Spirit Airlines Fees Review
Tickets may be cheap, but a minimum $35 fee for a carry-on bag plus an additional $30 to $100 for a checked bag, along with myriad other fees, make a flight on Spirit more than you might expect. Other unusual fees include $2 to $3 for nonalcoholic beverages and up to $50 just to pick a seat.
Spirit Airlines fees and other "ancillary revenue" accounted for nearly 40 percent of the budget carrier's total 2013 revenue, according to a report by consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany. That's the highest of any airline and may reveal how Spirit is able to offer low-cost plane tickets and remain profitable. The average base fare was about $69 in 2014, according to the company's annual report.
Spirit Airlines' fees can be complicated to navigate, because many of them vary based on when and where you make a purchase. Take a carry-on bag for example (yes, Spirit charges for that, although a personal item such as a purse or briefcase is always free). If you pay online when you book a flight, or anytime before check-in, it's $35; if you use the reservation center or pay during online check-in, it's $45; if you wait until you get to the airport, it's $55 at the kiosk or counter. If you get all the way to the gate without paying, a carry-on will cost $100. Frequent Spirit customers may come out ahead by joining the airline's $9 Fare Club, which costs $59.95 per year and offers online baggage fees $9 lower, in addition to heavily discounted ticket prices.
Spirit seems to charge fees for everything. Planning to print boarding passes at the airport? That'll be $2 at a kiosk or $10 at the counter. Want to choose a seat instead of having one assigned? Be prepared to pay up to $50 (and that's not even for a so-called Big Front Seat. Those wider seats with extra legroom demand up to $199). Some flyers are fans of this "unbundling," which seems to keep base fares low. Even if you find a good deal on a flight, though, be sure to consider the total cost of the trip, not just the cost of the ticket.
Compare Spirit with other airlines using the charts on pages 2 to 4 of our guide and visit the company's website for a full list of Spirit Airlines fees.