So far, the checked baggage increase for 2014 announced by Spirit Airlines has not been matched by other airlines, including other budget carriers. But 2014 is still young.
Fees are a major source of revenue for airlines. According to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 15 U.S. airlines took in nearly $4 Billion in fees in the first nine months of 2013 – $2.6 billion from baggage fees and $2.1 billion from reservation-change fees. So airline fees are not going away.
Fees are highest for international flights – as much as $400 to change a reservation, according to USA Today.
Spirit Airlines has increased checked baggage costs just $1, so it’s unlikely many passengers will even notice, or complain. The real complaint should be that the carrier 72 different fees in eight different categories, including a charge of at least $26 for a carry-on bag.
The cheapest baggage fees are to pay online when your book your flight. You pay a hefty penalty if you wait until you are at the airport, checking in – $21 for the first bag checked online when you book your flight, $31 for the second, and $100 for those same bags paid for at the airport.
Baggage fees are a major part of Spirit’s bottom line. According to the Los Angeles Times, Florida-based Spirit Airlines generated 38.5% of its revenue from extra fees in 2012, the most of any domestic carrier.
JetBlue still lets you check one bag free, and none of the major carriers – Delta, American, United – or almost-majors like Virgin America – charge for carry-on baggage.
Buyer Beware: Always consider hidden fees when you book tickets. You might find that the bargain airline with ridiculous extra charges winds up being more expensive than another airline.