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Question of the Week: Will other carriers follow Spirit Airlines and start charging for carry-on bags?

Dear Editors,

I’ve been reading about the new carry-on bag fee that Spirit Airlines will start charging their customers. At first, I wasn’t really concerned because I don’t fly them, but then I started reading about other airlines doing the same thing. What do you think?


Photo by Willamor Media.

Hi Evelyn,

I’ve spent the past week conducting media interviews on the new Spirit Airlines carry-on bag fee and was asked whether or not other airlines will follow in every single interview. My response to the question is perhaps a bit unsatisfactory: We’ll have to wait and see.

For the time being, the other airlines are going to sit back and watch the reaction to this new fee. For the past couple of years, airlines have made it pretty clear that they’re charting their way to an a la carte pricing model, but the carry-on bag fee to be imposed by Spirit Airlines really takes the cake.

Major airlines risk alienating a lot of high paying customers if they start charging for carry-on luggage, and they know this. The biggest difference between Spirit and major carriers is that Spirit relies on the leisure traveler looking for ultra low fares, and the other airlines rely more heavily on the big spending business traveler. No one is going to want to be the first major carrier to start charging for carry-on luggage, leaving travelers with no option but to pay for a bag.

The advice I’ve been telling travelers is simple: Do the math. If a low fare is what you’re after, you may still get that with Spirit even after you add in that baggage fee. But know what you’re getting – a no frills flying experience. If you don’t believe in the policy, don’t fly them. Your dollars will talk.

Happy Travels,


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My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!


Cabo San Lucas Hotels

First of all airline business is not a very profitable business nowadays, we’ve seen several big airlines gone bankrupt. The reason why there are so many different kinds of charges is because the airline try to be fair, you don’t pay for services you don’t use. If you don’t have bags to check, you don’t have to pay for it. If you’re hungry, buy your own food.
If you don’t have carry on bags, you don’t need to pay extra which I think is a good idea because with checked bag fees, most passengers are pushing the limit in bringing so much carry on and yet gate agents seldom interfere. We will wait and see if it’s implemented easily, there is the question of how big a free carry on personal item should be, the one that fits under the seat.

Jennifer Gaines

You are right that airlines are charging these fees to generate extra revenue, which they need right now. The biggest problem with this new fee by Spirit Airlines is that travelers will not have a choice when it comes to paying a baggage fee. On other airlines, you can opt to carry-on to save some cash. Time will tell how customers will react to this.

Cherokee County GA Real Estate

I agree with your comment that when flying a ‘no frills’ you shouldn’t expect any perks. And in the true American way, the customer will ultimately decide if this new fee will live or die.

Park Hotel

I really hope other airlines do not start charging for carry on.


As airlines squeeze the profit margins more and more, we might be seeing more of this, particularly on low-cost travel. Ryanair is going to phase in charging £1 or €1 for the use of their on board toilet facilities on short haul flights.

Susan Kennedy

Demand to be treated with respect as a passenger. Times are tough in the aviation industry now, but surely that means carriers need to provide better customer service and value for money to keep themselves afloat.

Thomas Strenge

Why do politicians think that consumers are always helpless? Doesn’t business have to earn our dollars? And if we don’t like them, how can a business survive? (caveat: unpopular businesses can survive thanks to government bailouts) I vote for consumer democracy and letting Americans decide for themselves if Spirit Airlines deserves our money! By the way, the old term for consumer democracy was free (from government interference) market.

Jennifer Gaines

Thomas – You must be referring to the LaHood and Schumer attempt to reverse this policy. Politicians don’t really think that customers are helpless. They see this as an opportunity to swoop in and act like super heroes, so they can say “look at everything I’ve done for you.” They are simply opportunistic. I agree that politicians should zip it and consumers should speak out – either by handing over the cash to Spirit Airlines or spending it elsewhere.

Single Mom

Not happy about this, have posted an article addressing the issue on my blog, righteous bitching on blogspot.

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