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Fee-driven Spirit Airlines will raise carry-on bag charge to $100

May 03, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Carry-on and other baggage fees at Spirit Airlines will increase Nov. 6.
Carry-on and other baggage fees at Spirit Airlines will increase Nov. 6. (Spirit Airlines )

Spirit Airlines, the first carrier to impose fees for carry-on bags, starting in November will charge as much as $100 per bag for passengers who bring luggage to stow in the overhead bin. 

It currently costs $45 if you show up at the gate with a carry-on bag. That figure will rise to $100 on Nov. 6, according to baggage fees listed on the airline's website. 

Spirit has a dizzying menu of bag fees that are tied to the point in your reservation when you "buy" the option of taking along a carry-on bag.

For example, it will cost $35 for a carry-on bag purchased when you make your reservation, $50 if you buy the option at an airport counter or kiosk, and $100 if you wait until you're at the gate. The airline also is raising some fees for checked baggage, too.

Spirit's rationale is that passengers can get "ultra low base fares" for airline tickets by paying fees only for "the extras they value," the website says. So I suppose if you "value" luggage -- carry-on or checked -- you pay up.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation required airline prices to be more transparent by including government taxes and fees in advertised airfares. But fees for baggage and other extras remain hidden, which can turn a real deal into a real gotcha.

NerdWallet has a free searchable tool that compares fees -- for ticket changes, baggage, etc. -- among major domestic airlines. And SmarterTravel offers a free download of Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide.

But back to Spirit. Are the low airfares really a good deal with all the potential fee add-ons? I'd love to hear from some Spirit fliers on that.

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