BREAKING: Spirit Airlines to charge up to $45 fee for carry-on bags

There’s big news in the airline industry today, as Spirit Airlines announced the addition of carry-on baggage fees to their already healthy roster of post-ticketing charges.

For those paying online, each carry on bag will cost an additional $30 unless you’re in Spirit’s subscription-based $9 Fare Club. Those lucky members will only be charged $20 per bag. If paying for the service in-person at the airport, the fee jumps to $45 per bag. Personal items such as purses or briefcases will continue to be free as long as they fit underneath the seat.

Although Spirit Airlines is the first carrier to initiate such a fee, there’s broad speculation among the travel community on whether it will be picked up by other carriers — checked baggage fees, paid snacks and seat selection, after all, have all been nearly universally adopted over the last three years. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of free carry-on luggage industry wide.

On the bright side, however, there should be plenty more overhead bin space after August 1.

New baggage fees will go into effect on August 1st. You can check out more details and see whether your bag qualifies as a “carry-on” or a “personal item” over at


Spirit Airlines credit card comes with three free roundtrip tickets

We don’t always cover frequent flier promotions or airline credit card bonus perks – but when we run into generous ones, we’ll always try to share the news.

The newest promo from Spirit Airlines rewards you with three free roundtrip tickets, just for signing up and making one purchase on their card.

Of course, the promotion isn’t as impressive as the recent 100,000 mile bonus British Airways handed out to people who applied for their credit card, but in this economy, snagging free airline tickets can be a pretty rewarding hobby.

The “Free Spirit” credit card also offers priority boarding, priority check-in, first year free, additional bonus miles for balance transfers and a free fare club membership.

To apply for the Free Spirit card, click here and click here for an overview of all award ticket destinations. The free tickets are based on off-peak availability, so please do keep an eye on the fineprint for any other “gotchas” – which is of course applicable to anything an airline offers you.

Spirit Airlines announces another raunchy marketing stunt

Ah, Spirit Airlines – the airline equivalent of a Beavis and Butthead episode.

After annoying their own staff with their “MILF” promotion back in 2007, the marketing minds at this low cost carrier have decided to ignore all the previous criticism, and launched yet another raunchy promo.

Dubbed “MUFF DIVING“, the promo promises “Many Unbelievably Fantastic Fares to Diving Destinations”. Yeah, we get the joke (and it made me chuckle).

Still – you can’t blame them for trying; their stunt has already caught the attention of many Internet sites (this one included).

So, even if they don’t sell a single ticket, and even when they’ll make their own staff madder than ever — they have created the kind of buzz only smart marketing people manage to create. Kudos Spirit.


The next hidden fee – Spirit Airlines to charge a fee for buying a ticket?

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.

Check out these stories from the airport checkpoint!

Budget Travel – The Low Cost Carrier

Summary: The low cost carrier (LCC) may seem like a new development in the aviation world, but the concept is anything but new. The first real low cost “no frills” airline was Laker Airways, which took off back in 1966 from the UK, and shuttled passengers to destinations all around the world for as little as $50.

Laker Airways provided the inspiration for many of the current low cost carriers, and even major airlines like Virgin Atlantic took a close look at Sir Freddie Laker’s business model to learn from his experiences and mistakes.

A low cost carrier is exactly what the name implies – low cost. In order to offer these low prices, the airline naturally makes some cuts. You won’t find anything “free” on the majority of these carriers. Everything from drinks to checked luggage will add to the price of your ticket, but in return you are able to book an insanely cheap fare.

Finding a low cost carrier: Several days ago, Jeffrey wrote about some basic ways you can find a low cost carrier. This information is very important, because almost all low cost carriers handle their own bookings, and do not participate in sites like Expedia or Travelocity. There are 100’s of low cost airlines out there, so if you can’t find what you are looking for, try entering your destination into Google, and a airline or other resource is bound to pop up.

When not to use a low cost carrier: As you navigate the low cost airline websites, you may notice a trend – many of them do not use the airport you expect them to.

For example; Ryanair flies from London to Brussels. Their destination is not to the “normal” airport of Zaventem, but “Brussels South Airport” in Charleroi. Zaventem airport is just 10 miles from the Brussels city center, Brussels South airport is about 50 miles with no direct rail link.

You’ll need to take this into consideration when you book a ticket, as the trip from Charleroi to Brussels takes about an hour by bus and will add about $30 (round trip) to your ticket.

The same goes for many other airport destinations serviced by a low cost carrier. Before you hit “purchase now”, always pull the airport up on a map, and check out the airport site to determine just how much of a hassle it will be to get to your final destination. Saving $50 on a ticket is meaningless if you have to spend another $50 just to get to your hotel.

The low carrier will not always warn you about these remote destinations, so make sure you do your homework. One more thing to keep in mind is that many of these airports are low cost themselves, so do not expect too many facilities.

Too good to be true? When you research a low cost carrier, and compare their prices with a normal carrier, you’d be forgiven if you wondered whether the whole thing is too good to be true.

If you come across a $3 fare on Ryanair, don’t be too suspicious, these carriers sell millions of tickets, and many of them do indeed start that low. In fact, some of these airlines are amongst the largest in the world, all thanks to those cheap tickets.

Of course, you do need to keep in mind that even tickets on a low cost carrier are subject to taxes and other surcharges, so your $5 ticket could easily become $60.

Competition = good: Don’t always depend on the low cost carrier. On routes within Europe where competition is stiff, you’ll often be able to find similar rates on the legacy carriers. For example; easyJet charges about $42 for a one way ticket from London Luton to Amsterdam. But British Airways charges just $68 for a flight from the much nicer Heathrow airport to Amsterdam. If you are on a budget, but still have a little cash to spare, consider your comfort before committing to a low cost carrier.

Booking on a low cost carrier: As i mentioned earlier, don’t expect to use your favorite booking site to book a ticket on a low cost carrier. All these carriers handle their own bookings. This means you’ll have to select the cheapest airline yourself.

A great place to start is, this site has most major low cost carriers in their database, and allows you to enter your destination to locate all the low cost carriers that operate on that route.

Low cost carriers are everywhere! When you think of low cost carriers, most people will think of the airlines they recognize – Spirit, JetBlue and Southwest are all very well known in the US.

There are however 100’s of other low cost carriers around the world. Heading to India? Check out GoAir. Going to China? Take a flight on Spring Airlines. A convenient list of all the low cost carriers in the world can be found at Wikipedia.

Get your expectations straight: There is no easy way to say this – low cost carriers are not a luxurious way to travel. If you are used to flying in the first or business class cabin, and having a flight attendant look after all your needs, then a low cost carrier is going to be mighty disappointing.

Book your ticket with the correct expectations, and your flight will be just fine. Remember, most of these flights are under 2 hours, and the money you saved will go towards a nice dinner at your destination. If you board the plane expecting full service, then you are going to be in for a nasty surprise.

What to be on the lookout for: Every low cost carrier will do what it can to “upsell”. During your booking process, you’ll be offered all kinds of additional services, for a fee.

Some of these services may be cheaper than buying them directly, but others may not be the best value out there. If you have money to spare, you may want to consider paying for “priority boarding”, which allows you to board in the first group, greatly increasing your chance of getting a decent seat. This is especially important if you are traveling in a group and do not want to be split up.

Remember, almost no low cost carriers do the seat assignment game, so as soon as the boarding doors open, you are on your own to snag the seat you want.

One other thing to keep in mind, is that not all airlines let you check in for free at the airport. Ryanair is a good example of an airline that charges for checking in at the airport, so don’t be surprised if your family is charged an additional fee, just because you were not able to do an online checkin.