Spirit Airlines Raises Baggage Fee

May 7, 2012 Updated: May 7, 2012

NEW YORK—Low-cost carriers are looking for ways to increase revenues, and unsuspecting passengers could see their discount airfare tickets cost a lot more, if new baggage fees are included.

Miramar, Fla.-based Spirit Airlines last week announced new fees on luggage, including carry-on luggage, to be enacted later this year.

Starting on Nov. 6, carry-on bags at the airport kiosk will cost $50 per bag, up from the $45 Spirit current charges. Customers can lower that price to $35 per carry-on bag if one books online in advance. The heftiest prices are charged at the boarding gate, which will cost passengers $100 per carry-on bag. Mind you, those prices are for carry-on bags, not checked-in luggage.

“We don’t want any of our customers to wait until they get to the boarding gate to pay for their carry-on bags as this delays the boarding process for everyone. We expect that our new $100 fee charged for those who wait until they get to the gate will ensure that customers purchase their bags before arriving at the gate,” said Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson in a statement.

Spirit bills itself as a discount carrier and states that the pricing structure will lower ticket costs for customers by “unbundling” the cost of a plane ticket, inferring that other airlines include this carry-on cost in the price of the plane ticket.

Spirit is one of the only airlines that charge for the first carry-on bag. Baggage fees have been a contentious issue in the airline industry, which has led Southwest Airlines to market itself as an airline for which “bags fly free.”

But in an editorial, The Atlantic columnist Jordan Weissman argues that charging for baggage is a boon for consumers as it allows for more choice for passengers. He argues that at most airlines—which don’t charge for carry-ons—the price of carry-ons are already included in the ticket price. Consumers just aren’t aware of it.

Nonetheless, customers will no doubt be vocal against Spirit’s latest changes. On Facebook, Spirit Airlines’ page has 9,233 “likes,” and the Facebook page of “Boycott Spirit Airlines” has garnered 40,893 “likes.”

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