That's (Not) the Spirit: Airline Charging $45 for Carry-Ons

Here's hoping counter employees get hazard pay on Sunday

Ever since witnessing our first plane-delay meltdown as youngsters, we've been thankful not to work an airline check-in counter.

Today, more than ever, it's nice not to work Spirit's -- we can only imagine the horror of explaining to more than a quarter of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International's travelers it will now cost them $45 to take a carry-on bag aboard a flight.

That's the controversial new rule the Broward-based discout carrier is enforcing starting today, though passengers can pay in advance to reduce the charge to $30.

Small personal items like purses and diaper bags are free, so long as they fit underneath a seat.

The new carry-on fees are in addition to the schedule already in place for checked bags, which are $25 each. In other words, one checked suitcase and one carry-on, a pairing generally accepted free of charge by most airlines a few years ago, will now cost domestic Spirit travelers between $55 and $70 in addition to their tickets (those who pay for a $35 Spirit membership can reduce the fees to $35).

Scott McNish, a loyal Spirit flier, tried to apply a little perspective back when Spirit announced the new policy was coming back in April.

"Their pricing is so low compared to other airlines," he said, "you may still come out ahead even if you have to pay more for bags."

McNish has a point -- Spirit is currently offering base fares as low as $11.10 to those who pay the $35 membership fee, and $40.10 each way otherwise.

But the move is just the latest mystifying tactic employed by Spirit, as most travelers would rather pay a higher amount up front rather than feel nickel-and-dimed to death on their way to the gate.

Most travelers might also prefer not to be subjected to crude, rude, and corny ads, either, or to be stranded thanks to a strike, but that's Spirit for you -- and perhaps the risk of being overcharged, objectified, and left on the ground is part of its charm.

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