Spirit Airlines Charges $10 For Buying Tickets Anywhere But Ticket Counter (Again)

Habitually awful carrier Spirit Airlines is bringing back its “passenger usage fee,” which charges passengers $4.90 each way for booking tickets online or over the phone. The only way to avoid the fee is by purchasing directly from a ticket counter at the airport. Convenient!

Spirit tried to impose this charge last summer as a “web convenience fee,” before getting hit with a $40,000 fine from the Department of Transportation for what it called an “unfair and deceptive trade practice and an unfair method of competition.” They’ve been allowed by the DOT to resurrect the fee because they’re now including it in the listing of fees.

Spirit says they’re imposing the fee as a way to offset distribution costs. Which sounds dubious, considering the costs of staffing a ticket counter and printing actual boarding passes versus operating a computer (or even a call center) and letting customers print their own boarding passes.

Next Airline Fee: Buying Tickets? [WSJ]
PREVIOUSLY: Spirit Airlines Drops $10 Fee For Ordering Tickets Online
Spirit Airlines Charges $10 Fee For Ordering Tickets Online
Thanks, Jason!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Rebecca Brown says:

    Maybe this is why I’ve never heard of them before.

    Won’t fly them, anyway.

  2. Valerie Flame says:

    Aren’t some Spirit fares online only? So any money you save by booking online you would just lose on the other end in fees?

    • bwcbwc says:

      @Valerie Flame: True. I’ve found that if you pay for their “business class” fares (which actually are a bargain compared with other airlines), they waive some of the fees, like seat selection and (at least last year) the “convenience fee” for ordering online.

  3. discordance says:

    It’s like the bastard offspring of Horatio Sans and Wayne Knight.

  4. jp7570 says:

    How is this “offsetting distribution costs”? If a customer does all the heavy lifting – research the flight times, make the online reservation, pay with a credit card electronically, and print out the boarding pass at home – just exactly what is Spirit “distributing”?

    Oh wait – they are distributing their debt to the buying public. Aren’t we lucky?

  5. Casimir Couvillion says:

    It works for concert tickets!

  6. Cody Connor says:

    Allegiant Air, a small airline that offers flights to few focus cities across the US (ie Vegas) is much worse. They charge $13.50 per customer to using to use any of their booking services (except the airport ticket counter). And they charge an additional $10 per segment per passenger for those booking via their call center.

    Their policy is below


    Convenience Fee: For the convenience of using any of Allegiant Air’s booking services (inclusive of call center) there is a fee of $13.50 per traveling customer. Purchases made at any of Allegiant Air’s Airport Ticket Offices will not incur a Convenience Fee of $13.50 per customer. All fares are subject to change until confirmed and purchased.

    Booking Fee: Customers that have purchased travel through the Allegiant Air call center will be charged an additional $10.00 per segment per passenger.

    • cmac says:

      @Cody Connor: But even with their crazy fees, their tickets are dirt cheap. I paid something like $88, with taxes and fees, for a round trip flight booked two days before departure.

      • Cody Connor says:


        I’d agree, you can get often get good deals, but what bothers me is the advertise a $59 flight and then charge you $38 in “fees”.

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Can they narrow it down further?

    The fee applies unless you purchase the tickets at the counter between 2:15am and 2:45am.

  8. rpm773 says:

    At one point, wasn’t their “Boston” location actually Hanscom AFB?


  9. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    @Casimir Couvillion:
    I was thinking the same thing. Also, damn this reply button issue still!

    Spirit Airlines – taking a page right out of the ol’ Ticketbastard playbook.

  10. Rebecca Brown says:

    @ Yoko Broke Up The Beatles:

    I’ve given up trying to reply to comments. Nothing works for me.

  11. mythago says:

    They also treat their employees about as well as you would expect. Would not fly them.

  12. Esquire99 says:

    It’s amazing how some companies are doing everything they can to push their customers to use their online services (Fees for paying over the phone, fees for talking to phone-based customer service), yet the some in the always-behind-the-times airline industry find a way to do it backwards. Further, at what point in time did it become acceptable to pass on costs of doing business as extra fees, rather than just rolling them into the price? $5 reservation fees to cover costs of ticketing, $300 “Document processing charges” at car dealers, etc.

  13. cuchanu says:

    Well they actually have pretty cheap fares sometimes. But they don’t fly out of Seattle so f- ’em.

    These days tickets are so cheap that you can use a better carrier if there is such a thing.

  14. Telekinesis123 says:

    Two little kids are running a lemonade stand and a customer comes up to buy, “Good day sir, we just made this fresh, real lemons you know, but before we can pour you a cup we have to charge you a lemonade usage fee”

    “Well isn’t that what I am already doing when I buy your lemonade?”

    “…Just pay up bucko”

  15. The_Red_Monkey says:

    Allegiant air does this. I saved like $40 bucks on my flight to Vegas by going to the airport in Monterey.

  16. DrGirlfriend says:

    “offsetting distribution costs” = “we’re making it up, we just want more of your money”

  17. golddog says:

    I didn’t realize Spirit was a subsidiary of Ticketmaster. Do they charge for parking too?

  18. ironchef says:

    I bet they will install pay toilets and floatation device rentals.

  19. XTC46 says:

    this seems backwards. While I understand the costs associated with keeping an online system in place, I have to assume that keeping a person at a counter is more expensive when compared to how many people/hour they help, which would lead me to assume that you should get charged at the counter, but no where else.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @xtc46: Well, they have to man the counter, anyway, to handle people checking in. The “convenience” is that you don’t to drive to the airport and pay $10 in parking to get your ticket.

  20. johnarlington says:

    My student loan company started charging to pay you bill online. I immediately stopped paying online and use the free online bill payment. It’s not anymore of a hassle for me and now they have to process the a physical check instead. I refuse to pay “convenience fees” for services that save them money.

    • johnarlington says:


      The free online bill payment through my bank that is.
      Read…. then post

    • Employees Must Wash Hands says:


      One of my three student loan servicers recently started doing that, too. They changed data processors and began charging a $1 fee to pay your bill, unless you paid it on either the 1st or 20th of the month.

      I buckled down for a few months and paid off a $5K loan, all because what works out to $12 a year in fees infuriated me.

    • Blueskylaw says:


      Congratulations on deciding to pay again by physical check.
      You have just earned an A+ in home economics.

      The day that I have to start paying to pay my bill online is the day that paper checks start flowing again and I will buy stock in check printing companies and make a killing.

    • theblackdog says:

      @johnarlington: I pay two student loans from the same company (New Mexico Student Loans), one is minimum $65 a month, the other is minimum $35 a month, but I just have to submit one payment to cover both of them. If I do it through the website they will distribute the money correctly, but I have to pay a $3 fee.

      I tried using my bank’s bill pay a few months ago because they have a relationship with NMSL, but NMSL totally borked the payment. They applied $45 to the bigger loan, and $25 to the smaller loan. That’s right, they underpaid one of my loans. Luckily I had checked NMSL online to make sure the payment went through correctly so I ended up using their website to fix the underpayment…idiots. I should repeat this again so when they screw up I can call and yell at them.

  21. Blueskylaw says:

    Spirit charges you if you book online but not at place of business.
    Credit card companies charge you if you pay over the phone but not online.

    Future “convenience” charges:
    Paying by check, phone, cash, online, auto bill pay, in person etc.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Blueskylaw: That’s what RyanAir does, if you check in online, it’s 5 euros, if you check in at the airport or by calling them, $10 euros.

  22. Jubilance22 says:

    I would rather walk to my destination than fly Spirit Airlines. I’d spit in the CEO’s face if I could.

    Yes, I hate Spirit Airlines, can you tell?

  23. alstein says:

    The last semester I was in uni, paying online was the only way to not pay a “convenience fee” of 2%.

    They even charged you that for paying by check.

    Was ridiculous.

  24. Jfielder says:

    I just realized something… When you buy a Spirit ticket online, I’m pretty sure you get a 5 dollar “discount” per flight for buying online. So if you were actually going to go buy from the ticket counter, you wouldn’t be saving anything at all. Ha, pretty soon the only way you’ll be able to buy Spirit tickets is through Ticketmaster.

  25. xamarshahx says:

    no one books at the counter cause their deals are only available for moments before being sold out. so this is kind of deceptive since you can not avoid it.

  26. pb5000 says:

    I’ve only flown spirit once, and all in all it was an excellent experience for me.

    We knew the flight that we wanted to buy, we kept an eye on the prices for a few weeks, bought the tickets when they were as low as we’d seen them go, I kept checking to see if they’d go any lower and they didn’t.

    The only hitch was that two weeks prior to the flight they canceled our 9am flight and moved us to the 7am one. That was clearly communicated to us and sure it sucked getting up a little earlier, but no problems with it once we were there. We had a lap child with us and a stroller to check at the gate, everyone was very helpful on and off the plane. Our flight was on time, our attendants were professional and pleasant, and we had no problems at all.

  27. JoshReflek says:

    “…to offset the bla bla bla”

    i dont care why there are new fees, ever.

    the existance of them is enough of a frustration without some bullshit justification.