Spirit Officially Begins Charging for Carry-on

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It's official. As of Sunday, Spirit Airlines is now charging a fee of up to $45 for carry-on bags.

A spokeswoman for the Florida-based carrier tells The Associated Press the new fee is designed to "speed things up."

But of course Spirit's passengers are none too pleased.

Samantha Robles, 22, preparing for a flight at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, tells AP the new charges are "ridiculous." She says she ended up checking her suitcase because it was cheaper than paying for carry-on and she says she probably won't fly Spirit again.

"It's a surprise," says Angel Aviles, 35, traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico with three family members. "It's too expensive. Compared to other airlines, they've raised it too much."

Spirit's CEO Ben Baldanza tells AP the carrier is prepared for complaints. But he says people should also realize Spirit cut the price of its fares overall, which in some cases offsets the fee.

"I think what we'll find is over the next weeks and months as this program evolves, and more and more people understand it, that people will see that the trade-off is a really good one," he says. "Not everyone will think that, and those people may choose to fly someone else, but will likely pay more for their total travel than they will on Spirit."

So why become the first U.S. carrier to charge for carry-on?

Spirit says the fee is a time-saving move because not as many people will use the overhead bins and there won't be the need to take items that don't fit off the plane, the spokeswoman tells AP. While the carrier does not expect to profit directly from the fee, Spirit hope to save enough time to be able to add more flights, she says.

The carry-on charge is $30 at check-in or $45 at the boarding gate, for any item too big to fit under the seat. Some items are still free including umbrellas, camera bags, strollers and car seats.

Spirit operates about 150 flights daily in the U.S. and Latin America.

Photo, PhillipC, Flickr
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