo earlier today where the comic was dissing Spirit airlines.

    That was the first time I had ever heard of that airline. Then I come here and there’s an article about it.

    /she mentioned paying for checked bags. And having to pay for drinks (including water) on the plane.

  16. legwork says:

    Everyone is used to how shipping costs work. I’d prefer they stop screwing around and just charge us by cost. Measure weight, displacement, add seating options, and bingo. No more surprises.

  17. Lambasted says:

    Never heard of them. And now that I find out they are charging for checked luggage, I still won’t be flying with them.

  18. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    I paid enough attention in class while earning my economics degree to understand, at least at a basic level, how free markets work, I really did, so humor me the following two curiosities:

    First, given the frequent government subsidies, it’s clear the rules of the free market don’t apply to airlines. That’s mistake number one. Why not simply allow the airlines to shoot themselves in the foot and fold, thereby reducing barriers to entry and allowing smarter, more creative folks to pick up the pieces and revive this disgusting industry?

    Second, barring keep-flying-at-all-costs welfare checks from the government, why is it that someone hasn’t already come in and shaken this industry up? If investors like Ichan can shake Yahoo up by invoking some clause in the company’s articles of incorporation, surely something like this is also possible at this level.

    I guess what I mean to say is that the airline industry as a whole needs the proverbial Steve Jobs–or his female equivalent. Martha Stewart? I kid, I kid. More like Oprah. (That said, it need not be a sole individual, either.)

    If all the major airlines are masturbating to the same sticky-paged vintage business model anyway, there is no reason they can’t all follow the lead of the kind of individual or team who can convert them from the fecal matter they currently are to an efficient, approachable, customer-oriented industry.

    Though I do not claim to have intimate knowledge of the workings of this industry, I have been a customer of it all my life and have some idea as to what I would like to see changed from this perspective. A few items as example:

    1. Simplified pricing across the board. Advertised prices will include all surcharges, fees and taxes (including those for checked bags) and will never, ever change based on booking date, or whether you speak to a human. Online booking sites should only display these prices as well.

    2. No fees for modifying, canceling or transferring your ticket up until a reasonable cutoff date. Following the cutoff period (say, 72 hours), either there should be a charge/refund for any difference in costs, or the airlines should simply grant a penalty-free credit for later use (as opposed to a full refund prior to the cutoff date).

    3. A shift to a greener, more efficient fleet, reliant on alternative energy sources. If anything, government subsidies should be used for this and this alone. This is a major issue for me. I would much prefer to see airlines reroute the budget dollars reserved for, say, installing televisions and internet service, to aiding this cause. Why? Because doing the former decreases costs to the consumer and doing the latter increases costs. Besides, people have more than enough to distract them for the the duration of a flight (especially domestic) these days without the airlines burning dollars for no reason.

    4. Focus on the customer. I was born in 1982, and have basically been flying since then, so I’m barely old enough to remember when doing so was, like, the big to-do. Regardless of what class you were in, you were a big deal to each and every airline. When being escorted by the flight attendants when flying solo (for no additional fee) under age, I felt like a little prince. Now, however, much like with the rest of the business world, humans are simply cargo, commodities. It’s sad.

    These are just a few off-hand ideas. I’m sure there are other things I can thing of as well, just like this guy: [www.usatoday.com]

    I hesitate, though, because I wonder what the ultimate point is…

  19. n301dp says:

    I have a problem with 99% of the other airlines doing this EXCEPT for Spirit. They “unbundled” all the perks at once while also reducing their fares 40% to reflect that action. The other airlines out there are adding these fees because of piss-poor management and an incredible lack of foresight.

  20. Snarkysnake says:

    @Gilbert:

    I’ll take a stab at answering a few of your points:

    1) Because they make more money off of each customer this way. (They think). Air travel is funny- growing dramatically since deregulation,ever higher demand, and …Unable to turn a consistent profit.Too much legacy carrier capacity means that a lot of seats generate a loss after expenses.Because there is so much extra capacity,carriers resort to fees and gimmicks in their prices to obscure the true cost of a ticket up until the moment that money changes hands.

    2)Because they make more money on most customers this way. We want convenience. We want flexibility. These are two attributes not usually associated with airtravel.All of the change fees and junk fees that are tacked onto out ticket are an important source of revenue for the airlines.At one time,when there was a fair amount of labor involved in making changes to a ticket,you could argue that it cost a lot more to make those changes. Everything is computerized and tracked today,so it should be less expensive (though still not cost-free). Once they got those fees in place,no going back.

    3)Green? An airplane ? Are you kidding ?

    4)Before deregulation (1978) all airline essentially were part of a cartel.They charged a high enough price on every route that the dumbest,laziest carrier made money. Calling an airline to get a fare quote was interesting: They all charged within a couple of bucks of one another,so you were essentially shopping service.Service- Another phrase not usually associated with airlines(today). With thinner (or non existent) profit margins on most routes today,service is cut to the absolute minimum to keep the planes in the air.

    FWIW- Carl Icahn DID try his liver spotted hand at running an airline- TWA. Ran the damn thing right into the ground.They held on for a few years after he left,but he destroyed the relationship that their employees had with the company and their customers,so…You know the story.The only comparable individual that I can think of is Steve Branson of Virgin fame. He is trying to make a go of an operation here in the states ,but I haven’t heard much lately about success,failure or otherwise of Virgin Airways.

    All in all, an industry that will make you a millionaire quick- If you start with a billion…

  21. cubejockey says:

    The oil markets are responsible for silly-ass issues like charging passengers for luggage.

    Sooner or later oil prices are going to come crashing down. Saudi Arabia has increased production and other oil producing nations will follow suit. China and India will get to the point of not spending 150-200 dollars for a barrel of oil.

    This is a bubble waiting to burst. Like dot-coms and real-estate.

  22. Kevin Cotter says:

    @cubejockey:

    China is buying and stockpiling oil at any price they can get, and will be doing so for the rest of the summer. Their reason is they do not want to be embarrassed under any circumstances during the Olympics, running out of fuel would look really bad.

    @masonreloaded:

    I gotta second a “Transparent Pricing Act” on hotels, airlines, and rental cars!

  23. Jubilance22 says:

    I hate Spirit Airlines with a passion. They sucked me in last year with a cheap fare, and then displayed a complete lack of customer service or working computer equipment. My trip ended with my return flight home being cancelled due to a glitch and no one informing me, then being ignored by every agent for 15 minutes, and then finally them flinging a hand-written boarding pass at me and forcing me to run through Hartsfield-Jackson airport at top speed to make the flight. Never again.

  24. mtarget says:

    We flew Spirit in May and each checked bag was $20 at that time, so this isn’t a new thing. Don’t look for free snacks either. They have a menu for snacks and drinks. No cash, credit or debit only. Just a heads up.

  25. battra92 says:

    @masonreloaded: It happens everywhere. When I bought glasses there was a “by the way, your prescription costs $20 more” at which point after agreeing they started trying to sell me every option on the glasses possible.

    So, I believe in customer transparency but everyone needs to remember salesmen are commission based worms usually.

  26. felixgolden says:

    Just flew Spirit a few days ago. Was able to get a cheap fare for a one day roundtrip. Outgoing flight was dirty and the seats were so close together that I had to sit sideways in the seat. Fortunately the seat next to me was empty.

    Returning flight was a newer plane with more room, but flight boarding was delayed at least an hour “due to weather”. I had internet access the whole time. There was no weather issues anywhere on the routes. Once we did board, we sat on the tarmac so they could say the plane left the gate.

  27. kepler11 says:

    the reason airlines can’t put all the fees into their bottom line price is that people (yes, Consumerist readers too) are so tuned to an apparent bargain that they will lose if they do that when it comes to the search engine for fares. Those who have no loyalty to any airline, and switch carriers as soon as one beats the other by a dollar — that, and the number of airlines we have in this country, is why these companies are all in trouble.

    Secondly, I for one don’t mind the fees, because it makes people pay for what they use, and saves me from having to pay for things I don’t use. If you enjoy paying for other people’s consumption, go right ahead.

  28. Jesse says:

    @Snarkysnake:

    Minor correction: It’s Richard Branson, not Steve.

  29. dunnowhat says:

    I just flew Spirit, and since my hometown is Fort Lauderdale, it used to be the best (read: cheapest) option. Now, their airfares are higher and they charge for everything. In the past I haven’t minded, but on my most recent journey, I discovered they now charge to choose your seat assignment- even if you were to pick the middle seat. The cost ranges from $5-$15. Add this to the cost of checking even one bag and suddenly Spirit’s low airfare turns into the same price as every other airline.

  30. Geekybiker says:

    @kepler11:
    I would agree with paying for consumption if there were assigned bins on the plane. You had your alloted space and that was that. Unfortunately there isn’t enough space and you’re just giving incentive for people to abuse the shared space. I hope you like a 6hr flight with your roll aboard under the seat in front of you. These policies will cause ALOT more of that.

  31. just flew with them-they now charge $3 for soda/water, $2 for coffee/tea, $5 for beer/shooters (however, they offer a $15/4 beer special). Credit card/debit only

    no complimentary water either

  32. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    @Snarkysnake: You make some great points here, though I think the desire to make more money, in particular, is a given. What I’m trying to get at here, as I think someone alluded to earlier, is the sheer lack of foresight these airlines have. I truly, deeply believe that in the case of the airlines, less is more.

    I thought about the irony of using Ichan as an example. You obviously got that I wasn’t suggesting HE run the airlines–haha! Rather, it’s the power he’s exercising over Yahoo’s board that I want to emphasize.

    In that vein, I’ve been watching Branson very closely, especially with regard to his space endeavors. While I do think he’s at the forefront, there are two issues. First, in his case, less is certainly not more. It’s just the opposite–but if he succeeds at returning air travel to the rich only while at the same time making it awesome again, I guess he’s done his job. (I’m nowhere near rich, mind you, so this counts me out; but much like automotive technology, improvements at the top end often have a trickle down effect to what I hesitate to refer to, however humorously, as the proletariat.)

    Second, while he certainly has the flair and charisma, I worry that he’s just that. At this point I’m waiting for the world-changing idea…

    And with respect to your last point, that’s another aspect of what I would like to see. Let the airlines keel over and die so that someone who is brilliant but necessarily a billionaire can take a crack at fixing things. As we all know, barriers to entry obliterate true competition.

    You, sir or madam, are definitely worth a follow.

    Thanks.

  33. Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

    @Snarkysnake: I should also mention that I absolutely, positively, emphatically buy into the notion of the airline industry transitioning to a much greener fleet.

    If my whimsically Utopian hogwash isn’t convincing enough, consider then the shrinking bottom line given rising fuel costs; at some point there will simply be no choice.

  34. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @Gilbert:

    Re: Government giving away money: Believe it or not, aside from 9/11, airlines don’t get any money from the government. The only rare example is when an undeserved city needs service or wants to recruit an LCC with lowered feeds.

    By the way, Ichan actually had a swing at TWA…and..well…when’s the last time you saw a TWA bird up in the air?

    1. Last minute business travelers will pay more than a family traveling to Disney. If they charged everyone the same amount, most families coulnd’t afford to fly…throw in the trickle effect on the economy, and you’ll see why this is a bad idea.

    American Airlines tried Simplifares and it was a disaster. Yield management is an amazing art/science that finds the best balance.

    2. The problem is that this would result is quite a few seats that end up going empty. Southwest does this to an extent, but they also overbook a bit more to cover their tails. It tends to work ok for them since they fly many flights a day on most routes and keep things domestic.

    3. Unlike most forms of transportations, aircraft really can’t use anything else. They need an energy dense fuel that can easily be filled and carried…someone only fossil fuels can provide.Re: TVs/Internet….there’s a reason parents and many others will pay more for jetBlue vs. AirTran, for example. Product differentiation is the key in an industry that’s become so comoditized. The airline I work for is working on getting internet rolled out fleet wide soon. That is a feature many would give their firstborn up for…makes a transcon flight MUCH more productive!

    As far as a more efficient fleet goes…it would be just as damaging to the environment to throw away perfectly good aircraft to replace them with brand new ones that burn a bit less fuel. It takes quite a few resources to build a plane…. this is a reason higher fuel costs do a good job of regulating consumption: If they get high enough, it will then be more economical for an airline like Northwest to replace their paid-off DC-9′s with more efficient planes such as the Embraer 190s (which they are now phasing in)

    4. If you’d like all that, feel free to fly first class. Adjusted for inflation, first class now is cheaper than coach in 1982. In fact, coach prices, IGNORING inflation, are cheaper now than they were back then. I can’t name many things that have fallen in price over the past 26 years…Greyhound hasn’t, neither has Amtrak or driving.
    @n301dp:

    Bingo! $9 to South America…I almost feel bad NOT checking in luggage and depriving them of revenue! They’re an Ultra Low Cost Carrier…things like this are expected, and they are VERY transparent about it. When someone like AA does it…completely different story!

    @Gilbert:

    I work for an airline that was spearheaded by Branson…he’s certainly more PR than an idea person. He used to plaster “4 engines 4 longhaul” on his 747s…now he is interested in 777s and 787s. He was talking about dragging aircraft out to the runway with a push back tractor, but he didn’t take into account the congestion it would cause, not to mention severe damage to the nosegear.

    For the record, he has NEVER set out to return air travel to the rich…he’s trying to make space travel affordable. That’s the mantra of all the Virgin group carriers…low fares, high value.