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Apocalypse Now: Spirit Airlines to Charge Carryon Bag Fee

April 6, 2010 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News

spirit airlines carryon bag fee

Well, I predicted this was coming – and sadly, I was right.

Spirit Airlines will now charge its passengers a fee to bring a carryon bag aboard its planes, and here’s how it breaks down:

Spirit Carryon Bag Fees

(one-way fees – for travel beginning Aug. 1) 

  • $9 Fare Club Members* -$20
  • Online Check-in Customers – $30
  • Checking Bag at Gate – $45

*Note: the $9 Fare Club costs $39.99 to join

You are still allowed to bring a single “personal item” on board the plane for free, such as a purse or laptop, but it must fit beneath your seat. Oh, and yes, a child’s car seat is still free – provided you’ve purchased a ticket for that child.

Sort of makes the other carriers’ baggage policies look downright generous, huh? See our Bag Fee Chart to compare.

But now I have a question:

Who’s next?

21 Responses to “Apocalypse Now: Spirit Airlines to Charge Carryon Bag Fee”

  1. d j says:

    They all stink.I can”t wait till they all fail and we start over with new airlines.This is another airline I will not ever fly again….

  2. Beverly Rosenstein says:

    I am appalled by this! They don’t even give good discounts to charge these fares!! I hope they will fold faster than anyone. What do you they think people do, travel just for fun. You know that a fee is one thing, going over the top is another.
    Never again on Spirit!

  3. Rick Seaney says:


    I’ll put you down in the “opposed” column.


  4. CaveatEmpty says:

    Coming soon: shuttle-bus service from the FedEx parking lot.


  5. Rick Seaney says:


    I’m not sure anything would surprise me anymore.

    Thanks for writing,

  6. Rick Seaney says:


    So you have a list, do you? Why not share it?


  7. Sharon T. Farrell says:

    well…your chart is wrong…it says Spirit has free carry on bags….

  8. Rick Seaney says:


    The correction was made, but there is a temporary tech issue – while many do see the correct version in their browsers, some do not; we will get this corrected for everyone shortly.


  9. Dave Caldwell says:

    I will never fly an airline that charges me for carry on bags. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that we’re already charged for checking a bag. Spirit Airlines has been added to my “do not fly” list.

  10. Darklord says:

    If you review ALL the details carefully, what you will see is that SPIRIT is actually charging you less to bring a BAG (if you CHECK IT). Here’s the deal: Yes – as of August 1, 2010 it will cost you $20.00 to bring a bag onboard IF you are a $9 Fare Club member, but it will only cost you $15.00 (online) if you check a bag weighing up to, but no more than 50 pounds. Just check the details where it reads “View our new baggage policies!” It appears that Spirit had an empty baggage compartment and very full overhead bins. So now you get to pay less if you check your bag, but you get to wait…and wait…and wait in baggage claim.

  11. Rick Seaney says:


    A lot of people agree with you, but before you cross them off your list – read what fellow-commenter Darklord has to say on the subject.


  12. Terri Calabrese says:

    I contacted Spirit as I am quite angry about this policy. They said it is in our best interest to pay for this service as we will have a lower fare and priority boarding. I beg to differ. I totally disagree. Everytime I fly Spirit, their ticket with all the fees adds up to a Delta fare easily, yet they are missing the polite personnel. Additionally, their boarding policy does not work well at all. By allowing passengers to board who are sitting all over the aircraft, others seated at the back of the plane and in window seats must then board later, climbing over the priority boarders. This clogs the aisles, creates havoc, and extends the boarding time.Spirit told me in their reply that this new baggage policy will also serve to speed boarding and save money by getting the plane off the ground faster . . . WHAT????????

  13. Cigar Jon says:

    So what comes next?

    TYC Airlines (Take Your Chance) will introduce “swing” fares. For 20% less than the normal economy seat fare you can opt for SRO passage – - strapped in by your shoulders to the ceiling. No leg swinging allowed though. These cattle car specials start next week.

  14. rainyb says:

    I just heard on the news 2nite that CTSA now allows 2 checked bags. Guess what’s next (the 1st two guesses don’t count).
    They, being the evil airlines, aka our enemy, are hoping we ALL have 2 carry on bags so they can start charging carryon bag fees, the more the merrier. boo hiss & grrrrrrrrr……

    I just got back from Phoenix & Calgary with a totally wrecked 2 year old checked bag because the zipper broke. The contents are a mess. Have you ever watched the baggage handlers ‘handle’ bags when they are loaded & unloaded onto a plane? I did in Calgary a couple days ago & was horrified. Wish I’d had a video camera….. The adjustable conveyor belt was adjusted to the perfect height, yet the idiot who transferred the bags from the cart to the belt maliciously “pitched” them onto the belt instead of just placing them on the belt. No wonder people don’t want to check their bags & choose to carry them on themselves.

    I noticed something else on these recent flights. Many people are back to fridge-sized carry on ‘luggage’. The size rules are not being enforcers, again…..

    Thanks for letting me rant…..

  15. Rick Seaney says:


    If flying Spirit is as expensive and inconvenient as you say it is – even before the new checked-bag fee – why are you flying with them?


  16. Rick Seaney says:

    Cigar Jon,

    I’ve got news for you: an airline based in Shanghai has considered “standing room only” – and here’s the link – http://rickseaney.com/2009/07/02/believe-it-or-not-chinese-airline-considers-standing-room-only/


  17. Rick Seaney says:


    Feel free to rant here, anytime. Or, you can do as Dave Carroll did – and turn your rant into a YouTube favorite called, “United Breaks Guitars” which you can see here: http://rickseaney.com/2009/08/19/united-breaks-guitars-guy-tells-us-details-of-airline-offer/


  18. Angela Watson says:

    I’ve flown with Spirit 15-25 times a year for the last four years. My last flight with them will be July 31, 2010. Reading this article did nothing to dissuade me from leaving Spirit for good.

    The CEO states that this move is in response to frequent flight delays due to excessive baggage carry-on. He’s right in that it’s a huge problem. But the solution is simple: monitor the size of carry-on bags at the check-in counter and/or security gate.

    The fact that people drag large bags all through the airport for two hours and then are suddenly stopped a foot outside the door to the plane makes them belligerent, and the arguments hold up everyone behind them. This happens every single time I’ve boarded a Spirit flight. Even if passengers make it onto the plane with their bags, there’s no guarantee there will be room, and the whole aircraft sits and waits while people try in vain to cram their belongings in, and finally allow them to be tagged and checked. If reasonable carry-on size restrictions were established and enforced prior to boarding, the whole problem would be solved.

    Human beings are not animals. They cannot travel hundreds or thousands of miles and stay at a destination for days or weeks at a time with nothing but a ‘personal item’ that will fit under the seat in front of them. People have the right–yes, the right–to fly with a reasonably-sized carry-on that holds their basic necessities. The fact that this is even up for debate demonstrates exactly what Spirit thinks of its customers.

    This is a huge slap in the face when Spirit already has atrocious customer service, incomprehensibly small seating areas, high numbers of broken and cracked passenger seats, dirty and trash-strewn aircraft, and a $3 charge for a bottle of water. Listen to the conversations of Spirit travelers in the airport–flying with this airline is a degrading and uncomfortable experience from start to finish. Charging for carry-ons (and at a higher rater than for CHECKED bags?!) is the most outrageous stunt they’ve pulled yet.

    There’s only so much that people will put up with for a cheap flight, and I think this will be the final nail in the coffin for many loyal Spirit customers who’ve been hanging on as the experience worsens every year. I don’t believe for a second that Spirit is going to lower fares because of the new carry-on fees…they might delay an increase, perhaps, but will the base fares be noticeably lower? Not a chance. And of course we’ll never be able to prove that they didn’t keep their word, because the price of each flight fluctuates too wildly to draw any solid conclusions.

    What Spirit execs are missing is this: requiring customers to pay extra for add-ons makes sense only when it’s actually an add-on. Spirit has been very successful with the “pay only for what you want” approach, because not everyone travels with multiple bags, and while snacks are nice, most of us can survive a few hours without one. But at least 90% of customers fly with a carry-on of some sort, most of the time (if the rates weren’t this high, we wouldn’t have such a problem with excessive baggage carry-ons, now would we?). This is not something that people will choose to opt-out of like a $5 bag of pretzels. Spirit knows that just about everyone has to travel with a change of clothes and toiletries, and they’re counting on the new fees as a way to rake in the bucks.

    Spirit has always pioneered the latest standards for air travel: they were one of the first to start charging for snacks…and beverages…and seat selection…and second checked bags…and first checked bags… The tragic thing is that as they lower the bar, other airlines follow suit, and Spirit’s poor service becomes the new standard. Is this really the legacy that CEO Baldanza wants for Spirit Airlines? Is money always the bottom line, at the expense of all else?

    For me, it is not. Which is why I will pay more to fly with an airline that gets that.

  19. chuck says:

    Well, eventually it should move to a fee calculated by a volume and mass basis–which is the way aircraft or other transport actually cost…maybe.

    But it’s their own fault if they have full overhead bins, separating the baggage fee from the ticket was just another way to make their apparent prices lower than their actual prices.

    What I can’t figure is why anyone flying First Class would choose to board the plane and sit there for a half-hour or more having everyone else on the plane bump on by…they ought to board in order from the rear forward, which would reward First Class by allowing them the most time to get to their flight, and penalise the rest of us by making us wit on the plane at both ends…as they do it now, those in the rear must wait while those forward stow everything, or try and squeeze past.

  20. Rick Seaney says:


    Thank you for your elegantly stated argument – you’ve certainly covered all the bases, and beautifully so. That said, does anyone from the opposition wish to respond?

    Thanks again.

  21. Rick Seaney says:


    Interesting point – but I suspect a lot of people, First Class passengers included, just want to – get on, sit down and settle in.


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