Why Spirit Airlines’ Paying for Carry-Ons Charge is in Everyone’s Future

by brian on April 8, 2010

US based Spirit Airlines announced that starting August 1, 2010, they will charge up to $45 for carry-on luggage that would go in a overhead bin in the cabin.

Spirit says this is what the consumer wants to lower prices and prevent people from crowding the overhead bins to avoid the checked luggage charges. From their press release Spirit heralds this as the “Next Phase of Unbundling”.

SpiritAirlines Why Spirit Airlines Paying for Carry Ons Charge is in Everyones Future

Unbundling. A la carte pricing. Where you have a low base price but have to pay extra for checked luggage, assigned seating, box lunches, even using a credit card for reservations. All things that used to be part of the cost of the ticket.

What is going on?

It’s our fault. YOU and ME.

It’s our fault for being so price sensitive. A $25 difference is enough to have people choose one airline over another. I can’t blame my fellow consumers. Airline travel is not the luxury activity it once was. The time when you needed to wear a coat and tie on a plane are over.

Air travel is so cheap anyone can ride. This is a great thing.

Air travel is so cheap that airlines have to lower prices even more and now unbundle to drum up business. This is good…and bad.

Bad in the sense that consumers like me feel like everything should be included in the price upfront. Don’t charge me $100 for a plane ticket and then have the final price be $250 when all the ‘optional’ fees are applied.

It feels like the classic ‘bait and switch’ scam to many. It’s annoying.

When I first heard this story, I was immediately upset. But in retrospect this is the way the airline industry is going. You pay for what you use.

Which is why I am for obese passengers paying for that extra seat (a whole other blog post).

I and many others plan on boycotting Spirit. But I think that if they advertise $1 fares they will get enough passengers to make up for any lost customers.

And you can bet that all the other airlines are watching to see if Spirit can withstand the flak they are getting.

If Spirit does well, you can expect the other carriers to do the same. They are dying for any type of revenue even at the risk of angering the traveling public even more.

If this is inevitable, as I feel it is, all I ask the airlines is to clearly and legibly put ALL the fees upfront.

Don’t suck us in with an incredible rock-bottom price and then hit us with the real fare once all the ‘extras’ are accounted for.

Can you believe that there are people who go to the airport and still don’t realize there is a ban on liquids over 3.4 ounces? Or people who seem surprised that they need to remove the knives and nunchucks from the luggage or the metal stud tongue from their month?

There are still people who are surprised when they get to the airport and find out that they have to pay for checked pieces of luggage.

The airlines should spell out everything online when they are booking the ticket, on the paper ticket itself. There should be no surprises.

What’s the next step? Here’s a clue…
Ryan Air in Europe is going to charge £1 to use the bathroom. That’s not a late April Fool’s joke. They are going to do it.

Pay to Pee!

I’m still waiting for the airlines to put YOU and YOUR LUGGAGE on a scale and then have you pay according to the total weight. Can you imagine having a public weigh-in at the ticket counter, like a boxer right before the big fight?

That may be an incentive to hit the gym, wouldn’t it?

So what’s your take: Is Spirit’s justified in charging for carry-ons? Would it make you more or less likely to use them? Will other carriers follow?

From JetBlue’s blog – The future of luggage/clothing!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

the international April 8, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Ryanair aren't really going to charge £1 to use toilets. It's a PR campaign. When all the noise dies down and people realise that Ryanair aren't going to go through with that charge, what they won't realise is that during this period, the airline quietly jacked up their baggage check-in/seat selection/etc fees.

Typical Ryanair style.

Cool blog btw, check mine out if you can!

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AirTreks Nico April 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM

This is about as frustrating as it gets for the jet-positive consumer. It's deceit pure and simple. But it's also business, and from a business perspective it makes perfect sense. The race to the bottom always ends up at the bottom, but by adding the fees they don't have to stare up at the rest from the bottom.

Ironically, it's the consumer who demanded the lower fares and it's the consumer who must suffer the slings and arrows of own their demands.

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brian April 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

@the international
Ummm…I dunno about Ryan Air. At first I thought it was a PR stunt too, but the more I read about their skinflint ways, the more I think it is really going to happen.

And Ryan Air is doing well in Europe because they have such low base prices. Not a good sign for the fliers in America.

@AirTrek Nico
The other airlines won't admit it, but I'm sure they are happy Spirit is doing the experiment for them and taking the heat. They'll be ready to implement in August if Spirit does well. And I think they will. The base prices are too tempting.

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the international April 9, 2010 at 4:26 PM

brian, this kind of 'we're going to charge £1 for you to use the toilet' campaign is exactly the kind of thing Ryanair does. They are notorious for it.

For their CEO, any publicity is good publicity, no matter how shameless. I mean look, we're talking about them right now!

Besides, I really doubt that the European Union's aviation regulatory authorities would ever allow RYR to go through with this. I'm sure it will be considered a breach of human rights. It isn't like you are in a shopping mall somewhere with pay-as-you-use toilet facilities, where if you dont want to pay you can go elsewhere.. This is 35000ft in the air, not much choice up there if you don't want to pay!

I think eventually the RYR CEO will appear to 'backtrack' on the idea and it will die down, but he'll be happy because of the anger (and free publicity) that this has generated for his airline. $$$$$

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addito April 11, 2010 at 2:54 AM
brian April 11, 2010 at 10:13 AM

@the international
I hope you're right and I'm wrong.

@addito
That could be the next thing coming.

Have a big scale at the check-in counter. Put your bags on the scale, then you get on the scale.

Or how about a measure for your waist to see if you can fit in a seat? Just like those displays that show if your carry-on can fit in the overhead.

We think this is all ridiculous, but this could fly (pun intended) if the fares are low enough. If you gave me a round trip ticket for $250 to Australia or Tokyo or Europe, I would be willing to put up with a lot. Many others would too.

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