Spirit Airlines has announced that fees for carry-on baggage on domestic and international flights will increase from $45.00 to as much as $100.00 each way, to be effective as of November 6, 2012.
Spirit Airlines first started charging a carry-on baggage fee of $45.00 back in August of 2010. This policy of charging fees for carry-on bags has either been convincingly profitable enough for Spirit Airlines to raise the fees, or not profitable enough that Spirit Airlines felt the need to raise the fees.
As when fees for carry-on luggage were first implemented, luggage stored under the seat in front of the passenger will reportedly still be complimentary and not assessed a fee.
Spirit Airlines — “the ultra low-cost airline for the Americas” — claims on their Internet web site that “We empower customers to save money on air travel by offering ultra low base fares with a range of optional services for a fee, allowing customers the freedom to choose only the extras they value.”
Yeah — right. Sure.
It is one thing to charge ancillary fees in order to drive down the cost of the actual flight to customers. After all, not everyone eats on a flight, so why should passengers pay for something they are not going to use, right? That would be simple logic.
It is another thing to charge fees where it becomes difficult or impossible to avoid paying them. In the case of Spirit Airlines, the only way one can travel at the true basic cost of airfare is to have no carry-on bag, or have only one carry-on bag which is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Do not do such things as check luggage, eat, or modify or cancel your flight — you will pay extra for all of that and more.
What is next for which Spirit Airlines will consider charging a fee? How about paying a fee for the privilege of paying for your flight? Would paying a fee every time you use an air sickness bag be enough to make you throw up? Perhaps you should pay extra for boarding passes.
Frankly, the so-called $9 Fare Club is a misnomer. It costs $59.95 for an annual membership per member just for the privilege of accessing those $9.00 airfares — and that does not include any ancillary fees added to the cost. However, membership in the $9 Fare Club lowers the fee for carry-on bags from $100.00 to $25.00 each way — even though that fee will increase from the current $20.00 for domestic and international flights effective as of November 6, 2012. Such a deal.
Wending your way around all of these fees — as well as when they apply and under what conditions — is enough to make your head spin. To me, the way Spirit Airlines handles how it charges fees is similar to that incredible bargain you find on the Internet — only to have that bargain negated by excessive shipping and so-called “handling” fees. When that $10.00 item costs only 99¢ plus $12.00 for shipping and “handling” — usually hidden and posted in small type — that to me starts to straddle that fine line of fraud. Does Spirit Airlines intentionally take advantage of uneducated customers who think they are getting a great deal, not taking into account the ancillary fees?
I have no issue with airlines wanting to charge ancillary fees to increase revenue and profit if customers are willing to pay the fees and there is a market for them. However, the customer needs to be better educated in order to realize that there is no way one can secure a $9.00 airfare on Spirit Airlines without paying ancillary fees, and that flying as a passenger on a low-cost airline where you are nickeled-and-dimed for a spartan flight experience may not in the end necessarily save a significant amount of money over being a passenger on a legacy airline which could offer a better flight experience.
Patronizing Spirit Airlines may not be a bad idea if you want to save money on short flights for short trips where you only need a small carry-on bag — just ensure that you have correctly performed your research and your math exhaustively and precisely before you embark on the Spirit Airlines experience.
As for me, you will not catch me as a passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight — with no apologies from me, Ben Baldanza.