Spirit Airlines Loses Challenge to DOT's All-Inclusive Airfare Ad Rules

Spirit Airlines lost its challenge today to overturn new airfare rules that were put into place by the Department of Transportation last January. Among the requirements: all advertised fares include government taxes and fees. The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected airline arguments that the rule violated the right to engage in personal and political speech.

How Spirit makes Money: Fees and More Fees

Spirit: No More $9 Specials

Spirit has been especially angry about the advertising rule and with good reason: it essentially put an end to Spirit’s famous ad campaigns for $9 airfares. In the wake of the new requirements – which the airline complied with – Spirit nevertheless declared a war of sorts on the government, fuming on its website about a “hidden agenda to quietly increase taxes” and urging its customers to contact their elected representatives.

Spirit Declares “War”

Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson told FareCompare they disagree with the ruling but will continue to comply with the rules, though she noted that “consumers are going to have to pay more for air travel.”

Spirit’s Response to DOT Rules: New Fee

Actually, Spirit made sure that flyers would pay more once the DOT rules went into effect by immediately slapping a brand new fee on all its fares. Called the “Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations Fee,” this $2 charge was placed on all Spirit airfares back on Feb. 1 and remains in effect to this day.

Spirit’s 19 Hour Hell Flight

Allegiant, Southwest Joined Spirit Challenge

Spirit also fought – and lost – on other provisions mandated by the DOT rules, including the requirement that airlines give customers 24 hours to cancel tickets without penalty, and a ban on changing the price of a ticket after purchase by increasing fees for baggage or fuel surcharges.

Another low-cost carrier, Allegiant, filed a similar suit that was later included in Spirit’s challenge, and as Bloomberg reports, Southwest “intervened in the case” to challenge the advertising rule.


Published: July 24, 2012