Spirit Airlines

How to Minimize Spirit Airline Baggage Fees

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How to Minimize Spirit Airline Baggage Fees

Spirit Airline Baggage FeesEvery time I fly on Spirit (or am just there to buy tickets) I inevitably see someone who is completely unaware of the baggage fees on Spirit Airlines.

First and foremost, they charge for carry-ons. You are allowed to bring one “personal item” free of charge. This can be a backpack, a laptop bag, a duffel bag, or just your purse. Be aware though, if you are carrying a backpack and a purse, you will be charged a fee for a carry-on bag. Ladies, if you absolutely need your purse with you, throw it in your other personal bag so you won’t be charged for a carry-on.

Spirit Airline Baggage FeesThey charge more for carry-ons than for checked bags. I didn’t understand why they did this until recently. Part of the reason Spirit can charge so much less is the short time they are at the gates between flights. It takes a lot less time for people to get on and off they aircraft if every single person doesn’t have a big carry-on bag with them.

If there are 3-4 of us flying and we’re going somewhere for longer than just a weekend I usually pack one checked suitcase for us to share and then we each carry one “personal item” with us on the plane. If we’re going somewhere only for a weekend we can usually get away with one personal item per person for the entire trip and we don’t check a bag or a carry-on. Even if you only need a carry-on size bag, I still recommend checking it since it is cheaper to do that. The only time I would recommend paying extra for the carry-on is if you know you’re going to be short on time and don’t want to waste time checking a bag at the ticket counter. The other advantage is you will be in the first boarding group if you have a pre-paid carry-on bag.

If you are going to need a checked bag or a carry-on, it’s cheapest to buy it online more than 24 hours before your flight leaves. Once you check into your flight the price goes up $10 per bag per way. Once you get to the ticket counter at the airport the price goes up another $5 per bag, and once you’re at the gate it will cost you $100 a bag no matter what. Make sure when you pay for you bags online that you pay for both your flight out and your return trip.

Spirit Airline Baggage FeesThere are two lines at the ticket counter if you need to check a bag. One is the “Fast Bag Drop” line and the other is the “Full Service” line. The “Fast Bag Drop” line is if you paid for you bag online before you got to the airport. If you haven’t paid for your bags yet you’ll have to go through the “Full Service” line.

Another important thing to remember is there is a 40 lb weight limit for a checked bag. There is no weight limit for a carry-on a personal item. If we are checking a bag I tend to load all our personal bags with our heavier items to make sure our checked bag meets the 40 lb weight requirement.

No airline in the U.S. can charge you to check your child’s car or booster seat. Spirit Airlines also lets you check your child’s stroller at the gate or the ticket counter free of charge. It’s your choice if you want to wait in line to check them at the ticket counter, or gate check them, but both are free of charge (one seat and stroller per child). If your child is a lap-child and does not have their own ticket you will have to check the car seat at the ticket counter (it’s still free of charge though)!

Even if you don’t plan on taking advantage of $9 fares, the savings in baggage fees may be why you want to consider being a $9 Fare Club member. It depends on how often you think you’ll be flying on Spirit over the next 365 days, and how many bags you think you’ll be checking. Everyone on your reservation is eligible for the $9 rate as long as one person is a member.

Spirit is doing a new thing where they increase the price of bags by $2 if you purchased tickets for a holiday season after a certain date.

So if you’re planning on traveling on Spirit this year between December 18, 2014 – January 5, 2015 and you haven’t bought your tickets yet, your bag will cost you $2 more than the prices listed above.

The exception to this is $9 fare club members. Their cost for bags will remain the same. It is normally $9 cheaper than the non-club member so this would make it $11 cheaper per bag. Keep in mind this is only for bags purchased online.

A normal flight saves $18 round-trip per bag if you’re a $9 Fare Club member and if you’re traveling over the holidays it will save you $22 round-trip per bag.

The baggage fees on Spirit seems to be where I see people get the biggest “sticker shock” of their “cheap flight”. We have learned to incorporate baggage fees into our total cost of our flight when we’re price comparing with other airlines. Even with checking a bag, flying on Spirit is almost always is still the cheaper option for us.

For more on Spirit Airlines, check out Tiff’s comprehensive guide!

Everything You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines



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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.


  1. Dorothy Sweeten

    April 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

    I am headed for a cruise on Sunday, 5/24. I was happy when I scheduled the flight to Fort Lauderdaly. When I went to pack my things I realized that it definitely would not work with 40 lbs. my 26 inch suitcase is not even full. I am a small person so my clothes are light. My backpack is now filled with 2 pair of shoes, my make up, jewlelry. Spirit definitely misrepresents itself by saying flights are cheaper. American & Frontier have a 50 lb weight limit & do not charge for checked bags. The extra scrambling to balance the suitcase just added to the stress. I will not be traveling Spirit again & will share with my friends that if they want a stress free time, do not use Spirit.

    • Tiff

      April 23, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      I hope you have a great cruise! We just got back from one ourselves.

      Yes, Spirit is only cheaper if you’re willing to jump threw a lot of hoops to save money. It’s usually more of a savings if you’re traveling with a larger group of people. If it’s only one or two people traveling it’s not always a savings or at least not enough of one to be worth all the effort. I’ve sometimes gotten round-trip tickets from DFW to Orlando for $75 per person (including our luggage fees). In cases when the price is the same (or close to it) I tend to go with another carrier. I only suggest flying on Spirit when it’s a substantial savings provided the person 1) understands Spirit’s pricing and fees and 2) is willing to do a bit more work to fly on them in order to save money. Otherwise they could easily end up costing you the same, or more money than another airline.


    March 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I am flying Spirit to Fort Lauderdale from Tampa. If I use a backpack only I understand that I do not have to pay a baggage fee provided it is under 40 lbs. and is of required size. Am I allowed to take sunscreen or other creams in the backpack which will be put under the seat?

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