Spirit Airlines Wants To Charge You For Talking To A Human

Yesterday, we wrote about how the CEO of Spirit Airlines thinks he’s doing consumers a favor by charging for carry-on bags. Now, Big Ben Baldanza is saying that he wants to start charging passengers for the right to talk to a real human being at the airport.

The discount carrier, like most other airlines, already charges customers a fee to book tickets over the phone, but Baldanza says his company is hoping to launch kiosks that will provide all the services an agent at the airport terminal currently provides. If that happens, you know what that means — You’re going to have to pay if you want to deal with a Spirit staffer.

Here it is, in Ben’s own words:

When talking to a human being becomes an option, rather than a necessity, then we’re willing to charge for it — as we do with the call center — but we’re not at that position in the airports today… It’s not that we don’t think it’s not a good idea at some point.

While Spirit’s fee-loving ways continue to draw comparisons to cheapy airline Ryanair, Baldanza poo-poos that airline’s much-maligned desire to charge customers for the use of on-board lavatories.

“We just don’t think of bathrooms as being an option thing,” he said. “When you have to go, you have to go.”

But apparently carrying a change of clothes in a small bag is an option?

Spirit Airlines’ Next Fee? Talking to a Human [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Ilovegnomes says:

    As if those kiosks never have errors or failures.. pssssst!

    • nybiker says:

      Right. They are always perfect.
      And what would one do at the kiosks? Weigh your bags? Your carryons? Print boarding passes? And if there’s a glich (of course, that’ll never happen), then what? Pay them to fix their own kiosk system? Yeah, that’ll work.

  2. Beeker26 says:

    What a douche.

  3. c!tizen says:

    “Now, Big Ben Baldanza is saying that he wants to start charging passengers for the right to talk to a real human being at the airport.”

    This includes non-airport personel as well. There will now be a $50.00 charge for speaking with family members (blood relatives only, spouses and in-laws will cost an additional $33.50 plus a $2.00 “no-good-reason” fee.) We have a sale on taking to strangers, only $5.99 for the first 2 minutes. Oh, and if the Spirit stewardess talks to you, this also justifies a $39.99 charge, plus a listening fee if you respond to them. You know what, we’ll just sign you up for a direct deposit of your paycheck and call it a day. Thanks for choosing Spirit!

    “We have Spirit, yes we do! and now we have your money too!”

  4. scoosdad says:

    I need to send Ben Baldanza a bill for reading that quote.

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

    Really, a seat isn’t a necessity either. You could just sit on the floor of the plane for the duration of your trip…unless you want to pay extra.

  6. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Can this pave the way for all ATMs to no longer have usage fees? I mean, if you don’t have to talk to a human, it should cost less, right? I’m confused. Using a machine for bank transactions costs a huge premium but doing the same thing at an airport would be free? Explain… please… my head… it’s gonna ‘splode!

    • nybiker says:

      Remember, bank ATMs used to NOT have fees. Ah, the good old days. I will leave it as an exercise for others to debate the reasons that they have them now.

      I for one see no problem to a fee on an ATM at a deli or burger joint. At those places it is a convenience and one should pay for it.

    • danmac says:

      I’m surprised you didn’t bring up the “convenience fee” online theatre and concert ticket sellers charge you to print out your tickets on your own paper. That’s the worst in my book…you mean it costs me less to use your ticket agent and receive the ticket printed on your paper stock? Makes me spittin’ mad.

  7. ili says:

    For any of you who send your young teens on planes by themselves, you know all too well that speaking to a human is always necessity and NOT an option. Its not an option because you can neither book nor check in a minor flying alone though a kiosk or online booking. I find this infuriating that anybody in this situation will have no choice not to pay once for booking on the phone, but twice to check their child in. These fees being added are beginning to make these ‘discount carriers’ not so discount.

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    “You are fined one credit for a violation of the Spirit Airlines verbal morality statue.”

  9. Eric1285 says:

    Fine by me. Another service I never use…pass the costs on to those who actually use the service and keep my airfares low please!

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Until you have to.

      • Eric1285 says:

        Fair enough, but I can’t remember the last time I had to speak with an agent at the check in desk or at the gate. The thing is, when you tack on all these fees it makes the price of a Spirit ticket about the same as any other carrier. Without them, Spirit is by far the cheapest and that’s really all that matters to me when flying.

        • will_o_wisp says:

          The last time I flew (a few months ago), on the return flight, the self check-in kiosk (not spirit) couldn’t find my reservation. Thankfully the boarding attendant could through her computer even though it took her a few minutes.

          I’m glad you have never had that happen but I doubt it is that rare. Would Spirit have then charged me for that?

  10. trumpethead says:

    I for one will be glad when Spirit Airlines goes the way of the Dodo bird and slips quietly into extinction.

  11. bendee says:

    “But apparently carrying a change of clothes in a small bag is an option?”

    Carryons that fit under the seat are free, so backpacks with a couple changes of clothes are still allowed.

    The above said in the interest of fairness, not that I would ever take a carrier as nickel & dimey as Spirit…

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “When talking to a human being becomes an option…”

    I stop utilizing your service.

  13. Matzoball says:

    I actually have no problem with this type of policy as long as the people that they do talk with have the ability to waive the fee if the computer can not actually handle the transaction. Which is generally the las tthing the company thinks about.

    • Eric1285 says:

      That, or if you’re forced to speak with a gate agent due to a cancellation or other problem that’s not your fault.

  14. cybrczch says:

    “Thank you for dining with us Mr. Baldanza, here’s your check.”
    “A hundred dollars??? The menu said the dinner was forty five dollars!”
    “Yes, the dinner itself is forty five dollars. Then there’s the twenty dollar in-house seating fee, the ten dollar placeware rental fee, the twenty dollar live entertainment fee…”

    • ThunderRoad says:

      Don’t forget the $50 “Not kicking Mr Baldanza in the balls” fee.

    • Southern says:

      Oh, I’m sure if restaurants could get away with it, they would certainly try — like the few that have started automatically adding on a 15% tip and you have to ASK to have it taken OFF.

      As long as people don’t complain too much, and continue to pay these “fees”, then they’ll continue tacking them on everything, until we get to the point that we can’t even go to the bathroom in our own homes without paying some sort of “convenience” fee.

  15. jrobie says:

    Is “Spirit Airlines” even a real thing, or is it just a Public Relations creation designed to make other airlines look better by comparison?

  16. Sian says:

    And they’re going to cut fares by an equivalent amount, RIGHT?

    • Eric1285 says:

      How do you cut fares from $2 (plus taxes) round trip? I’ve flown Spirit about a dozen times and my average roundtrip ticket price (including all taxes and fees) is about $50-60. I’ve been able to purchase roundtrip fares for $2 several times…I don’t think it gets much lower.

  17. t.mo says:

    I’ve flown both Spirit and RyanAir before, neither of which were by choice. Never will again.

    I suppose these airlines separate those who are “cheap” vs. those who are “frugal”.

  18. Telekinesis123 says:

    I’m Canadian and have never experienced this airline yet but I have to wonder…how does an airline like this stay in business, they seem absolutely abhorrent.

  19. Jons_Junk says:

    Hey Baldo, Just wait until McDonalds starts to charge you for ordering at the counter, instead of from the clown head outside.

  20. Minneapolis says:

    This Onion Article will be reality before we know it:

    “American Airlines Now Charging Fees To Non-Passengers”


  21. Big Mama Pain says:

    I’ve never flown them, but I was just listening to a radio program about this-they are the most profitable airline in the US. People can bitch and moan all they want, but they are obviously doing something right. Excuse me if I don’t want my tax dollars going to bail out an airline, especially an airline I’ll never fly. I think the a la carte system is excellent, and an interesting solution to balancing people wanting super cheap flights and making money.

    • Telekinesis123 says:

      But in the end with all the fees is it really cheaper? In the end it may instead be a price fixing scheme if everyone decides to do it then there will be no choice and just high prices which is the opposite of what you said could be a benefit.

  22. menty666 says:

    Remember, the airlines need to provide seatbelts, but they don’t have to provide them for free. Good luck!

  23. btrotta says:

    When Spirit first entered my market I was intrigued by their $9 fares. I knew they were for 4 seats a flight, but they were real and they made me look into the airline. The more I looked, the more disgusted I became. Baldo’s arrogance and disdain for the very people that pay his salary oozes out with every word he speaks. His attitude says “This is just the latest way we’re going to screw you. And you know what? You’re going to just sit there and take it because you don’t have any reasonable alternative for long distance travel.”

  24. svengali84 says:

    Southwest > Spirit.

  25. dg says:

    That’s great. And when the kiosk goes down and gets pummeled into oblivion a la OfficeSpace’s Fax Machine by customers who want to board the plane to escape the 6th circle of Hell known as an Airport, then they can pay the $15000 to replace it, and lose enough customers to make it worthwhile to have a few staffers at an airport for a year.

    Multiply a few times, add in maintenance costs, software licensing, utilities costs, certification by TSA, et. al to make sure “terrorists” can’t use it, fines from the DOT because the things are down or complaints are high, and you might as well have a surly bitch back at the counter…

  26. jp7570-2 says:

    American AIrlines does this too, but only in certain circumstances (like trying to use a “free” voucher).

    Face it, Spirit has become the US equivalent of Ryanair. The CEO is as bad as the guys selliung fake Rolexes on Times Square. No wait, with those guys at least you know you are getting a fake. Spirit is obviously so hard up for money they will probably include video poker opn their ticket machines.

    A joke of a company and an idiot of a CEO. Go to hell, Baldanza.

  27. Angry JD says:

    Worst airline ever.

  28. AllanG54 says:

    I think Spirit is just following Citibank’s lead and their “no talking to tellers” policy. Hey, if a “too big to fail” bank can do it, why not a crummy airline.

  29. LACubsFan says:

    Anyone remember National Airlines? What about PSA?

  30. pm2416 says:

    Sorry, folks, but change is hard. If Spirit has the flight I want at the time I want, and it costs $39 plus $25 for my bag, and $6 for food on board, that’s a better deal than the $149 that Dinosaur Legacy Airlines wants to charge me (and they will stick me for fees somewhere also).

    You are going to have to use your brain, and make some choices. Don’t worry, it might hurt a little at first, but like all muscles once you get past the initial soreness you will get stronger.

    Of course, you could always say “I liked things better the way they were.” That is almost always easier than thinking.