Spirit Airlines’ $45 carry-on fees and our government at work again

April 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm 8 comments

by Tony

In a recent blog posting, I recounted my issues with the carry-on bag rules for exiting Canada.   In case you missed it, I was forced to check a bag that I have carried on for years because the U.S. government reduced the size of an allowable carry on by two inches, making many previously acceptable bags oversized.

In the last few days there has been considerable discussion about Spirit Airlines announcement that they plan to charge $45 for a carry-on bag, and today I read that Congress is considering legislation to restrict Spirit from doing so.  Ben Cardin and Mary Landrieu said carry-ons often contain personal items that are “important for the safety and health” of travelers. These may include medication, personal care products and eyewear.   Additionally, Chuck Schumer (he’s our senior senator here in NY), pressed the Treasury Department Monday for administrative action to block carry-on charges, calling them a “slap in the face to travelers.”

When you read the Spirit rule a bit closer however, they will allow you to take a bag on free of charge provided it fits under the seat in front of you (dimensions 16”x14”x12”), and will also allow canes, walkers and other medically related devices to be carried on without a charge.   Now I haven’t done the complete analysis on this one yet, but I’m guessing that if your bag fits under the seat that would probably provide enough room for whatever medicine you are taking, unless you’re The King (that would be Elvis), who during his waning years was known to medicate quite extensively.

Since Chuck Schumer represents those who live in a state that borders Canada, maybe he should check the rules the TSA created there, because they seem to be quite similar.   I was prevented from taking on my bag because, while it surely fit in the overhead bin, it did not fit with their new dimension restrictions.

In my opinion, if an airline wants to charge for something like this, they should have that right.   As long as I have the right to freely choose which airlines I fly, I still have the ultimate power here.   So I say, let the free market and a person’s right to choose determine if this initiative is successful or not.

But that said, given the name of this blog is “Carrying On”; I would like to offer some free advice to our elected representatives.   Why don’t you just pass a law that names Spirit as the only airline that is allowed to fly from Canada to the US?   Given they have the same baggage policy that the TSA has enacted over that routing, this would seem to create a perfect alignment.

Let us know what you think.

Entry filed under: Ancillary Fees, Business Travel, Security, TAP, Tony's thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

To regulate, or deregulate, that is the question Green M&M’s and a ton of industry events

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Minton  |  April 16, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Just read an article in Kiplinger’s regarding the Spirit Airline fee. Here is their closing advice.

    “If you frequently fly on Spirit Airlines — or if other airlines start charging for carry-ons — consider shipping your luggage to save money. In some cases it costs less to send your bags to your destination by FedEx or UPS.”

    You going to ship your bowling bag Tony?

    Reply
    • 2. Tony D  |  April 16, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      Alan,

      It always amazes me how quickly alternatives pop up, especially in our industry, but no way I’m letting my 16 pounder out of my sight :-).

      TD

      Reply
  • 3. Bill Patient  |  April 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Good post Tony. Agree that the TSA change in Canada is a bit silly…

    On a more serious note, though…I think what needs to be defined is the expected level of service contained in the fare so that 1) the traveler can set a realistic expectation and 2) appropriate taxes can be charged.

    I’m not sure about the “slap in the face” comment…but it certainly seems like the ancillary fee structure is being used to avoid taxes…keeping the fares artificially lower.

    Plus I’d certainly like to think that once on the plane, my fare has granted me the capacity to go to the bathroom without keeping a roll of quarters in my pocket (which will make getting through security a hassle).

    Reply
    • 4. Tony D  |  April 20, 2010 at 3:15 pm

      Bill,

      I hear you on the roll of quarters and lets hope it doesn’t come to that. On the tax question, i was troubled at how quickly the “we’ll tax it” threat was used here. I don’t have to tell you how heavily this industry is taxed and while I reserve the right to think an airline is free to charge what they want for a service, the last thing I think we need is another tax on top of that. More to play out on this one I’m sure.

      TD

      Reply
  • 5. Caro Cook  |  April 22, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Tony,

    I am with you – let the free market play out. If I don’t want to pay the carry-on luggage charge then I won’t choose that airline. I can’t understand why the Government would want to waste time on such a small issue when we have larger domestic issues that need to be addressed. The Government can’t seem to keep its hands out of this business.

    On a more serious note, if you eliminate all the hair products you use – you could easily get your bag size down by 2 inches.

    Reply
    • 6. Tony D  |  April 22, 2010 at 6:12 am

      Minor correction Caro, my hair care products are not the issue, it’s more the lavender scented body wash and exfoliating night cream :-).

      Reply
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    • 8. Tony D'Astolfo  |  June 7, 2013 at 5:10 am

      Glad you enjoyed it

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