Spirit Airlines is the low-fare carrier that makes up for its cheap tickets with numerous fees. If you can avoid the fees flying can be cheap.
The airline has posted a new fee schedule effective Nov. 6 that Spirit customers should get familiar with, especially if they are in the habit of paying for a carry-on bag at the gate. Starting Nov. 6 that fee jumps from $45 to $100.
Spirit's numerous fees are often a sore spot with travelers who look only at the published fares. Sandra, of Staten Island, NY, is a good example.
"Our family of three flew to vacation via Spirit Airlines, which seemed to be the most affordable offer," Sandra wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. "We had one hand luggage each, which we thought should be carried for free, but when we reached the gate, our hand luggage was 2 inches over-sized. We had to pay $40 for each piece, for a total of $120! This was a vacation expense we didn't count on."
Spirit makes no apologies for its fees, pointing out that travelers who can avoid them are getting a very good value.
"We empower customers to save money on air travel by offering ultra low base fares with a range of optional services for a fee, allowing customers the freedom to choose only the extras they value," the airline says on its Website.
With that in mind, it might be good for consumers to familiarize themselves with Spirit's fee schedule, with special emphasis on the ones that are going up next month.
The sooner you pay the lower the fee
With Spirit, the sooner you pay the fee the less it is. For example, if you pay when you purchase your ticket online but before you check in, the carry-on bag fee is currently $30. Nov. 6 it goes up to $35. The first checked bag fee, purchased online before check in, is currently $28 but is going up to $30.
If you wait to pay for a carry-on bag at check in, the fee is $35 but is rising to $40. The longer you wait to pay the fee, the more it is.
Purchasing at the airport counter, for example, costs $40 for a carry-on, but is going up to $50 -- a 25 percent increase. The first checked bag is going from $38 to $45 and the second checked bag is rising from $45 to $55.
In addition to baggage fees there are also seating fees, booking fees, overweight baggage fees, sporting equipment fees and special service fees. Travelers who look only at the published fares and not at the fee schedule might be in for a rude shock.