Spirit Airlines Charges For Carry-On Bags & Beats Ryanair To The Bottom

Irish airline Ryanair is reviled by flyers throughout Europe for their extreme measures in ‘unbundling‘ airfares and charging for everything. Ryanair’s pricing is so convoluted that the airline charges passengers to pay for their tickets and even charges passengers to check in for their flights.

While Ryanair is reviled, passengers fly them because of their ultra-low base fares that seem appealing at first glance, but are often equal to, or more costly than, the fares of competitor airlines.

…but for those that thought Ryanair was the ultimate low cost carrier, the airline industry has a new slumlord, an airline that is driven to win ‘the race to the bottom.’ Spirit Airlines, a so-called ultra low cost carrier in the United States that has been following Ryanair’s path to unbundling airfares as completely as possible has officially hit the new low in the industry.

Yesterday evening a press released, with today’s date on it, was released announcing the airline will begin charging passenger for carry on baggage. Yes…for carry on baggage.

For those who believed airlines could not possibly unbundle airfares any more, except possibly charging for the lavatory (as Ryanair has explored doing), Spirit Airlines brings the passenger experience down a notch to a whole new level.

Spirit Airlines will allow passengers to bring a smaller backpack or bag on board, provided it measures no more than 16x14x12 and is placed under the seat in front of you, not the overhead bin.

Should you want to travel with something larger … possibly something that will hold your clothing for a few days away or rolling camera bag for photographers headed to a job … Spirit Airlines now offers three tiered pricing for charging passengers for carry on baggage. The following is the price break out for the cost of your carry on bag:

$9 Fare Club Member Paying Online- US$20

– Non-$9 Fare Club Member Paying Online or On Phone -US$30

– Cost At The Gate – US$45!!!!

Since Spirit Airlines markets its self as an Ultra Low Cost Airline I decided to pick two dates and random and check airfares for a round trip flight from Boston’s Logan Airport to Los Angeles’ LAX. The dates selected by closing my eyes and pointing at a calendar was departing on April 19th nod returning on April 26th.

Traveling on these dates Spirit Airlines’s airfare comes to US$646.86 + US$58.80 for taxes, coming to a grand total of US$705.66

To choose the legacy carrier that I’d search the airfares of, I assigned numbers from 1 to 5 for the five major US legacy airlines then used Random.org to choose the carrier … the number 4 popped up, which corresponded with American Airlines.

Flying the same dates, with far more convenient connections and travel times than Spirit Airlines, the airfare with American Airlines came to US$340.00 + $32.10 in taxes for a total of US$372.10

So the Ultra Low Cost Airline actually costs US$333.56 MORE than the legacy airline.

Of course flying with flying with American Airlines I wouldn’t need to shell out US$3 for a soda, or $30 for a carry on bag … luckily I usually fly with a backpack only.

Well Spirit Airlines … thanks for setting a new standard … the bar is now at a new low.

Happy Flying!



  1. You know… the math for these low cost airlines has never made any sense to me. It always seems to come out to more for my needs.

    And I swear, if I am ever told there is a charge for using the toilet on a plane I will pee in that empty cup of 3 to 5 dollar soda right then and there.
    Smiling the whole frackin’ time.

  2. And the worst part of this is a lot of people think they are getting deals on these low cost carriers but the truth is they are getting over charged.

  3. The obvious purpose of these fees is to generate revenue. The supposed reason for them is that every pound or kilogram loaded onto a plane adds to the fuel cost of the flight. The logical extension would be to charge passengers based on total weight (passenger + bags). I can’t wait to see some airline try that one.

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