Money Matters - Simplified

Spirit Airlines to charge travelers for carry-on luggage

If the air travelers decide to pay online in advance, they will be charged $30 to place their bags in the overhead bin, but if they wait till they check in, they will have to pay $45.

After becoming the first airline in the nation to charge passengers fees for checked bags and beverages three years ago, Spirit Airlines has again taken the lead as it will soon charge air travelers for carry-on bags.

Spirit Airlines, the low cost airline, will be levying $45 as fee for the carry-on bags, which are too big to be placed under the seat, starting this August.

In a statement, Ben Baldanza, the airlines’ the chief executive, said, “Nobody brings their package to FedEx or U.P.S. and expects them to ship it for free.”

If the air travelers decide to pay online in advance, they will be charged $30 to place their bags in the overhead bin, but if they wait till they check-in, they will have to pay $45.

Other airlines to charge travelers?
Though there are many airlines that levy fees for checked luggage, they do not charge for carry-on luggage.

Spirit is the only airline that has decided to charge travelers on carry-on bags.

Till now, none of the airlines in the nation have said that they would follow suit, and it is not clear whether other airlines in the nation will also slap a fee on the travelers for carry-on bags.

Brad Hawkins, the spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said, “Let me say that our competitors continue to distinguish themselves apart from Southwest Airlines and make it very easy for this company to maintain the integrity of the bags fly free message.”

Due to increase in bag fees, air travelers are now checking fewer bags. As a result, airlines are losing fewer bags, baggage handlers are suffering fewer injuries, and airlines have space available to carry cargo.

But Rick Seaney of FareCompare.com believes, "Airlines are sort of like dominoes. If one of them runs out there and does it, especially a bigger one, the other ones sort of fall in behind."

Implications of levying bag fees
The bag fees levied by the airlines have increased over the years.

The total bag fees collected has also increased. It has risen from $464 million in 2007 to nearly $2 billion in the first nine months of 2009, according to the Transportation Department.

Due to increase in bag fees, air travelers are now checking fewer bags. As a result, airlines are losing fewer bags, baggage handlers are suffering fewer injuries, and airlines have space available to carry cargo.

As per the report released by SITA, due to the increase in bag fees, every one in four passengers did not check bags in 2008.

Also, the drastic decrease in the number of bags checked last year resulted in less number of bags being mishandled. As a result, the airline industry in the nation saved nearly $94 million.