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Spirit Airlines Says Happy New Year, Hikes Baggage Fees

January 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM | by | ()

Go ahead and file this story wherever you keep the rest of the world's thoroughly unsurprising - but still kind of obnoxious - news. Spirit Airlines, because it is Spirit Airlines, rang in the new year by tinkering with its baggage fees. And by "tinkering" of course we mean "predictably increasing." Most of the fees they have, according to the Los Angeles Times, will increase by at least $1.

Remember, however, that this is the airline that has 24 different ways to combine fees, depending on circumstance, size, location, and presumably your astrological symbol. So when they decide to play around with their fee structure, reverse engineering what happened requires not just a degree in quantum mechanics but also a great deal of luck.

As near as we can tell, carry-on bags now cost $26 assuming you also remember to pay for them at the time of booking. If you pay for them when you're checking in online then it's $45, unless you're a member of the $9 Fare Club then it's $36. Checked bags are $21 and $31 for the first and second respectively bags. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Now. This hike is annoying, but maybe it's justified. Late last year the Atlantic published a video that more or less defended airline fees. The argument is that they increase consumers' choices by allowing them to pay for only what they want. This move is the standard one made by fee-happy airlines like Spirit and Ryanair, and it does have a certain straightforward appeal. If we're not going to eat a meal on our flight, why should we have the cost of a meal bundled into our ticket price, which is how things used to be?

We've embedded the video below so you can take a look. Listen to it and see if you find it compelling.

Except - except - that's not really a good defense of how Spirit and Ryanair go about their fees. Instead these two airlines are somewhat notorious for having insanely confusing ways of charging travelers, almost as if they're trying to trip up their own customers. Twenty-four different baggage fees, is what Spirit has. It's difficult to see how tinnkering with them will empower the consumer. It might do a lot of things, but empowering the consumer is not likely to be among them.

Anyway, here's the video:

[Photo: A319321 / Wiki Commons]

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