Spirit’s New Carry-On Bag Fee: ‘Outrageous’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  04.08.10 | 12:53 PM ET

That’s one word Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood used to describe the new carry-on baggage fees announced this week by Spirit Airlines. LaHood also told Christopher Elliott that his department aims to do something about it:

I think it’s a bit outrageous that an airline is going to charge someone to carry on a bag and put it in the overhead. And I’ve told our people to try and figure out a way to mitigate that. I think it’s ridiculous.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

6 Comments for Spirit’s New Carry-On Bag Fee: ‘Outrageous’

Mitch Roberts 04.08.10 | 3:05 PM ET

The answer is one of those photojournalism vests! Everyone will be “wearing” their luggage, filling pockets with toiletries and spare shoes. Double up your pants and shirts, then remove once seated to use as blankets and pillows so you don’t pay a fee for those items as well.

Dan 04.08.10 | 3:19 PM ET

I don’t think Ray LaHood will have to do anything. To borrow a TV term, Spirit Airlines has “jumped the shark” on fees. They’ll succeed in their goal to load/empty the plane more quickly because fewer people will fly with them.

With that said, I do think the government should set standards for what’s included in a ticket price—or at the very least make the airlines add a bit of transparency into their fare structure. When you start getting fees that are essentially impossible to avoid, then that’s part of the total ticket cost. (Ryanair’s fee to check in, for example). Break down the costs from start to finish, including government taxes, in clear language. Customers should know how much their ticket really costs.

Larry J. Clark 04.08.10 | 7:00 PM ET

Spirit has been a “leader” in this kind of thing in the past.  The problem with this move is more psychological than anything…Customers may feel that they haven’t a real choice and that there is no “clever” way out of the luggage conundrum.  (It’s amazing how many people think they’ve outsmarted the airlines and their checked luggage fees by using a carry-on.  Go figure.)  Pushing your customers one way or another is tolerated.  Boxing them in may not be so cool.

I think Secretary LaHood should first focus on rationalizing all these different fees.  Comparison shopping for air travel is getting more difficult, and consumers might benefit from more consistent information. 

(On the other hand, LaHood’s preemptive declaration may just be preparing DOT’s initial position for the Congressional hearings that are sure to happen.)

Grizzly Bear Mom 04.12.10 | 11:47 AM ET

It costs the airline (more gas & time) for the weight of my carry on bag to be flown around in their plane so they change me.  Sounds reasonable to me.  Shop around for free carry on if you wish. 

I certainly hope the Secretary of Transporation has more important things to think about like safety, economy, energy, etc than worry about carry on bag fees.

c. larrabee 04.12.10 | 5:56 PM ET

If the luggage charge reflects weight to fuel usage, why not weigh passengers and their
carryon.  If below a certain weight, no charge.  Why do we have to suffer the carryon cost
when the overweight among us are contributing more to the fuel costs?

MIchelle 04.21.10 | 1:50 PM ET

This is ridiculus!! How can you justify if you are a family and have to ship checked baggage and carry on baggage for various people?  Andf as the CEO said, if you don’t have any bags, you save money.  I am a frequent traveler and rarely do I travel without a small bag.  Airline travel has changed drastically over the past decade.

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