Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -
Ultra low cost carrier (ULCC) Spirit Airlines has announced that it will begin charging $100 for carry on bags for each direction of travel, that's $200 round trip. This is up from its already complaint ridden fee of $45 and $90 for round trip, and that is all on top of the actual ticket. Spirit has been dubbed the "Wal-Mart of the Airlines"
In fact, the AP noted that the new carry on bag fee (round trip) is sometimes more than the actual price of the ticket.
The new fee will take effect November 6, 2012. Spirit is not shy about it either, and has been the subject of considerable industry laughter and heavy criticism from the media and public for their long list of add-ons.
In fact, on route the airline competes with other airlines, if you were to but a round trip ticket on Spirit and then pay for the usual things still offered for free on many other airlines, you will end up actually paying more than if you had just about the more expensive ticket to begin with.
Only Allegiant Airlines has a similar revenue model like that of Spirit.
OPTIONAL FEES FROM SPIRIT
Spirit has a long list of what it calls optional fees and includes; checked bags, carry on bags, membership in fare club, seat assignments, booking a flight by phone, booking your flight online, group booking fee, passenger usage fee (bathrooms), Unintended consequences fee, printing boarding pass at ticket counter, printing boarding passes at kiosks, unaccompanied minors, pet fee, booking fee for those using reward miles, cancelling flight, modifying tickets, changing your reservation, water, beverages, snacks, and just possibly asking anyone at Spirit to do anything.
BETTER PRICES, LOWER COSTS
TFNJ examined the cost of a ticket on Spirit Airlines on 3 routes that are also flown by another legacy carrier and a low cost carrier such as Southwest or JetBlue.
Assuming we booked out ticket online, got our boarding passes at the self serve kiosk, hand one small personal item plus one carry on, and chose to have a beverage, we priced out what it will actually cost to fly Spirit compared to other airlines.
We found that in each case, Spirit Airlines ended up being more expensive overall. So travelers should watch out for all the add-on fees, just because a carrier calls themselves Ultra low cost, does not meant you are paying less, though you are getting less. Spirit has the least amount of leg room of any airline in the US.
To get from Fort Lauderdale to New York (round trip), the average ticket price on United was $310, JetBlue was $290, US Airways $295, Southwest $320, but on Spirit, using the same "ala carte" "optional" services listed above that a normal airline offers for free, the price will be $525.
WAR VETERAN GETS REFUND
Spirit is known for not giving refunds at all. But recently the airline caved after considerable bad press and public pressure. Jerry Meekin is 76 years old and a veteran of the Vietnam war. Meekin had bought a ticket on Spirit but was told later by his doctor after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer that he can not travel. Initially, Spirit said no and refused to even give meekin an opportunity to take it up with a manager.
Spirit, however, says "non-refundable" means just that – no matter the circumstances. "Our reservations are non-refundable, which means we don't do refunds and we are not going to issue Mr. Meekins a refund," Spirit said last week in a statement to Tampa's News Channel 8.
Spirit went on to say they receive lots of similar requests and deny such refunds to all of them, that bending the rules for just one person is not fair to the many who were already denied. But Ben Sachory, a consumer advocate, says the reason Spirit does not want to give a refund is because they are afraid of it starting a precedent and would be forced to give others a refund.
Spirit counts on passenger bookings where the passenger never ends up flying as part of its revenue model.
After considerable pressure, public attention, and realistically, a decline in bookings, Spirit eventually gave Meekin a refund, but reaffirmed, no more refunds.