Spirit Starts Charging $45 Per Carry-On

Spirit Airlines passengers will now pay $30-$45 to store carry-on luggage one-way in the airline’s overhead bins. The carry-on fee, announced in April, went into effect this past Sunday.

This means that you now have to pay Spirit to store your luggage in the plane, check your bags, pick your own seat and drink coffee, soda or water. Needless to say, the add-on wasn’t embraced by the general public.

"Why pay for carry-on?,” Lori Gorzynski, a Spirit passenger flying out of Orlando, told USA Today.“They already charge you for your flight. You have to pay for your luggage, to get checked and carry-on, it's just another fee process."

Of course, the choice to pay or to travel without a carry on is entirely up to you and according to Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza, the new system is meant to empower consumers.

"It lets consumers decide what is important to them rather than the airline presuming what's important to them," CEO Ben Baldanza told ABC News. "Imagine if you went to McDonald's and the only things you could buy were the value meals."

If that analogy doesn’t sound suspect enough, there's the above video, posted on Spirit’s website, in which Baldanza is featured, speaking to us from inside one of the airline's overhead compartments. 

“We’re seeing increasing customer frustration due to overcrowded overhead bins resulting in long lines and flight delays,” he says. “At Spirit, we see this an opportunity to lower your fare even further … We’ve lowered our fares, we’ve lowered our check bag fees, and we’ve introduced a carry-on bag fee along with priority boarding so now when you board Spirit with your carry-on bag, you’ll find space right above your seat.”

Of course, Baldanza fails to mention that increasingly overcrowded overhead bins may have resulted from airlines’ now almost universal checked baggage fees. Spirit currently charges between $19 to $150 to check a bag, depending on the size and amount of bags. (Passengers can check up to three bags; the price to check a 50 lb bag online is $19.)

The new carry-on fee has some variations as well. Passengers who book their carry-on bag in advance are charged $30, while those who wait until they arrive at the boarding gate must pay $45. If you’re a member of Spirit’s special $9 Fare Club (an annual membership costs $39.95), you will only be charged $20 per bag. The Associated Press did acknowledge that Spirit had lowered prices to account for the fee, but did not say by how much exactly.

Don’t worry, though, you’re still allowed a small personal item (such as an umbrella, purse, briefcase or laptop computer So if you like to travel with, say, your wallet, make sure you put it in something small enough to fit beneath your seat.

Or, perhaps, fly on a different airline. Like Spirit says, the choice is entirely up to you.

What really allows Spirit to charge for water, coffee and carry-on luggage? Check out this MainStreet article on why we pay for convenience to hear some theories. We also have some more bad airline stories in this MainStreet article Why You Should Still Hate Airlines.”

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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