NPR logo Spirit Airlines To Charge For Carry-On Bags


Spirit Airlines To Charge For Carry-On Bags

We're all waiting to see how customers react to Spirit Airlines' new charge for carry-on bags. Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo hide caption

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Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

We're all waiting to see how customers react to Spirit Airlines' new charge for carry-on bags.

Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

Most air travelers would probably say it's bad enough they have to pay airline fees for their checked luggage.

But apparently that isn't really bad enough, at least not in the eyes of Spirit Airlines. Because that airline has said it will soon start charging fees for carry-on bags. It will become the first U.S. airline to impose such fees, as much as $45 at the gate.

From Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Privately held Spirit Airlines said Tuesday it will start charging as much as $45 for carry-on bags.

Spirit said the new charge will help the airline lower base air fares. The fee applies to carry-ons placed in overhead bins, while personal items placed under the seat remain free.

Spirit will charge $45 for these bags at the gate and $30 when paid in advance. Members of Spirit's frequent flier program will be charged $20 for carry-on bags if paid in

The fee applies for travel on Aug. 1 and beyond.

"Bring less; pay less. It's simple," Spirit's Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie said in a statement.

So far no other U.S. airline charges for carry-on bags, but major airlines will undoubtedly track consumer response to Spirit's new fee very closely.

"I personally think that would spark a major customer backlash," said S&P analyst Jim Corridore. "The general public is sick and tired of fees. They pay them because they haveto."

On its website, Spirit touts itself as an "ultra low cost carrier."

Spirit Airlines' ULCC (Ultra Low Cost Carrier) approach liberates customers from being forced into paying for services they do not desire or use. When customers are seeking the best value in travel, they can choose a low fare at and select the services and options appropriate for their travel needs.

Spirit, whose hub is Ft. Lauderdale and has a lot of Caribbean, Central and South American routes, prides itself on having fares that are on average $100 lower than its competition.

But with its new fees for carry ons, it would appear to be negating some of that competitive advantage.

Meanwhile, pity the poor air traveler who, because of the checked luggage fees, has been trying to cram more into that carry on or packing a lot less. The skies of commercial aviation just keep getting more and more unfriendly.