Spirit Airlines Charges $10 Fee For Ordering Tickets Online

One of the major points of having your customers order online is supposed to be that it makes it a more efficient and convenient process for everyone. Not so at Spirit Airlines, which is now charging $10 roundtrip extra fee if you order your tickets online. They’re calling this the “web convenience fee.”

As Upgrade: Travel Better and Elliot.org point out, it’s just another way to try to recoup costs without having to increase the “landing price,” the upfront price shoppers see when they first encounter a merchant’s offer.

There are two ways around the fee. You can either purchase your Spirit airlines tickets at the airport, or you can buy them on Orbitz. There’s no “web convenience fee” for Spirit Airline tickets bought on Orbitz, and Orbitz’s fee is less than Spirit’s. Let’s just hope the other obsessively copycat airlines don’t pick this one up too.

Below, Spirit Airlines verbiage for the fee.

Convenience Fee of $5.00 per traveling customer per one way travel applies to all reservations with the exception of those bookings created directly at Spirit Airlines’ airport locations. All fares are subject to change until confirmed and purchased.

Money talks, B.S. flies [Upgrade: Travel Better]
Watch out — Spirit is socking passengers with surprise fees! [Elliot.org]

(Photo: Cubbie_n_Vegas)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Gargoyle_A2 says:

    Spirit and their funny acronyms, like their MILF sale. They should change this to the “Web Transaction Fee” so it has an appropriate acronym, too.

  2. timmus says:

    I thought a convenient customer experience was something that a company would want to celebrate rather than penalize. Sorry, Spirit, we don’t buy it. The convenience fee is for YOUR convenience.

  3. Puck says:

    Is this a subcompany of Ticketmaster?

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    @Gargoyle_A2: Inspired! You deserve a star. Winning slam of the day!

  5. Angryrider says:

    So there’s going to be a fee however we order our tickets?
    To avoid it, do we have to mind control corporate to give us tickets for free?

  6. shockwaver says:

    Is there also a $25 fee for booking over the phone?

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    @Puck: No, a subsidiary of Ticketwhore would have a $10.00 per ticket convenience fee AND a $25.00 per order processing fee. And the tickets would not be refundable or exchangable, even if Ticketwhore didn’t deliver the tickets, the flight was cancelled, the airline ceased operations, or the world ended.

    And of course you would not be able to purchase the tickets anywhere else, including at the airport, from the airline or online. At the airport, the agent would direct you to a white courtesy phone that would put you in contact with Ticketwhore.

    (Courtesy phone, convenience fee, we are so POLITELY getting screwed)

  8. qwickone says:

    @Gargoyle_A2: You just made my day! Hilarious!

  9. SharkD says:

    Well, even more ridiculous are bereavement fares — I recently had the sad task of traveling from RDU to CMH with zero notice. American offers the only direct flight (1 hr), the next best option being Southwest’s single connection (3-4hr) flights through BWI, which would have meant 6-7 hours, door-to-door.

    I called American, who quoted $344, including taxes and booking fees (verus $589 for the full fare), after I gave them the hospice/funeral information… then they add that there’s an additional $20 fee for booking with an operator, or $30 for booking at the ticket counter — but there’s no option to book bereavement fares online or via an automated system, so why not just include the fee in the fare quote?

    Furthering the frustration, the automated answering system mis-heard the ‘E’ in my frequent flyer number as a ‘D’ — meaning the ticketing agent nearly issued the tickets in the name of a total stranger, after processing the charge to my card — she didn’t once ask or verify my name until after I gave her all my payment information and she asked my relationship to some guy named Paravecchio — it took nearly 30 minutes on hold to get the name on my ticket corrected, making an already tight schedule even tighter.

  10. hellinmyeyes says:

    @Gargoyle_A2:

    LOL hilarious. I was just thinking along those lines.

  11. Puck says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    Oh, my bad.

  12. magic8ball says:

    I thought it was to the airlines’ advantage to have seats booked in advance … isn’t that why booking very close to your travel date is more expensive? It makes no sense to me that Spirit would penalize people for not waiting until they get to the airport to try to buy their tickets. … But of course, no one who actually needs to fly on a particular date is going to buy their tickets at the airport, which I guess makes this a “we’re screwing you because we can and you will bend over and like it” fee.

  13. Canino says:

    Business innovation at its best. Create a way for customers to buy your product without any human customer service interaction…thus minimizing your costs without passing the savings on to the customer…and then a while later tack an extra fee on top as well for the “convenience”.

    Do I get a “convenience discount” if I’m an experienced traveller who needs no assistance with check-in, security, seating, bag handling, etc.? Maybe I’ll start sending out “convenient customer bills” to companies I buy things from when I need no help with a transaction.

  14. PacmanJr_00 says:

    Allegiant Air does the EXACT same thing.

    Convenience Fee – For the convenience of using any of Allegiant Air’s booking services (inclusive of Call Center) there is a fee of $11.50 per traveling passenger. Purchases made at any of Allegiant Air’s Airport Ticket Offices will NOT incur a Convenience Fee of $11.50 per passenger. All fares are subject to change until purchased and confirmed.
    [www.allegiantair.com]

  15. snoop-blog says:

    @Gargoyle_A2: Win!

  16. Mr. Guy says:

    i don’t see what the fuss is about. they’re 100% right that it’s convenient for them to charge you $10 to book on their website. and the money conveniently adds to their bottom line. so it’s a web convenience fee. brilliant.

  17. flyingphotog says:

    They’re digging their own grave.

  18. whee, nearly all “convenience” fees have no inconvenient alternative. why even call it that when there’s usually no recourse (e.g. TicketMaster)?

    let’s just agree to call it “express sodomy with a dry corncob fee” and be done with it.

  19. It’s just like Fandango! How could it not be cheaper for the theaters to have you do the work of ordering your ticket and printing it yourself with your own paper, than for the theater to pay for labor, electricity, and paper to do it for you? Yet Fandango costs extra.

    Damned if I’ll ever pay those fandango bloodsuckers.

  20. windycity says:

    Rather like when the banks started charging convenience fees to use the ATM’s.

    Wonder when the airlines are going to start tacking on additional fees for using a site other than that of the airline with whom you are booking your ticket.

    “So, that’ll be a $5 web convenience fee and a $25 out-of-network fee for booking your flight on Travelocity.”

  21. Jubilance22 says:

    Spirit is a horrible airline anyway, this is just another reason to not fly them.

  22. bobpence says:

    Well you can obstensibly avoid this fee by booking at the airport, and not just the day of your flight. I see they operate locally out of Reagan National, and that’s not too hard a stop on the Metro Blue or Yellow line. If everyone who takes those lines past Reagan made a point of buying their tickets in person, consuming airline staff time at the airport instead of the precious time of some computer server in Idaho, it might just make a point.

  23. SuffolkHouse says:

    Is this any different than what happened with ATMs?

    If my memory serves, ATMs were introduced and operated for some time without any fees. The goal was the require less staff in the bank itself.

    Now, you can be charged as much as $5.50 to remove $20.00 from an ATM. And, this is an actual convenience fee as I won’t touch an ATM unless I absolutely have to.

    Now people are being charged for the convenience of using the automated service with an airline. I’ll bet this becomes pretty standard. Just plan on American and United to use this idea, but with a spin – they’ll double it!

  24. mariospants says:

    I see where this is going: next they’ll charge $30 per round-trip ticket purchased at the airport to defray “additional costs associated with in-person customer service”.

    This week’s Maclean’s cover article titled “Why air travel is hell”:

    [www.macleans.ca]

  25. basket548 says:

    @West Coast Secessionist:

    Fandango is different – it can allow you to buy tickets ahead of time and thereby not have to wait an hour at the theater to get popular tickets.

    I guess Spirit is trying to do the same thing, except NOBODY buys airline tickets at the airport.

  26. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Spirit has to be one of the worst companies I have ever dealt with. How they didn’t win the Golden Poo is beyond me.

    Anyway, my sufficiently pissed off red-head wife was able to get our entire trip refunded after we realized their nickel-and-dime approach to ticket-buying, albeit with some strong words and run-around to finally get someone who know what they were doing.

  27. crbullseye says:

    Sounds just like Allegiant! They have charged 11.50 for online booking for over a year now. Also charge anywhere from 11 to 13 for seat selection. Now they have a baggage fee of 15 dollars each way. Have to wonder where it will ever end!!

  28. humphrmi says:

    I wish I could find the quote now, but AA CEO Gerald Arpey recently said that these hidden fees are a great way to increase revenue, since nobody wants to pay higher fares. Implicit in his statement was that people are willing to pay fees.

    Here’s where it’s going to bite them though.

    If you simply charged what it cost you to fly the planes, plus a fair profit, that’s what you’d get. Surely fewer people would fly, and you’d have to cut capacity in order to balance supply and demand, but eventually you’d make what you spent plus some profit and would have a sustainable long-term business plan.

    Instead their long term business plan today relies on people who have less money now than they had yesterday spending their fewer remaining dollars on stuff that the airlines have now redefined as optional. That’s the trouble though – when people have less, they tighten their belts. They don’t buy the optional stuff. So the airlines grand plan still relies on an economic turnaround that is strong enough to make people not care enough that they will pay $40 for more legroom or $15 to take a bag or $10 to book a fare online.

    Ironically, if we were in that sort of economy today, the airline business would be booming and none of this would be necessary.

    I predict that as airlines start adding fees, people will simply not pay them. They’ll figure out how to get around them. Or, they’ll just settle for less, and be grumpy about it. And the airlines won’t make any more money than they made before the fees.

  29. kepler11 says:

    I generally am sympathetic to the problems that airlines face in raising ticket prices, and the new things they have had to try to stay solvent. But this one is ridiculous. They are doing the opposite of what airlines seek to do to lower costs, in that most companies would steer people away from buying tickets at their expensive-airport-staffed locations. Perhaps someone could explain why Orbitz is exempt from the fee.

    And I believe the reason the tables have turned now is that people want to make their purchase online, so what people *want* is something they will pay for. And this airline wants to tap that revenue, stupid as it may be.

    I think a very good analogy is EZpass on the highway. For most of its existence, EZpass provided a discount compared to normal tolls, so that people would be encouraged to use it and cut down the number of staff needed at toll plazas. Now, they could flip it around and charge extra for people to use EZpass, because people no longer want to wait in long lines for those person-staffed toll lanes with everyone else who doesn’t have EZpass.

    How it comes full circle…

  30. FLConsumer says:

    Dear Spirit Airlines:

    I’ve never flown your airline before, but adding rubbish fees such as this web “convenience” fee gives me even fewer reasons to even consider Spirit.

  31. maestrosteve says:

    The Department of Motor Vehicles in NJ has a website where you can renew your registration with a credit card. I’ve used it for years. This year, they added a convenience fee (I think it is $5). I have 4 cars (would cost me $20 a year) and they will not get anymore web registrations from me. It’s just as easy for me to use a stamp and mail the renewal in. It is certainly convenient for me to renew online, but not $20 worth when all it takes is a minute to write out a check and put a stamp on an envelope,

  32. yasth says:

    @windycity: Ummm the airlines regularly make sure their own site has the lowest fares over say orbitz, or travelocity.

    To an extent this makes some sense as they do have to pay money to the networks for all this booking to happen, but really it just makes it a horrid pain to priceshop. Thank god for kayak.com .

  33. Fallom says:

    I should charge them a $40,000/year convenience fee for saving them the cost of paying an employee to do the same job.

  34. SacraBos says:

    The push to go to the web to reduce the need for humans is a convenience to THEM, not just to me.

    I think I should charge them $20 for the “tolerance customer” fee.

  35. dragonvpm says:

    @SuffolkHouse: I don’t like ATM fees, but to be fair they’re generally levied by one or both banks for using someone else’s ATM, and I doubt we were ever able to go to a bank to withdraw money from our account at a different bank at no charge.

    This thing with Spirit though is just stupid though. I think I’m going to place them in my personal “places to not do business with” file and avoid dealing with them for MY convenience (and the continued health of my bank account).

  36. rachaeljean says:

    Allegiant Air does this as well, as I discovered last night when I booked our trip to Vegas. Sadly, even after all their stupid fees, they were still the cheapest game in town. Sigh.

    Allegiant also charges a “Seat Selection Fee”… no matter what. Even if you take the random seats it gives you, it’s still $10 per seat per leg of flight per person. Lame.

    And the airlines wonder why everyone hates them and they’re going out of business.

  37. bwcbwc says:

    @Puck: No, of Carnival Cruise Lines.

  38. shufflemoomin says:

    Wait a minute, so over here in the UK, our LCC charge people to check in at the airport and let them check in online for free, and over there, people can buy tickets at the airport for free, but pay to book on line? Interesting. Since they have to pay someone to process the ticket for you at the airport and it’s done automatically online, isn’t this charge a little backwards?

  39. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    I’m really just waiting for them to add a “Live At-Counter Fee” so that they can tack on the fee whether you buy online or at the airport.

  40. atavisticat says:

    This is even more of a scam since Spirit is once of the worst airlines flying. After two terrible experiences with these disorganized liars, I am willing to pay higher FARES to fly with real airlines. I think these are the last cries of a desperate business, which has been cutting corners for far too long.

  41. ShyamasriFantaztical says:

    The fee is no longer there.

  42. jmackowi says:

    Spirit is horrible. I flew them once. Never again. They should just charge a little extra and call it a “high gas cost” surcharge instead of hiding behind other fees.