- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- iHaveNet.com: Travel
By Ed Perkins
Actually, most of the public press I've seen has made Spirit's carry-on baggage charge seem worse than it really is ... but only a little worse. The airline doesn't plan to charge for all carry-on bags; just those that don't fit under the seat in front of you. Instead, the charge applies only to larger bags that must go into an overhead bin. Spirit says the fee will not apply to some personal items such as cameras, purses, tote bags, and such, but they, too, must be small enough to fit under a seat. And those maximum underseat dimensions are pretty tight: 16-by-14-by-12 inches.
Starting August 1, if you want to stow a bag overhead, the base charge when you buy in advance or at a check-in counter will be $30 on all flights, or $45 if you don't buy until you're at your departure gate (gate payment by credit card only, no cash). Members of the line's "$9
Spirit cites the usual reasons: travelers pay for only what they use, fewer carry-on bags will speed up the boarding process and prevent overuse of the overhead bins, and "improve the overall customer experience." Yeah.
Writers who picked up on this story when it broke also noted that, according to industry reports,
People looking at Spirit's new fee also ask the obvious question: Will other lines decide to do the same? So far, no other line has chimed in on the question, but as I frequently note, "In the airline business, nothing succeeds faster than a bad idea."
Although I think the carry-on fee is, in fact, a bad idea, it isn't the worst of Spirit's new ideas. What I find really annoying is the line's promotion of "Penny Plus" fares for members of its "$9
The release posts a table showing the "ticket" price for some sample flights as "1 cent," to which the airline adds its fees. That claim that the "ticket price" is actually one cent is a flat-out lie. The ticket price is really one cent plus the $12 to $54 phony fuel allocation plus a "passenger usage fee" of $8, hidden in the fine print, that also goes right into the line's pocket -- plus, of course, the usual government taxes and fees. To me, the claim that the "ticket price" is one cent totally violates DOT rules about honest airfare advertising. I would hope that DOT will take action on this one, but its sorry refusal to prohibit a similar deception by Allegiant indicates something less than full enthusiasm for honest fare advertising.
Even at the true price, a Spirit flight may sometimes be a good deal. But can you trust an airline that lies this much?
© Ed Perkins
Travel | Spirit Airlines Hits Two New Lows