Spirit Airlines

Spirit Increases “Passenger Usage Fee”

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Just a quick craniums up for everyone; I was looking at flights today and Spirit has increased the “Passenger Usage Fee” (the fee they charge to book your tickets online) from $16.99 per person per way to $17.99 per person per way. It’s only an increase of $2 per person per round-trip flight, but it’s still good information to know.

For those who have asked where do you find the “Passenger Usage Fee”? You can find it in several places, but it’s not always obvious.

The first place you’ll find it is when you’re selecting your flights. There is a question mark next to the “Base Fare” when selecting your flight. If you left click on it a pop-up comes up and it breaks out the cost of your fare. This is how the pop-up looks:

spirit airlines passenger usage feeFlight                                                                     $0.01
Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations   $1.86
Passenger Usage Fee                                           $17.99

Base Fare Total                                                     $19.86

So you won’t see a “Passenger Usage Fee” when you get to the final portion of paying for your flight online because it’s already included in your “Base Fare” price.

Once you select your flights and chose whether or not your want a hotel and/or rental car you will see your total purchase price. It’ll be broken up into your “flight price” and the “government’s cut” (taxes and fees). If you left click on “more info” in your “flight price” there you will see the “passenger usage fee”. It includes the exact same things as the base fare: the total cost of the flight, unintended consequences of DOT regulations, and the passenger usage fee.

This time it will include the total for all passengers and segments. So if one person is flying round-trip the price will be $35.98. If two people are flying round-trip it will be $71.96, etc.

Again, you have to left click on “more info” to see how this is broken out.

You will be able to see this one last time right before you purchase your tickets. You left click on “more info” next to your “flight price” and you’ll see the total cost broken out there.

Spirit Fees

Once again, the “Passenger Usage Fee” has gone up from $16.99 per person per way to $17.99 per person per way. The only way to avoid this fee is to purchase your tickets at the airport. If you are a $9 fare club member you cannot get $9 fare club prices at the airport, so it’s best to check if it’s cheaper to pay the passenger usage fee and buy the tickets online, or if it’s cheaper to avoid the fee and pay the regular price for the tickets at the airport.

The “Passenger Usage Fee” is not obvious on the website, but it can be found in three places if you click on “more info”. When you select your flights, your total purchase price before selecting additional options (luggage, seats, etc.) and your total purchase price after you select your additional options right before you purchase your tickets.

Hope this clears up any confusion about the Passenger Usage Fee. Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments if I didn’t explain something as well as I could have.


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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. Chris

    October 31, 2014 at 12:17 am

    If I’m allowed to curse: fuck those guys. “Unintended consequences of DOT regulation?” Welcome to a complex system.

  2. DaninMCI

    October 31, 2014 at 3:33 am

    I like spirit but disappointed in the over the top fees. Like they charge a ton for checked bags, which I do, but also limit them to 35 pounds with out addl fees at check-in.

  3. Bethany Bindeman

    June 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Just found your website. We had to book flight for a funeral. It has helped a ton with our Spirit flight plans with a baby. We just went to the airport today to purchase our tickets. Online it would have costs us $432 but bought at the airport for $350.40 for two adults and 1 checked bag roundtrip!

    • Tiff

      June 21, 2015 at 1:10 am

      That’s great! I’m glad these posts help people. I know Spirit’s not for everyone, but for those who need cheap flights I hope it’s useful.

  4. Maria

    August 27, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Tiff, I am trying to book a trip to las vegas. They have tickets for 35 each way and i looked at the breakdown and base fare is .02 and dot is $4 the rest is taxes and passanger usage fee. Does that mean the ticket will be around 20 if i book at the airport?

    • Jess

      May 5, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Tiff, I’m wondering the same thing. I booked a flight from OAK to LAX and the trip total was $76.40. The base fare was also $47.30 (only $0.02 for the flight, $9.30 for DOT, and $37.98 for the passenger usage fee). And the govt’s cut was $29.10. If I purchased at the airport would I have gotten this flight for $38.42 total?

  5. Joey

    December 30, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Tiff- If I purchase tickets ahead of time at the airport, can I also pay for checked baggage at that time, as well? Or do I have to wait until check-in? Am I still able to purchase checked baggage at a discounted rate if I but my tickets at the airport? Thanks.

    • Tiff

      January 20, 2016 at 3:55 am

      Spirit has slightly changed their policy here.

      You now get a $5 price break if you purchase your bag at the same time you buy your ticket online. So you’ll have to pay the $17.99 usage fee (per ticket each way), but subtract $5 (each way) per bag you plan to purchase.

      If you decide to buy your tickets at the airport, it’s still cheaper to purchase bags online before you check in, than at the airport when you purchase your ticket. Weird, I know.

      Since we normally pay for tickets for multiple people it still saves us substantially more money to buy our tickets at the airport and pay a little extra for any bags we intend to check. But I can see where for one person the trip to the airport may not be worth the cost savings.

      Good luck!

      • Joey

        January 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

        Ended up buying the tickets ($90/ea RT MSP>TPA) at the airport several weeks back, and the checked bag online before check-in. Saved $74 by buying the tickets on site, and paid $70 online for a round-trip checked bag. Well worth the trip to the airport! Thanks for the advice.

  6. Francine

    January 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    This is very helpful! I have a question though… Can I purchase my tickets in person and then somehow go online and purchase my bags to get the online discount? Also, are you still able to check in online if you purchase your tickets ahead at the airport? Thank you so much in advance!

    • Francine

      January 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Oh sorry. I see now in your previous reply that you can and it is still cheaper to do it that way than at the desk. So I’m just wondering about my second question only.

      • Joey

        January 28, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        Yes, you definitely ARE still able to check in online for free if you purchase your tickets at the airport.

      • Tiff

        February 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm

        Joey is correct, you can still check-in online even if you purchase tickets at the airport. And, as you saw, you can still purchase your bags online as well. Spirit has thrown a new wrench in the system, they now have a discount if you purchase your bags online AT THE SAME TIME you purchase your tickets online. It’s a $5 savings (each way) if you purchase your bags at the time you purchase online tickets. The question is, does that change whether it’s better to purchase tickets online or at the airport?

        Since I usually purchase 3-4 tickets each way and only one bag each way; it still makes sense for me to purchase tickets at the airport. If there are three of us flying, with a $17.99 “passenger usage fee” per person each way, assume we check one bag, so it’s an additional cost of $5 each way, we still save $97.94 by purchasing our tickets at the airport. Even if there were four of us flying, and we were checking two bags, the savings for us would come to $123.92, so it’s still worth it (for me) to purchase tickets at the airport.

        If it’s only one person flying, and you still need a bag (whether a carry-on or a checked bag), that savings is now $25.98 to purchase your tickets at the airport. It’s up to you if that’s worth the time and effort (and the cost of parking, gas, etc) to go to the airport to purchase your tickets or not.

        Hope this isn’t information overload. =) Good luck!

        • dfasfd

          September 29, 2017 at 1:32 pm

          This should generate a DOT complaint. How can the Passenger Usage Fee be allowed if you can’t get the best rate when you are checking luggage? (because you MUST book online to get the lower luggage rate).

          Or will they let you buy luggage at the time of purchase at the online rate?

  7. Danielle

    February 2, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    We fly Spirit most of the time, but live 2 hours (4 hours round trip) from the closest Spirit airport …so we can’t buy our tickets at the counter 🙁 It would have saved us $107 (we were still able to get 3 roundtrip tickets from Chicago to San Diego for $318 …but could have been $211 for 3 tickets!) …What a terrible fee that is!

    • jill Cunningham

      February 3, 2016 at 8:17 am

      If you know someone (even in a different town) who is close enough to the airport to purchase your touched, you can do that. You can buy any origin and destination ticket at any airport.

    • Tiff

      February 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Jill is right. You don’t have to be flying in/out of that airport to purchase tickets there (as long as a Spirit counter is there) and someone else can go and purchase tickets for you. I’ve gone to the airport to buy tickets for other people before. What they will need is the first name, last name, and date of birth for each person flying.

  8. Brittany

    February 17, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Can you buy your tickets at the airport in advance? I have a flight I’m looking to book in June, but really want to avoid the extra $70 ish dollars in passenger usage fees. Or do I have to buy my tickets the day of? I certainly don’t want to risk not getting on my flight!

    • jill

      February 17, 2016 at 3:35 am

      If it’s available online, you can buy it at the airport. I would never buy a plane ticket the day of

    • Tiff

      February 17, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Spirit allows you to purchase tickets up to 12 months ahead of time. Whether you purchase them online or at the airport.

  9. Abe

    October 28, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I know this is an old post. But I just went to lax to buy tickets and avoid the usage fee, to my surprise the online and the at the counter price was the same. The spirit agent told me that it’s the same price no matter what. Has anyone bought tickets at LAX? How can you make the ticket agent understand that the price should be discounted by the usage fee. FYI – the ticket agent has no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned the passenger usage fee. All he told me was this is the price, and it was the same as the one I reviewed online.

    • Tiff

      November 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      That shouldn’t happen. I bought tickets at DFW this past August and it was the same as always, each ticket was $17.99 less than the online price. When the agent at the counter pulls up the ticket prices, it should be the price minus the usage fee that automatically comes up. I’ve never bought tickets at LAX, only at DFW and MCO (Orlando), but I’ve never had that happen.

      Three possible scenarios occur to me: 1) It was a mistake, either computer or human error 2) The price went up between the last time you checked and when you went to purchase tickets or 3) Spirit at LAX has a weird rule that they charge you the usage fee even at the airport. If anyone else has any insight to why this may have happened I’d love to hear it. Or if you were able to go back and get the price without the usage fee. Did you ask to talk to a manager or their boss?

  10. imani adams

    January 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Hi, do you know if Spirit cuts the governments cut for international flights?

    • Tiff

      February 3, 2017 at 5:21 am

      Honestly I’m not 100% sure because I’ve never flown international with Spirit, but my best guess would be I don’t think they do. But it’s always worth asking. The worst thing they’ll tell you is no. Good luck! =)

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