Demystifying Spirit Airlines Carry-On Baggage Fees (Photogs Listen Up!)

Yesterday Spirit Airlines instituted its new policy for changing passengers to bring carry on bags on-board the airlines’ flights. I had written about this when it was announced back in April of this year here : Spirit Airlines Charges For Carry-On Bags & Beats Ryanair To The Bottom

As the airline struggles to implement its new ancillary revenue fees for charging passengers for their carry on bags many passengers are confused by the airline both allowing-and-disallowing free carry on bags.

If you happen to be flying with Spirit Airlines, the carrier allows a single carry on bag, not to exceed 16in x 14in x 12in (40cm x 35cm x 30cm) on board flights at no charge. Passengers are entitled to a single bag of this size and the bag should be stored underneath the seat in front of the passenger.

For passengers with any carry-on bag exceeding 16x14x12, a fee will be charged to carry that bag on board the flight.

If I can steal a phrase from Dan Webb, author of the Things In The Sky blog on BoardingArea … Interesting Fact – Spirit Airlines’ maximum carry on bag size of 22in x 18in x 10iin, or 50 linear inches,  is larger than nearly all U.S. airlines, with the exception of Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines.

Spirit Airlines’ fees for paying for cabin baggage is a big confusing, its US$20, or US$30 or US$45…to break that down it…passengers who belong to the Spirit Airlines $9 Fare Club pay US$20 for carry on bags; payments online for non club members is US$30 and for those of you playing the odds you’ll sneak the bag on … and let me tell you that you won’t … the fee s US$45.

So why should the Photogs listen up? Spirit Airlines states that a camera is exempt from carry on baggage fees. When Sprit Airlines says that cameras are exempt from carry on fees they mean point & shoot cameras on your shoulder … maybe a Nikon D3 with a 14-24f2.8 attached, but that is it.  Cameras on your lens are charged at the discretion of the gate agent. Anything larger than a single camera and reasonably sized lens and you’re at the mercy of the airline.

Think Spirit Airlines might cut you some slack with your rolling camera bag loaded with gear? Think again, they’ll make you pay the $45 to get the bag on board or they’ll send you away.

Spirit Airlines has one-upped the race to the bottom for airlines and the only one who wins is Spirit Airlines.

Happy Flying!


  1. Don’t these rules revolving around the camera seem pretty subjective? I mean, I could be a photo-obsessed dad who thinks its A-OK to bring a Canon and an array of lenses onboard to shoot my kids from all different angles and with different lenses. I mean, you might as well not even carry a camera onboard unless it’s a point and shoot or, as you mentioned, only have one lens.

  2. One news site (can’t remember which) quoted a Spirit rep as saying that they’d also cut fares by $45. If that’s true, the carry-on charge doesn’t seem quite so bad.

    I’m not fond of the precedent, but giving uber-frugal flyers a new way to save an extra $45 (if it’s true) is an interesting approach.

  3. Billy,

    I have heard Spirit Airlines say it dropped fares by $45 once or twice, but I have seen no evidence of that.

    Happy Flying!


  4. Taylor,

    Many carry on regulations are subjective. On more than one occasion I have boarded a flight with a full-size DSLR camera attached to a 400f2.8 on my shoulder, in addition to my camera bag. Each time I would cite that a camera is ‘personal property’ not a carry on. Gate agents never knew how to deal with it, so I’d board no problem.

    When carry on was completely banned on British Airways flights I boarded planes with a photo vest stuffed with two cameras, half-a-dozen lenses, batteries, flash and a 12″ Mac PowerBook (in the rear map pocket). Technically I had no carry on, everything was stuffed into my clothing pockets…so it is all a matter of being subjective.

    Spirit Airlines is not an airline I’d tangle with when it comes to semantics, the passenger will most certainly lose.

    Happy Flying!


  5. Flew Spirit today and was charged for a roll-on that was one inch too long for their bin. It was a couple inches narrower and thinner, but they said if it sticks out u have to pay. While talking to them, they let several other passengers thru with larger bags. Did I notice that one was the same race as the agent, or another a young student with a tennis racket (the agent said that was a musical instrument which is exempt)? The same bag was fine on the outbound leg, and has been fine on 50 other flights since I bought it, but not today. The agent sent me a supervisor at the counter to discuss it, but the supervisor was in the back and could not be disturbed. My plane was leaving. The policy is being enforced arbitrarily and discriminatorily. They got their $30 but lost a customer. I’ve flown over a million miles in 40 years, including in third world countries, and never seen anything like this.

  6. Same thing happened to me, Freqtraveler – at the Ft. Lauderdale airport on my return from Costa Rica. They have a small 14″ crate @ FLL – and if anything sticks up – even if it fits in – they can make you pay. I happened to have a 16″ computer – and when I put it in vertically it was taller than the crate. Had waited all day to eat at the FLL airport – but because of that agent (bet it was the same one as you – hispanic – allowed all other hispanics to go through with larger bags) – I had to go and wait in a long line to pay $45 for the privilege of having my computer. Almost missed my flight. Never got to eat, either. I felt discriminated against – because I’m white with blonde hair & blue eyes. From now on, will only fly spirit if I can’t get there some other way. Have flown 4 roundtrip international flights on spirit airlines with that same computer & never had a problem – ’til then; it was after the first leg of my return flight @ the Fort Lauderdale airport. Had always seen, heard & read that if it fit under your seat it was acceptable. That crate is the size of a filing crate – very small. BEWARE OF SPIRITAIR.

  7. I’ve found that writing a (old-fashioned, snail-mail) letter to the CEO detailing your complaint often yields positive results. Worth a try.

  8. VSH,

    A letter to an airline CEO only matters if the CEO cares. In the case of Spirit Airlines it has been shown time and time again that he does not care. This is evident in an email he fired off to his staff, and CC’d an upset customer onto, that essentially said customers who fly Spirit Airlines are bottom of the barrel and as long as they get a low initial fare, they’re come back time and time again line lemmings.

    Happy Flying!


  9. it’s funny you said that the agent was a hispanic but the fact is that the CO is white with blond hair and blue eyes. go figure just following rules or else is the street. you can’t blame one without blaming the other.

  10. It’s funny you said that the agent was a hispanic but the fact is that the CEO is white with blond hair and blue eyes. go figure just following rules or else is the street. you can’t blame one without blaming the other.

  11. I have been looking for a bag that fits the requirement, and found a cooler that is perfect. So once I get to SXM I can use it to lug my rum and coke in as well. Hubster is going to just find a brown box to use as his free carry on.. HA Spirit airlines!

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