At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post Reply
Hanna
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:11 pm

At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by Hanna » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:22 pm

By Scott McCartney

What does it say that the most profitable, fastest-growing U.S. airline is also the most-complained about U.S. airline? Fliers care most about cheap fares. Spirit Airlines makes no apologies. The ticket price is just the bait on the hook to get travelers onto planes. Then the airline reels in the fees for everything else.

If you want a seat assignment, a carry-on bag or even a drink of water, you pay extra. Buy a ticket with a credit card and you’ll pay a “passenger usage fee.” The fee for checking your first bag can be as high as $100. You might have to pay $25 more if you exceed the 40-pound weight limit because you’re used to other airlines’ 50-pound limit. Forget to print a boarding pass? That’s $10 to have an agent do it for you. There’s no fee to recline the thin seats—they don’t recline because legroom is so cramped.

(snip)

It’s a strategy that is working well, because other airlines have raised prices so much. Spirit, founded in 1980 and based near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is expanding nationwide into routes connecting big cities. Earlier in February it announced nine additional routes from Atlanta and three new routes from Los Angeles. It has already grown to be the second-biggest airline at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Delta Air Lines has created a new ultracheap, no-perk fare class to combat Spirit in markets where they overlap.

(snip)

The $9 Fare Club is a misnomer—Spirit doesn’t offer $9 fares anymore, but did when the promotion started in 2007. The fine print shows that it automatically renews every year unless you call to cancel. Once paid, there are no refunds for the $70 annual subscription to get access to the cheapest fares. I booked Spirit flights from Houston to Fort Lauderdale, then to Dallas. For the first leg, Spirit’s website offered a Bare Fare of $117.59 if I became a member of the $9 Fare Club, or $191.59 if I didn’t. The flight to Dallas was offered at $198.09—no $9 Fare Club deal available.

Joining the club would pay for itself on this trip, but I really don’t want to pay again a year from now when I forget to cancel. I take the standard fare. Then Spirit asks about bags: one carry-on for me, at $35 each way. Then what about reserving a seat? The flight from Houston offers most anything in the back of the plane for $11, up to a “big front seat” for $35. Feeling burned on bags, but not wanting to risk Spirit assigning me a middle seat, I take an aisle seat for $11 in the back. The Dallas flight has an array of choices from $10 to $25. I go for mid-cabin aisle for $14. That’s how my $389.68 fare grew to $484.68.

At the airport, Spirit typically starts boarding flights 45 minutes ahead of departure. At big airports, if you’re not checked in 45 minutes before your flight, Spirit will assume you won’t make the plane, cancel your reservation and charge a fee to rebook. The airline says that’s because it maximizes use of its planes, which fly on average more than 13 hours a day, to keep costs low.

(snip)

With my knees knocking the seat in front, I notice most passengers have legs splayed into the aisle. Each Spirit row is 2 to 3 inches tighter than comparable coach seats on other airlines. US Airways has 150 seats on its Airbus A320s. Spirit has 178. Cramming more seats on the plane means Spirit can offer lower fares, Mr. Baldanza says.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/at-spirit-a ... 1424888610

User avatar
Troglodyte
Posts: 16607
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:33 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by Troglodyte » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:04 am

I can bear anything for a flight lasting 2 hours or less. But when real ticket prices approach the other ALs. --:--
Guess they haven't heard of China's standing room discounts. Would that be next?
I don't suffer from any mental illnesses.. I enjoy them..

not4u13
Posts: 5481
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:00 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by not4u13 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:25 am

They make no secret about the additional charges. They tell you right up front when you buy tickets on their site that you are only buying a seat on the plane. The point of the model is not to nickel and dime passengers, but to provide passengers with a completely customized price experience, starting at the lowest price point possible. When people try and treat travel on Spirit like travel on other airlines, then you are going to be surprised by the additional fees.

My only turnoff is the space. I won't fly them for that reason.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; John Muir
http://www.quotesdaddy.com

Hanna
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:11 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by Hanna » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:32 am

Troglodyte: Guess they haven't heard of China's standing room discounts. Would that be next?

For a while, an Irish airline was considering charging for using the lavatory. I don't know if it went through. But this can give Spirit an idea. If not already there.

Hanna
Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:11 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by Hanna » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:35 am

If they charge you for carryon and for checked baggage - how are you supposed to travel? Would they charge me for my purse? What about a coat?

My concerns have been, as more and more seat are added - has the TSA ever tested how well such a box of sardines can be evacuated in case of emergency? As in during the landing on the Hudson?

not4u13
Posts: 5481
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:00 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by not4u13 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:22 pm

You can take as much or as little with you as you want, you just pay ala-carte. If all you bring is your purse, you will pay less than the person who comes on board with a full suitecase. It's just a different pricing model and it appears some passengers are adapting well and others ... not so much.

As for packing them in, I am sure there are regulations, but I am not familiar with what they are.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; John Muir
http://www.quotesdaddy.com

User avatar
John Q. Public
Site Admin
Posts: 19754
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:56 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by John Q. Public » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:31 pm

Define "purse". Do they regulate its contents? I'm guessing Spirit sees more men carrying them than other airlines do.
Don't look at me, I just work here.

User avatar
Troglodyte
Posts: 16607
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:33 pm

Re: At Spirit Airlines, Airfares Come With Asterisks

Post by Troglodyte » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:28 pm

Some purses would ne overloaded with a credit card and some change, others are the size of a suit case.
I'm surprised at the size of some carry on baggage plus back packs. Some ALs are a bit loose about that.
Then there are the car seats, baby beds and diaper bags as well as the screaming brats..
By the time you get to your seat the overhead bins are full. spill over from business class..
I don't suffer from any mental illnesses.. I enjoy them..

Post Reply