What does Spirit Airlines charge for that’s not in the ticket price?

If you’ve ever searched for airfare, you’ve probably come across Spirit Airlines, a low-cost, low-frills carriers that has astronomically cheap airfares. The reason they have such low prices is because of their optional add-on services, that in many cases, often comes near, or equal to that of their legacy counterparts such as American, United and Delta.

Many folks don’t realize what Spirit charges for, and how much it differs from a mainline carrier, so I thought it worthwhile to explain their charges so you’re aware before booking your next ticket. Spirit’s mentality is that you shouldn’t pay for what you aren’t using.

For the purposes of these calculations, I’ll assume one is not a member of their $9 Fare Club, which gets you reduced fees, but charges an annual membership. 

Carry-On Bags

Yes, Spirit goes so far as to charge you for carry-on bags. If you’re booking a ticket on them, you basically need to either account for this or a checked bag in your price calculations, since I’m guessing none of you are traveling to your destinations without at least a change of underwear. 🙂 If you purchase your carry-on bag during online booking, it will “only” set you back $35. If you purchase later, the price goes up.

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Checked Bags

Like their carry-on fees, you’ll also pay for bags checked in the hold. For one bag, that’s as “little” as $30. It’s cheaper to check one bag, than it is to carry-on one bag, funny enough.

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Selecting Seats

If you want to sit in a certain spot (maybe an aisle up front, or a window seat in the rear, perhaps), you’ll have to pay up for it. Want to sit next to a friend or family member? Pay up. You pay per seat, and it’s dependent on the flight length as to what the selection price will be. You can even select one of their “Big Front Seats” which is similar to a typical domestic First seat, without the meal service and added extras.

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If you want to have priority boarding, it’s $5.99 per segment.

Printed Boarding Pass

If you want to print your boarding pass at home, that’s free, however if you want to print it at an airport kiosk, that’s an additional $2. Want to have an airport agent print it? Add $10 to your ticket.

Booking Fees

  • You’ll pay $15 to book over the phone.
  • You’ll pay $5 for a group booking.
  • If you want to standby for an earlier flight, that’s $25.
  • Award medications and re-deposits are $110.
  • If you change your itinerary online, it’s $110, while if an airport agent does it, it’s $120. This is almost half what legacy carriers charge, FYI.

Bottom Line

With all of this, it’s hard to imagine that Spirit comes in any cheaper than other airlines. That said, many swear by Spirit (I don’t). It’s worthwhile to understand their fee structure, though, before you assume Spirit will be cheaper than any other ticket you can find.

What do you think about Spirit’s fees? Do you fly them? Do you mind the fees?

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Comments

  1. Chuck says

    you forgot to mention that they also charge for purchasing a ticket online! Totally avoidable of course if you want to go to the airport and buy it in person!

  2. says

    I flew Spirit last August on their inaugural flight from MCI and couldn’t have been happier with the experience.

    Our A319 seemed brand new and was surprisingly clean inside. Flight crew was very friendly and happy to be working. I only brought a backpack on the overnight trip, so no carry-on bag fees were charged. My only buy-up was the big front seat and it was comfortable for the 55~ minute flight.

    I’d definitely fly them again if I had to.. Flying Allegiant in November.

  3. says

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation here in this post. Yes, Spirit does charge for carry-on bags. However, each ticket comes with one personal item the size of an average backpack or smaller. I have flown spirit for a number of weekend adventures with just a back pack and have been just fine; nor have I ever been charged for a carry on bag. Also, printing tickets at an airport Kiosk does not cost $2, unless this has changed in the last month. I have also found that if you are planning on traveling with a group of people and you all buy a ticket on the same reservation you are always seated together. This has been successful 8/8 Spirit flights.

    I am not saying Spirit is the best airline out there, they certainly are not. But while reporting on Spirit, I think there should be a sense of fairness with the airline as well as accuracy within articles.

  4. Levey says

    It took me a few flights to figure things out, but now I fly spirit DEN/ORD regularly. If it’s just a 3 day trip, I carry a medium size duffle and no charge. Sometimes I bring the family and I load one bag and check it. Flights are on time and plane is clean. I believe I have saved hundereds of Dollars over the last 6 months.

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