Spirit's $100 Carry-on Bag Fee is Coming – Why You Don't have to Worry

Last spring, FareCompare reported that Spirit Airlines planned to increase its carry-on bag fees as of Nov. 6. With the approach of the busy Thanksgiving travel period, it's a good time to remind passengers of the coming hikes, especially the new (and unprecedented) $100 fee.

The good news is, most passengers will never pay it.

Spirit: Crazy Airline that Breaks All the Rules

Who Pays the $100 Carry-on Bag Fee

Spirit and Allegiant are the only two U.S. airlines that charge for carry-ons and both say it's been successful. Both vary the cost of these fees: Allegiant, by length of flight, and Spirit by point of purchase. Spirit's carry-on fee can be as little as $25 (for those who pay $60 to join the airline's $9 Club).

The airline's new $100 fee will only be levied on passengers who wait until the last minute to pay the fee at the airport gate. Spirit claims it doesn't want its customers doing that because waiting until the last minute slows down the boarding process which may "delay flights, increase costs for the company, and ultimately result in higher fares for everyone." It's also possible that Spirit has instituted the last-minute budget-busting fee to deter travelers who might try to sneak a carry-on aboard for free, but again, the airline claims it's simply to keep costs down.

Lies about 'Optional Fees'

How Much Money Spirit Makes from Bag Fees

Spirit is being somewhat disingenuous – bag fees bring in a lot of money. In the first half of 2012 alone, Spirit raked in more than $82 million in baggage fees, which is more than it made in all of 2010, the year it introduced its charge for carry-ons. And now fees for all carry-on baggage points-of-purchase are on the rise:

Spirit Carry-on Bag FeeCurrent CostCost as of Nov. 6
Purchased online$30$35
Purchased by phone$35$40
Purchased at airport counter/kiosk$40$50
Purchased at gate$45$100


Man Creates Luggage to Avoid Spirit Fees

How to Save on Spirit Fees

Spirit does allow passengers a free personal item, such as a purse, small backpack or briefcase, but it must fit under the seat in front of you and cannot exceed 16 x 14 x 12 inches. Can't find one? One frustrated Spirit flyer took up the challenge and created luggage specifically designed to fit under Spirit seats and is available for purchase online.

Anne McDermott
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