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Airline to charge for carry-on bags

12:30 P.M. UPDATE: Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said having fewer carry-on bags will help empty the plane faster. He said the idea is to get customers to pay for individual things they want, while keeping the base fare low.

"The beauty of it is they will do what they think is best for them and will now have the choice," he said.

Spirit is based in Miramar, Fla., and most of its routes run through Fort Lauderdale to Latin America.

Even though it's a minor player, bigger airlines are likely to watch to see whether customers are willing to pay for carry-ons. None of the major carriers made any immediate changes to their fees on Tuesday morning.

Fees for checking bags on the big U.S. carriers got started in 2008. At first, many travelers thought they wouldn't last. But now all the big airlines except Southwest and JetBlue charge to check a bag on domestic flights.

-- Associated Press

Original post: If you're flying Spirit Airlines out of Reagan National Airport, you may want to pack lighter starting Aug. 1. The airline, which flies between National and Fort Lauderdale and San Juan, plans to begin charging passengers for carry-on baggage. Spirit will charge you as much as $45 each way if you want to put luggage in an overhead bin.

According to the Spirit Airlines Web site, the new policy will take effect Aug. 1. The Web site says that the non-refundable fees will apply for baggage that won't fit under the seat in front of you, so you still get one "personal item." That item can't measure more than 16 x 14 x 12.

There are also excluded items, such as diaper bags, car seats and strollers and umbrellas.

If you're a member of the airline's discount club, you'll pay $20 to carry on luggage, such as a standard roll-aboard. You'll pay $30 if you're a nonmember and check in before you get to the gate. At the gate, you'll get hit with a $45 fee. Those charges are in addition to any fees you would pay to check luggage.

Let's hope other airlines don't follow suit. What do you think? Let us know by e-mailing

-- Staff reports

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By Michael Bolden  |  April 6, 2010; 12:16 PM ET
 | Tags: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport  
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This is absurd. Granted, some people bring too much in to the cabin, but everyone should be allowed one bag free of charge. When I travel, whether it's for 6 days or 6 months, my bag is light, small, and made of thin nylon. It's not one of those wheeled monstracities. This fee thing is getting out of hand. If the airline would simply charge what it actually costs to operate the aircraft, all of this could be avoided. Airlines now are simply buses with wings.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 6, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Just one more reason to take the train.

Posted by: VaLGaL | April 6, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

When checking a bag was free, I used to check my bag. By checking, I didn't have to worry about fitting the maximum size for carry ons and didn't have to carry and keep track of my bag in airports. When airlines started charging to check bags I boycotted by carrying it on. Any airline that charges me to even BRING baggage will NEVER get my business.

Posted by: jcflack1 | April 6, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

So we're charged for checked bags and now charged for carry-on bags. I loathe airlines. LOATHE! Just raise the base cost so we can see what the actual charge to fly is! ARGH!

Posted by: tspack | April 6, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow not even Ryanair does this. Way to be an industry leader.

This would be tolerable if their fares were at Ryanair levels.

Posted by: mikedavisfree | April 6, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Its about time -- this stupidity with everyone struggling huge "carry on's" into a bin over someone elses head takes away a place that ought to hold a jacket and dramatically increases boarding and exit time. Last week a guy who got on close to the front on Southwest literally held the entire plane from boarding while he hogged the aisle putting his wife and his duffle into the overhead -- the place was late taking off.

No problem -- my wife and I had great seats -- until a 350 pound fellow wedged himself into his seat and made for an uncomfortable flight. So if we are going to charge for the affront of carrying luggage on a journey, how about a heft fee and a special section for those who overflow their seats?

I remember back in the day when "carry on" was a suit bag that the flight attendents would unfold and hang in a coat closet built into most airplane interiors -- on the off chance that you wanted to get to a meeting not looking like you were the loser of an ultimate fighting championship.

Posted by: tommariner | April 6, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The other day I was flying to Mexico on an American based airline, it's a wonder the passengers didn't bring goats and chickens on the plane. Here is what has happened, to save the 25 bucks or whatever it is, people now have a purse the size of a suitcase, a backpack that is really a suitcase, and a bag on wheels that almost does not fit in the overhead because it's so fully packed. I don't blame them, makes sense in a way. First the airlines have to follow their own rules, bags that cannot fit through a measurement contraption, should not be allowed on board. A suit case with straps and mounted on the back should be counted as a suitcase, not a backpack. The airlines have created the problem, they should fix it. Another idea is this, charge for the carry on, let everything else go in the luggage compartment for free.
That would at least make travel easier for the public. I myself would feel better if the security at the gate is focused on the individuals more so then the luggage they are bringing aboard. Can you imagine a bus line allowing the number of bags to be brought aboard a bus as the airlines do.

Posted by: larrymck | April 6, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

tommariner: "held the entire plane from boarding while he hogged the aisle putting his wife and his duffle into the overhead."

I imagine the wife screaming her objections about being stuffed into the overhead held things up plenty, too.

Seriously, though, I agree that multiple huge bags as carry on is a hassle. The airlines, however, encouraged it when they started charging for checking bags. I wouldn't object if it were switched (charging for carry-ons but not checked), but charging for both is just stupid. Just raise the fare so we can find the best option without being surprised at the gate!

Posted by: tspack | April 6, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Spirit is the worst. If they oversell they make no effort to find you a suitable replacement flight -- just hand you a check for twice what you paid and kick you out. Well, that's nice and dandy but that won't get you a ticket on another airline since there walk up fare will be much higher than 2x what you paid months ago to spirit.

Posted by: wpjunk | April 6, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

IT'S ABOUT TIME! The second the wheels touch the floor it's not a "carry on." Let the people who hold up the flight pay, and give a break to those who check their bags before they get in everyone else's way.

Posted by: scottilla | April 6, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

IT'S ABOUT TIME! The second the wheels touch the floor it's not a "carry on." Let the people who hold up the flight pay, and give a break to those who check their bags before they get in everyone else's way.

Posted by: scottilla | April 6, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. My last several flights, I've just had a bag (that -- barely, but still does, look Mr. Flight Attendant I will show you if you don't believe me -- fits under the seat in front of me, even on puddle-jumpers) and my (8x8x4") purse. They're already charging me in hassle that it takes to make sure all my stuff 1) complies with TSA guidelines by having my toiletries fitting into a zip lock baggie at the top of the bag, and 2) makes sure to have all my stuff fit in this under-the-seat bag so as to avoid getting charged something insane just to check my luggage.

And now you're going to charge me for the pleasure of compacting my stuff in this manner and the privilege of taking it on the plane? Come on...if I could fly without any luggage at all, believe me I would. Unfortunately I am not of the means to be able to buy new clothes at every port and then donate them to Goodwill before I go home. ;)

Posted by: | April 6, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Carry-ons don't slow down emptying the plane--the plane's own design takes care of that. How about opening the back door?

Posted by: jiji1 | April 6, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I flew Spirit to Ft Lauderdale last September based upon the fact that the airfare was a bargain and didn't know about the "fees" charged until after the ticket was purchased. Now they're charging up to $45 for carry-on baggage? That's ridiculous. I was dismayed at Spirit after my flight, now I can guarantee that I will never fly with them again.

Posted by: flipjp | April 6, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I call this the TicketMaster school of business. Rather than charging an appropriate amount of money for its services, the company invents new add on fees. A $100 airline or concert ticket becomes a $150 after all the fees are added.

One could argue the logic of the fees since the company wants to discourage bags on flights but this policy seems tone deaf to the effect on customers. Many/most customers feel like it is a ripoff (the fee is out of proportion of the cost of providing the service) and that the company is nickel and diming them. Making your customers hate you is absolutely Comcastic.

Posted by: KS100H | April 6, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

This just may turn out to be one of the worst business decisions in history.

Posted by: pikamander007 | April 7, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

I really hope that Spirit has a lot of empty flights taking off in August. That equates to $90 surcharge roundtrip. The attitude of their spokesperson makes it even worse - Bring Less, Pay Less - well what does that mean - bring nothing? More than likely if you take a 3 or 4 day flight with nothing but a purse you're likely to go through some extra level of security. You can't win. Between the Feds and the airlines, flying becomes a much more abysmal experience with every passing year.

Posted by: loved1 | April 7, 2010 6:09 AM | Report abuse

The rules should be changed that carry-on bags must be actually carried and the two carry-ons perperson should be enforced. If folks at the gate see passengers pulling their wheeled-luggage, they should demand it be gate checked and charged the regular bag check fee. And yes - a purse is a carry-on. Too many times I've seen a woman get on a plane with a purse larger than my briefcase, a rolling suitcase, and a laptop bag.

Posted by: justanotherguy | April 7, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

how are they gonna enforce it? if you can put it under the seat it's free. is there going to be a stewardess watching every passenger for a receipt to put it up. you people complaining about the extra time to load it up, you just made it even longer by charging and checking. what's gonna stop someone by not "declaring" a carry on and bringing it on anyways? or even duplicating the tags to show it as paid?

Posted by: MNMNT | April 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Just when I thought flying couldn't get any worse. I used to love flying, but it becomes more of a hassle every time.

They're not charging for diaper bags, so what's to stop people without kids from carrying huge diaper bags?

Thanks to the liquids rule (why hasn't that been changed?), I'd rather check a bag with shampoo and toothpaste than buy them at my destination. I travel light, but I still carry 1 small suitcase for a week-long trip. When airlines started charging for 1 checked bag, I stopped checking bags.

Spirit doesn't fly my way, but ideas like this tend to catch on quickly. Right now, I fly JetBlue for a variety of reasons, including the ability to check a bag for free. If they start checking for carry-ons, I'm going to drive or ride Amtrak or Greyhound everywhere.

Posted by: LizBetty | April 8, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

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