Spirit Airlines Hit with Class Action Suit Against Fees

When it comes to fee-friendly airlines, there are few that can top Florida-based discounter Spirit. The self-styled ultra low-cost carrier offers incredibly cheap deals but makes up for it with a laundry list of optional fees. Now, an attorney in Miami is calling the airline out with a class action lawsuit that describes some of its fees as misleading and worse.

Spirit vs. the Government: Who Won?

Spirit’s ‘Misleading’ Fees

The suit, filed late Monday, zeroes in on what Spirit calls its “passenger usage fees” which range from $8.99 to $16.99 one-way. These particular fees are optional only in the sense that they are not levied on tickets purchased at airport counters – but how many have the time to run out to LaGuardia or O’Hare? More to the point, the information that the fees are waived for those who purchase tickets at airports is not included on Spirit’s “optional fees” page, but must be searched for. The suit claims that, “By means of omissions and misrepresentations, Spirit misleads consumers to believe that the [passenger usage fee] is an official government tax or fee when, in reality, the fee is nothing more than additional airfare because Spirit does not provide any bona fide service in exchange for the [fee].”

Spirit: Crazy Little Airline that Breaks All the Rules

Spirit Lashes Back

In other words, per the lawsuit – Spirit passengers pay something for nothing, in the belief that they are required to – a charge Spirit hotly denies. “Spirit believes the claims are without merit and intends to defend the case,” as Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson told FareCompare, without further elaboration.

Spirit has many enthusiastic fans who love the airline because of its no-frills, dirt-cheap service, but even those who love it don’t always like it, as this Yelp reviewer noted: “I know they suck! But, for a cheap ticket, I will endure anything.”

Spirit’s Other Unpopular Fees

Sometimes that means enduring a fee for a carry-on bag, a trend started by Spirit and so far followed only by Allegiant. Spirit also has come under fire for not allowing its patrons to choose any seats without paying a fee when booking airfare, although they will be assigned a seat at boarding – for free – if they decline to pay (this of course greatly diminishes the chances of getting an aisle or window).

Spirit and Fees: Joined at the Hip

Spirit: Raking in the Revenue

Spirit however is doing one thing very well, and that’s making money. The fees are a big part of it, too. According to an airline consulting group, a third of Spirit’s revenue can be directly traced to its fees.


Published: August 8, 2012