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.