Nope – this is not an April fools post. Spirit Airlines, one of the cheapest of the US low cost carriers is working behind the scenes to introduce a “passenger usage fee” which is just a snazzy way of describing a fee to cover the costs of you buying a ticket.
That’s right – Spirit Airlines is going to charge you, in order to charge you. The fee is rumored to be $5 or $10, and will apply to any booking made anywhere other than the Spirit Airlines ticket desk at your airport.
The whole thing sounds like a joke gone bad, but it is actually the result of negotiations with the Department of Transportation.
Spirit had initially launched a whole lineup of ridiculous fees last year, including what they called a “natural occurrence interruption fee”; a $2.50 fee to help recover the costs involved with storms and other weather related incidents. The DOT was not amused, and Spirit was handed a $40,000 fine.
Spirit clearly learned their lesson, because this time they are negotiating with the DOT how to implement these new fees. One area of concern is whether Spirit will be forced to include the fee in all their advertising, or whether they can keep it hidden until the last moment, usually when you and I pull out our credit cards. The end result may be that they need to advertise it on their own site, but that third party booking sites won’t be forced to mention it until the last page of your booking process.
In my opinion, the whole fee process is just becoming silly – yes, we consumers are always looking for nice cheap tickets, but we are not entirely stupid. When a $100 ticket becomes $200 after all the fees and taxes, we know we are not getting a good deal. Fingers crossed that the DOT keeps us in mind when they finally approve this new fee racket.