Next week, I’ll be flying Spirit Air for the first – and last – time.
I bought my ticket on the Florida-based airline out of desperation a few weeks ago when I needed a flight to St. Thomas. Even though Spirit generally offers itself as a lower-priced alternative, my Caribbean tickets were neither cheap (about $488 after taxes) nor convenient (we’re flying out of Atlantic City, which requires a hotel stay the night before).
And I was already well aware that we’d have to shell out more money for the seat assignments themselves, a necessity when you travel with a guy topping 6’5, although I’m a little shocked at the prices ($20 for an exit row, $12 for an aisle). On a two-leg trip, those fees will easily reach another $100 round trip.
Because we’re going on a sailing cruise, we are traveling light – as in, one duffel bag used as a carry on. Turns out that it’s a good thing we’re traveling now, as in Spirit Air announced this week that it will be adding carry on bag fees of up to $45 to its arsenal of charges. That’s right. You will now pay to store your bag in the overhead bin (if you can squish your bag under the seat in front of you, there’s no charge), just as you have to pay if you check it. Analysts are speculating that other airlines may join Spirit in adding these charges, if it is a success.
I understand that airlines – and other passengers – have suffered since checked bag fees came into vogue. On my Delta flight home from Seattle this week, I noticed the chaos and frustration as people tried to stuff their rollies into the overhead bin. It’s a real hassle for flight attendants and travelers alike, not to mention potentially dangerous. As a dedicated aisle seat fan, I am waiting for the day that someone drops a huge suitcase on my head as they try to shove it in.
(I checked my bag – and you can see where that got me. We’ll see how long it takes to get my suitcase fixed).
But imposing fees for bringing any luggage at all is too much. Seriously. Airlines should make up their minds: either charge a fee for checked bags OR for carry on bags. But not both. Spirit’s new policy is the blatant money-making move that makes potential customers furious – so angry, in fact, that I will now go out of my way to avoid flying them.
And those are the feelings from someone who likes to travel. I often hear from others who don’t travel as much as I do and between the bag fees and the TSA security theater, they are fed up, particularly if they are older or have young children. In recessionary times, it’s been easier for these people to justify their decision not to travel, which doesn’t help anyone who makes their living in the industry.
In marketing circles, it’s called customer fatigue. And now that Spirit Air has done their part to perpetuate it, I hope other airlines see an opportunity to search for a creative solution for the baggage problem that treats the flier as a savvy shopper instead of an ATM.
In the meantime, Spirit is officially at the top of my own do-not-fly list. I suggest others add them as well. As customers, let’s try to stop this trend before it spreads throughout the unfriendly skies.
What are your thoughts on a carry on bag fee? Would a fee like this encourage you to seek out another airline?