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What You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines Fees

Elina Geller

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

It can be easy to be fooled into thinking you scored a deal after nabbing a $26 flight to Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines.

But while the airfare itself is certainly cheap, there’s a good chance your total flight costs will far exceed $26. That’s because Spirit Airlines has one of the most comprehensive a la carte pricing models of any airline. Spirit seats on their own tend to be tantalizingly cheap, but things that other airlines typically include in the cost of airfare — like soft drinks and reserved seats — will cost you extra.

Suddenly, your $26 flight might start to cost the same, or even more, than the fares listed for non-budget airlines.

» Learn more: Spirit Airlines: The complete guide

Spirit Airlines bag fees

Base fares include one personal item, like a laptop bag or purse. But don’t think you can get away with not having to pay by stuffing all your possessions into a backpack, as even that might not fit. Spirit defines a personal item as anything 18 by 14 by 8 inches or smaller. Even something like this fairly standard-size Adidas backpack would be too large by Spirit standards.

For larger bags, like that backpack or rolling luggage, there’s a good chance that the cost to fly your stuff is more than the cost to fly yourself.

Spirit doesn’t publish standard bag fees, as they can vary not only based on route but also on when you pay for them. And the longer you wait, the more you’ll pay. If you’re paying at the gate, you could end up paying nearly twice as much as if you had paid the bag fee at the time of booking.

While fees can fluctuate, here’s what Spirit bag fees look like for the aforementioned $26 flight between Seattle and Las Vegas:

And that’s assuming your baggage weighs 40 pounds or less. Here are the additional fees you’d pay per bag if transporting large or heavy items:

For customers enrolled in Spirit’s add-on membership program called Spirit Saver$ Club, there’s some good news: Bag fees are discounted. The membership costs $69.95 for 12 months, $99.90 ($5 savings) for 18 months and $129.90 ($10 savings) for 24 months.

Here’s how much typical bag fees cost for that same flight if you’re a member of the Spirit Saver$ Club:

What does Spirit consider a personal item vs. carry-on vs. checked bag?

Depending on the size of your bag, it might not be considered a personal item, even if it fits under the seat in front of you. What’s more, you might not be able to carry it on, even if you think it’s a relatively small suitcase. Here’s how Spirit defines each type of bag:

Personal item: Maximum of 18 by 14 by 8 inches, including handles and wheels.

Carry-on: Maximum of 22 by 18 by 10 inches, including handles and wheels.

Checked bag: Maximum of 62 linear inches (length plus width plus height) including handles and wheels, and less than 100 pounds (overweight/oversize baggage fees apply).

Spirit Airlines change fees

Change fees are on hold temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally though, there’s a good chance that the cost to change or cancel your flight ends up being more than the cost of the flight itself.

Spirit does not offer any sort of refundable fare, but it does provide some options to change and cancel reservations.

Spirit typically charges $90 to cancel your reservation online and an even heftier $100 to cancel over the phone or at the airport. Perhaps what stings even worse than paying $90 to cancel your flight: You won’t get the amount you paid refunded back to your original form of payment. Instead, you get it as a Reservation Credit toward future Spirit flights. And adding insult to injury is that those credits have an expiration date; typically, your new flight made with the Reservation Credit must be booked within one year from the original date of purchase.

If you’re changing your flight within 24 hours of departure, you can pay $99 to stand by for an earlier flight.

If you booked an award ticket, expect to pay even more. The change fee is $110, and you still must pay the difference of any additional miles required for your new itinerary.

» Learn more: Plan your next redemption with our airline points tool

How to avoid Spirit Airlines change fees

Act quickly. As long as you’re booking a flight at least seven days before departure, Spirit does not charge a fee if the flight is changed or canceled within 24 hours after the initial purchase. Money is refunded to the original form of payment.

Book a Flight Flex (though we don’t recommend it). Flight Flex is a sort of insurance program offered by Spirit Airlines that allows you to modify your flight once without having to pay a change fee.

But Flight Flex comes with its own fee which, like bag fees, can vary by flight. For this $26 flight between Seattle and Las Vegas, the cost to add the Flight Flex option was $45. And Flight Flex comes with restrictions, including that you are entitled to only one change, and you need to make the change more than 24 hours before the scheduled flight. Plus, you’re still on the hook to pay for any difference in fares.

Here’s why Flight Flex is generally a bad deal: Say you’re changing your $26 flight to a new $100 flight. With Flight Flex, you would have paid $71 (that’s $45 for the Flight Flex option plus $26 for the original flight). You also still owe $74 to make up the fare difference, which means changing to a new $100 flight ends up costing $145 after all the fees.

Flight Flex is also included as part of Spirit’s Bundle It Combo (more on that later), which removes the a la carte aspect and instead packages a bunch of add-ons for one fee. If you want the ability to change your flight and anticipate checking bags anyway, the bundle option can make more sense.

Given that, it can often make more financial sense to just book your airfare sans Flight Flex, and then book an entirely new ticket should your plans change. If you do go this route, it's also generally smart to book a roundtrip flight as two separate one-way fares, so your return trip isn't void if you need to chance the outbound trip.

Generally speaking, trip insurance can turn out more useful than Flight Flex (especially if your credit card offers trip insurance for no extra cost anyway).

Fees to check in and obtain your boarding pass for your Spirit flight

There’s no fee to check in online for your Spirit flight. Once checked in, print your boarding pass at home, too, because it’s free.

But if you fail to plan ahead, you’ll have to pay up.

If you need to print your boarding pass at an airport kiosk, it costs $2. If you’re a luddite who prefers bypassing the kiosk in favor of a human, it costs even more: $10 to have your boarding pass printed by an airport agent.

Spirit waives those fees in a few circumstances, such as if you’re traveling as an unaccompanied minor, with a lap infant, or if you’re using a military ID instead of a passport and are unable to check in online.

Fees to select a seat ahead of time

Whether you’re trying to avoid the middle seat or you just want to guarantee that you can sit next to your kid, it’s going to cost you to choose your seat ahead of time.

Spirit doesn’t have a published list of seat assignment pricing as it varies per flight, though the airline says all seat reservations start at a minimum of $5.

But $5 is a liberal assumption for how much you’ll actually pay to reserve your seats. Here’s how much seat assignments cost on that same $26 flight between Seattle and Las Vegas:

spirit airlines charge for seat assignment

The "Big Front Seats" have more legroom, are wider (no middle seat in the row) and cost an additional $40. The often-coveted seats in the emergency exit rows cost $20, and even a middle seat near the back costs $12 to reserve.

Fees for in-flight refreshments

Fees for in-flight food and alcoholic beverages are common across all airlines. Some more generous airlines will dole out complimentary in-flight snacks (we see you, Delta Biscoff cookies and JetBlue Terra Chips). But Spirit won’t even throw in a free Diet Coke.

All refreshments sold in-flight on Spirit come with a fee, such as coffee ($2), sodas and juices ($3), beer and wine ($8) and snacks like Pringles or Oreos (starting at $3).

In-cabin pet fee

Spirit charges $110 per pet container, each way, with a limit of four pets total in the cabin. Spirit allows you to put two pets in one container. If you are traveling with a pet or two, they’ll always ride with you in-cabin, as Spirit does not transport pets in cargo.

And even still, there are a number of limitations. Pets need to be small, since the container must fit under the seat, and pets must be able to stand and turn around in the container. Plus, the combined weight of the pet and carrier must be 40 pounds or less.

Priority boarding and security access

For an additional fee, you can whiz through security and be one of the first to board the plane. Starting at $7.99, Spirit’s “Shortcut Boarding” access allows you priority boarding in Zone 2.

Depending on the airport you’re departing from, you may also be able to pay for "Shortcut Security," though we don’t recommend it. It’s not TSA PreCheck , but it will allow you to go through security in an expedited lane. Costs vary per airport but don’t exceed $20, though it's not a guarantee your airport even offers the Shortcut Security program.

Unaccompanied minor fees

Is your kid flying alone? That’s an extra $100.

You’ll get hit with that unaccompanied minor fee if the child is 5-14 years old. On the bright side, Spirit will throw in a free snack and drink for your kid, a solid $6 value.

Spirit won’t allow children to fly alone if they’re 4 or younger, or if they’re traveling on a connecting flight, international flights or domestic flights that include a scheduled change of aircraft.

Bundle packages

Spirit offers bundled packages during the booking process. If you anticipate paying for a number of these fees anyway, then bundling them isn’t a bad deal.

Going back to that same flight between Seattle and Las Vegas, it costs $52.99 more for the Boost It package and $64.99 for the Bundle It package.

spirit airlines charge for seat assignment

Here’s how much it would cost to order a la carte what you can get in the combo packages for one set price:

Boost It package (costs $52.99):

Pick Your Seat: $20 (exit row!).

Personal item: $0 (already included with airfare).

Checked Bag plus 10 pounds extra: $33 (if the bag weighs 40 pounds or less) or $63 (if it weighs 50 pounds or less).

Shortcut Boarding: $7.99.

The Boost It package is worth $88.99 in this scenario (if you take advantage of the 50 pound allowance), which is a $36 savings. If your bag is less than 40 pounds ($33) but you want to pick a seat ($20) and have Shortcut Boarding ($7.99), then you save only a few dollars on the Boost It bundle price. But if your bag is in that weight sweet spot (40-50 pounds), you’ll save $36 with this bundle.

Bundle It package (costs $64.99):

Pick Your Seat: $20.

Flight Flex: $45.

*It’s tough to assign a value to Spirit miles because you accrue a different number of miles based on your status within the Free Spirit program.

The 2x miles aside, the Bundle It package is worth $133.99 in this scenario, which is a $69 savings if you were to buy each item individually at booking. Spirit says it’s a $104 savings value, based on the company’s own mileage valuation.

Again, if you are packing that oversize bag (between 40 and 50 pounds) or you want the Flight Flex option (which we don’t really recommend), then it’s worth it. But if you want only a few things — say one checked bag that weighs less than 40 pounds, the ability to choose your seat and shortcut boarding — keep buying a la carte.

Average fees compared across airlines

In NerdWallet's most recent analysis of airline fees , we compared seat selection, checked baggage and overhead carry-on baggage fees charged by the major U.S. airlines on typical one-way fares. Here's how they stacked up:

Spirit is a low-cost carrier, which means that the price you pay for the flight will include only the ticket itself. You will need to pay for everything you’d like to add such as bags, printing your boarding pass at the airport, selecting your seat, change fees, award redemption fees, meals on the flight, early boarding and more. The fees fluctuate based on when you purchase these add-ons, so a bag purchased at booking will be cheaper than if you purchase it at the gate.

Because Spirit is a low-cost carrier, you will need to pay extra for everything other than the flight. So, if you’ll be checking a bag, printing your boarding pass at the airport, purchasing food on the plane and paying for a seat up front, you’ll end up paying for each of these add-ons, which will increase the price of your ticket. If you often fly with Spirit and value these extras, the carrier offers the Spirit Saver$ Club, which provides discounts on bags, seats and more.

Spirit will assign a random seat to you during the check-in process. However, if you’d like to choose your own seat or select one at booking, you will need to pay for it. The proximity to the front of the plane also affects the cost of the seat. If you’re interested in the Big Front Seat, which is Spirit’s equivalent of domestic first class, it will be cheaper to purchase this seat in advance instead of at the airport.

You are allowed one personal item (e.g., purse, small backpack) free of charge. The dimensions must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) including handles and wheels. If your backpack is larger, refer to the carry-on and checked bag price list.

The bottom line

Book your $26 flight, but expect to spend a lot more than that.

You might have thought you could get away without a carry-on when you booked the flight, but as you start packing, you realize you’ll need a small rolling suitcase. That’s an extra $45 at check-in.

You don’t have a printer, so you’ll have to pay $2 to print your boarding pass at the airport kiosk.

You don’t want the middle seat so you accept you’ll pay $14 to choose an aisle, but why pay $14 for an aisle when it’s only $6 more for the exit row aisle? You pay $20 to choose a good seat.

Once flying, you pay $3 for a ginger ale. While your credit card is already out, you throw in Sea Salt PopCorners for $4.

Suddenly, your $26 flight has become $100. That’s not even including a number of other fees you might end up paying too, like pet fees, priority boarding, cancellation fees and more.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Spirit has ultra-cheap fares. Traveling with Spirit is cheap if you pack uber-light — and pack your own snacks. For budget travelers who can plan ahead, Spirit can be a deal. But pay attention when booking, because your “cheap” Spirit flight might cost more than a ticket on any of the other airlines.

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spirit airlines charge for seat assignment

How to Avoid Spirit Airlines Fees and Extra Charges on Your Next Trip

By Brett Snyder

Spirit Airlines

They're somewhat notorious in the world of air travel : Spirit Airlines baggage fees, seating surcharges, and numerous other fare add-on options the ultra-low-cost-carrier sells for anything beyond basic transportation. It's a business model that has helped Spirit lower its fares , but those fees can add up quickly. With the carrier's dynamic pricing model, which charges on a sliding scale based on factors like the route and time of year, even the exact price of the add-ons can be tough to predict.

We read through all the fine print to create the ultimate guide to Spirit's fees. Here's how you can keep them as low as possible.

1. Buy your ticket at the airport

This may sound funny, but it's the easiest fee to avoid completely if you live near the airport. Spirit charges a "Passenger Usage Fee" that's between $8.99 and $20.99 each way if you book online or over the phone. It's treated like a convenience fee. To avoid it, just go to the airport and buy the ticket at Spirit's ticket counter . You have to go out of your way (and spend money on gas and possibly parking) to avoid the fee, but it will save you money on the ticket.

2. Don't reserve seats in advance

This one is fairly obvious. If you want to save money, then don't pay for an advance seat assignment. Spirit's dynamic pricing model will charge you from $1 to $50 to reserve any seat in advance of travel. Reserving a seat in advanced online is always cheaper than choosing a seat when you get to the airport, but you'll have to pay either way. If you don't pay, they'll just assign you a random seat when you check in. If you wait to get your seat assignment at the airport, I've found that the gate agent may move you to, say, an available exit row seat, without an extra charge at the check-in desk. That said, Spirit flights often are jam-packed, so don't count on moving. If you're okay with flying in a middle seat , this is an easy fee to avoid.

3. Print your boarding pass ahead of time

If you show up at the airport and want to get a boarding pass from the ticket counter, don't. You'll pay $10 per boarding pass that a Spirit agent prints, and that's just a silly fee to incur. Even printing at an airport kiosk will set you back an extra $2 per boarding pass. Print at home or opt for an e-boarding pass at online check-in, and you're good to go.

4. Pack extremely light

Spirit charges not only for checked bags but also for carry-on bags that are too big to fit under the seat in front of you. The only free bag allotted to passengers is one personal item (like a laptop bag or purse) that is smaller than 18 x 14 x 8 inches. Any additional bags will incur a fee. If you can pack light, and I mean really light, you can avoid the bag fees.

5. If you can't pack light, pay for your bags early

The reality is that most people can't cut their packing down to something the size of a purse or small backpack unless they're on a day trip. So how can you keep your bag fees minimal? Pay for them in advance.

If you pay for bags when booking your flight online, then you'll save the most money. Spirit charges around $38 to $40 for a carry-on during online booking (fees are charged on a sliding scale depending on the route), $48 to $50 before or during online check-in. But at the airport check-in counter? That carry-on is $55. If you try to sneak it to the gate and play dumb, you'll pay $65. Don't do it.

Prices for your first checked bag clock in around $32 at online booking, $42 before or during online check-in, $55 at the airport, and $65 at the gate (again prices are on a sliding scale). No matter when you choose to check your baggage, be careful about Spirit's bag rules. Checked bags must weigh less than 40 pounds each—that's less than most airlines. Bags that weigh between 40 to 50 pounds are charged an extra $30, with oversize fees increasing from there.

6. Bring your own snacks and drinks

Spirit will charge you for all drinks and snacks on the airplane (anywhere from $1 to $10 for snacks and $1 to $15 for drinks). Even water on an international flight costs $3 per bottle. So if you're going to pay for that carry-on bag, you might as well put snacks in it and save a little money. Of course, you can't bring drinks through security, but consider bringing your own water bottle and filling it up before you get on the plane.

7. Join the $9 Fare Club

While I wouldn't suggest that everyone should join this club, you should certainly consider it if you plan on flying Spirit frequently. The $9 Fare Club actually costs $59.95 a year and will auto-renew at $69.95 if you don't cancel, but you may save even more than that on a single booking.

Spirit often offers discounted fares to $9 Fare Club members (discounts can vary widely), but you can also get up to a 50 percent discount on any checked or carry-on bag you pay for online in advance of arriving at the airport (the discount is, again, subject to Spirit's signature dynamic pricing so it varies depending on route and time of year). Sure, it'll put you on a Spirit marketing list, but the benefits apply to up to eight people traveling on the same reservation together. Just remember to cancel your membership before the end of your year if you don't plan on flying Spirit again.

Follow these tips, and you'll save yourself some real money on your flight. Spirit keeps a running list of most of its various fees, so you can always see the current Spirit Optional Services schedule here .

This article was originally published in April 2014. It has been updated with new information. Additional reporting by Jessica Puckett.

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Making Family Travel Manageable

Resources and Inspiration to Take Your Kids Anywhere!

Spirit Airlines airplane taking off on a runway

How to Avoid Spirit Airlines Fees and Charges: The Ultimate Guide

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Flying spirit airlines as a family can save you tons of money in travel costs, as the base airfare for Spirit Airlines flights is typically low.  As a family, we’ve flown Spirit Airlines many times, and it has allowed us to take more vacations per year and spend more money in the actual destination. This guide provides tips on how to avoid Spirit Airlines fees– from the time you book your ticket– until you arrive at your destionation.

We are fans of Spirit Airlines; however, you have to understand that Spirit Airlines is a budget airline and that you will be nickeled and dimed for every dollar spent, beyond the base fare.  Understanding that is key to avoiding Spirit Airlines fees, keeping costs down, and setting reasonable expectations. 

Spirit Airlines’ tagline is “Less Money, More Go” and with a little bit of preplanning, patience and flexibility- this can be 100% accurate!

A List of Common Spirit Airline Fees, That Can be Avoided

These six fees are the most important Spirit Airlines fees to be aware of. If you can avoid or minimize these six fees you are doing pretty well. 

  • Passenger Usage Fee: This is a $22.99 fee assessed per person, per ticket (leg), when tickets are purchased online. 
  • Reserving Seats: At the time of booking you can pay to reserve seats, in order to ensure that your family sits together, or to ensure you get your favorite seats. Fees are $9-$77+ per person. 
  • Boarding Pass & Online Check-in: Spirit Airlines charges $10 per boarding pass, if you need it printed at the airport.  They’ll also charge you $10 to check in with an agent, if you do not check in on the app, prior to arrival.
  • Baggage Fees: See chart below for cost of carry on and checked baggage. 
  • Snacks & Drinks: See menu below for details on in-flight snack and beverage pricing. 
  • In Flight Entertainment: You can purchase wi-fi or a wi-fi “streaming package” which would allow you to use your own streaming apps, such as Netflix or Hulu. 

How to Avoid  Common Spirit Airline Fees

1. passenger usage fee : this is a $22.99 fee assessed by spirit airlines, per person-per leg of your trip., how to avoid the passenger usage fee:.

The first fee you’ll pay is the Passenger Usage Fee. The way to avoid the “Passenger Usage Fee” is to purchase your tickets at the airport.  Let’s say you have a family of 5. Purchasing your tickets online will cost you $229.9, for a non-stop round trip flight. And you most likely don’t even know you are paying this fee. If you have a layover in your itinerary the fee *could* be as high as $459.8.  

If you purchase your tickets at a Spirit Airlines’ airport location, then this fee is not assessed.  Seriously. 

I have personally done this, and it’s legit.  The trick is finding the time to ‘swing’ by the airport.  The time we did this we happened to be driving to Wisconsin and drove by O’hare airport in Chicago.  We swung in, I ran into the airport- and purchased tickets for our upcoming trip to Phoenix, Arizona. You’ll be waiting in the same line as the check-in people, so depending on the time of day it may take a while.  However, when we did it there was no line, and the whole thing took about 10 minutes. 

When you purchase Spirit Airline tickets at the airport, all they give you is a receipt-like a grocery store receipt. However, when you get home you can double check your reservation with your confirmation number, and update any information online. 

TWTL Tip: You’ll want to check the hours of operations for your local Spirit Airlines airport location , as you don’t want to show up when they are closed. 

2. Pre-booking seats: Booking seats-at anytime prior to departure- will cost you between $1-$150, per person, per flight. 

How to avoid paying for seat selection:.

When you are booking tickets the system will ask you if you’d like to purchase pre-selected seats. The way to avoid the Spirit Airlines seat pre-booking fee is to not pre-book seats 🙂

If you do not pre-book seats then you can go onto the app 24 hours before your flight and select seats for free.  If  you don’t select seats prior to arriving at the airport then Spirit Airlines will likely assign you seats.  It’s also possible that when you arrive at the airport the agent won’t have any seats to *assign* and you’ll have to wait until you arrive at the gate to receive your seat assignment.  If this happens to you-try not to panic!   

I’ve been told by a Spirit Agent that if a family doesn’t purchase seats that they’ll be seated together nonetheless. Having said that, if you do not purchase seats in advance it is *possible* that your family will not be able to sit together.  

We’ve flown Spirit Airlines 4-5 times as a family, and we’ve never pre-selected seats, and we’ve always sat together.  However, if you do not pre-purchase seats you have to be prepared that your family may be split up. If that happens, and you have to negotiate with other passengers, you will have to contend with passengers who have paid for their selected seats.  

TWTL Tip: There are restrictions on where children can sit, and also where car seats can be placed. Check out this in depth article on how to select Spirit Airlines seats for families.

3. Online Check In: Checking in at the airport will cost you $10 per person

How to avoid the spirit airines check in fee :.

The third and fourth fees go hand in hand. Avoid the Spirit Airlines check in fee by checking in on the app.  In fact, about the only thing you can do on the Spirit Airlines app is check in! Check-in begins 24 hours before departure and ends an hour prior to departure.

This is the easiest Spirit Airlines fee to avoid! 

4. Boarding Passes: Having the Spirit Airlines agent print your boarding pass will cost you $10 per person (same $10 as checking in at the airport)

How to avoid the spirit airlines boarding pass fee:.

You can avoid the boarding pass fee in one of two ways:   (1) print your family’s boarding passes out at home, and bring them with you to the airport.  (2) Or, you can save them on your smartphone and the TSA agent will be able to scan your boarding passes right from your phone.  

TWTL Tip: If one family member is loading all boarding passes onto their phone then all members will have to go through security together.  Be sure no one is parking the car, while their boarding passes are loaded on someone elses phone. 

5. Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees: The Baggage fees can be the most complex, and the most costly.  

How to avoid the spirit airlines baggage & carry on fees.

The only way to completely avoid the Spirit checked baggage and carry on fees is to only bring a ‘personal item.’ You will pay an additional fee for a carry on or a checked bag. 

Many times checking a bag is unavoidable; however, if you understand the Spirit Airlines carry on & checked bag fee structure you can minimize your overall bag fees!

TWTL Tip: If you must book a bag, pay for it at the time of booking-you’ll get the best price. 

A. The Personal Bag

The only ‘free’ bag on Spirit Airlines is the personal bag.  One personal item is included with each fare.  Spirit Airlines describes the personal bag as something like a purse, small backpack, or a laptop bag. 

The Personal bag may  not exceed  18″x14″x8″ (including wheels and handles).

Diaper Bags: The only exception to a personal bag is if you have an infant or a toddler, you’re allowed to bring a diaper bag IN ADDITION to your personal bag-at no extra charge. 

B. Carry-on Bag Fee

Carry on bags fees vary; however, they are typically between $35-$41; you are allowed to bring one carry-on per person.  If you can get all of your items into the carry-on bag then you’ll avoid having to pay for a checked bag.

TWTL Tip: The carry-on bag is more expensive than the first checked bag.  If you purchase one checked bag-no carry on bag- and pack the family’s clothes into the one checked bag, you’ll save a few bucks and have more space. 

C. Checked Bag Guidelines: General

You are allowed up to 5 checked bags.  The fee schedule for checked bags varies depending on route; however, here is a general fee range for standard fares , and bags purchased during booking: 

No matter what the baggage fee costs they’ll always be cheapest if you purchase the bags during booking.  If you are unsure of your baggage needs you can always purchase bags before or during online checking and they’ll still be cheaper than if you buy them at the airport (although slightly more expensive than purchasing bags during booking). 

D. What does Spirit Charge for bags?  

The answer is that it depends. Here is a case study on bag prices for a flight from Chicago to New York: 

Chicago to New York: Base fare is  $45.38

New York to Chicago: Base fare is $79.18

Spirit Airlines has a handy feature that lets you check the bag prices for any existing booking, or prosepctive booking. Check out the Spirit Airlines Bag-O-Tron for exact prices for your route.

E. Bundle Packages: Another way to save money on all of these add ons is to ‘bundle’ them. 

After you select your flights you are brought to the “Upgrade & Save Page.” Included in your Spirit Airlines base fare is (1) a random seat, and (2) a personal item.  If you know that you’ll want to add on items such as early boarding, seat selection, and a checked bag it’s worth doing the math to see if “boosting” or “bundling” these things would be cheaper than adding them on a la carte. 

F. Overweight & Oversized Baggage Fees: The weight limit on checked bags is 40 lbs-anything over that and you’ll pay an additional fee.  

If you have overweight bags consider your options.  It may be cheaper to pay the overweight baggage fee, or it could be the same price as paying for a second checked bag.  Price these out, and weigh your bags before departure to see which option is more economical.  Paying for a second bag will give you an additional 40 lbs to work with. 

TWTL Tip: Spirit Airlines will not allow you to fly with a bag that is more than 80 linear inches in overall dimensions. 

TWTL Tip: Spirit Airlines will not allow you to check any single bag that is more than 100 lbs. 

TWTL Tip: There is no weight limit for personal items, carry ons, or the car seat bag!  Meaning you can throw extra items into the car seat bag, along with the car seat!

G. FAQ about Spirit Baggage

  • Purchased during Spirit.com booking: Anywhere from $25-$39 dollars. 
  • After booking, but before arrival at the airport: Typically $35-$49 dollars. 
  • At the airport: Typically $50-$60 dollars. 
  • At the gate: $67
  • Purchased during Spirit.com booking: Anywhere from $30-$45 dollars. 
  • After booking, but before arriving at the airport: Typically $40-$55 dollars. 
  • At the airport: $55
  • What is the Spirit airlines carry-on size: Maximum of 22 x 18 x10  inches (including handles and wheels). 
  • What size bag can you carry on Spirit Airlines for free? A personal bag. The Personal bag may  not exceed  18″x14″x8″ (including wheels and handles).
  • How big can a checked bag be on Spirit Airlines?  A checked bag cannot be more than 62 linear  inches (length + width + height=62’)  including handles and wheels. Any bag bigger than that is considered oversized/overweight and will incur an additional fee (see above chart). 
  • What is the Spirit Airlines baggage weight limit? 40lbs for checked baggage (see chart above for pricing). 
  • How do I avoid paying baggage fees on Spirit Airlines? Bring only a personal item. If that’s not feasible then purchase 1 checked bag at the time of booking.  Carry-ons are more expensive than checked bags, and buying after booking is going to cost you more than purchasing bags at the time of booking. 
  • Do you get a free bag on Spirit?  You get a personal bag for free. Parents with small children can also bring on a diaper bag for free. 
  • How do I add bags to my Spirit reservation? You can add bags at the time of booking.  Alternatively, you can go onto the website and purchase bags at any time before or during check in.  Last option is to purchase bags at the airport; however, this is the most costly option. 
  • Are Spirit Airlines baggage fees refundable? This is the official Spirit Airlines policy on refundable fees, “All purchases of travel, hotel, car rental, leisure activities, booking fees, taxes, baggage fees, and seat fees are non-refundable.”

6. Snacks and Drinks

The cheapest way to save money here is to bring your own food and drink from home. Here is a list of snack ideas for the plane that you can prepare at home. 

Snacks onboard Spirit Airlines cost between $1-$10, and drinks cost between $1-15.  You can ‘bundle’ food and drinks to get a bit of a discount.  Check out the description of food and drinks Spirit Airlines offers on board its flights. Here is a link to the À La Smarte™ Sips + Snacks , which includes photos of items offered. 

7. In Flight Entertainment

Lastly, in flight entertainment. According to Spirit Airlines it has endeavored to have 97% of its routes enabled with Wi-Fi by 2021.  If you are lucky enough to get a wi-fi enabled plane you will be able to purchase Wi-Fi for $6.95 and use it to stream movies and shows from sites that you already have like Netflix and Hulu. 

Additional Ways to Save Money on Spirit Airlines Fees

1. free spirit membership: .

This is the Spirit Airlines frequent flyer program, it works similarly to other frequent flyer programs, and you can redeem points for Spirit Airlines flights.

2. The Spirit Saver$ Club (Formerly the $9 Fare Club): 

Joining the Spirit Saver$ Club will allow you to save money on fares, seats, bags, security shortcuts, boarding shortcuts, snacks, and more.  If you were a member of the $9 Fare Club then your membership automatically converted to the new program on January 21, 2021.  

Here is the cost breakdown for the Membership: 

TWTL Tip: Spirit Saver$ Club discounts can be applied to up to 8 people when booking a reservation.  Meaning that if one person buys the Membership then all people (up to 8) on that same booking can benefit from the membership. 

3. Spirit Airlines World Mastercard

If you are approved for a Spirit Airlines World Mastercard you can earn up to 40,000 Bonus Points + A $100 companion flight voucher-if you make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. 

Flying Spirit Airlines with Kids

1. flying with a baby.

Flying Spirit Airlines with a baby or toddler is totally doable, and Spirit Airlines allows your growing family to take more trips, and spend less money on getting there.  For all the tips and tricks for flying Spirit with a baby or toddler check out-Flying Spirit Airlines with a Toddler: The Complete Review

2. Car Seat and Stroller Policy:  

Strollers: You can check one stroller and one car seat per child, at no extra cost. You can regular check the stroller, or gate check the stroller.  

Car Seats: If you have purchased a seat for your child you can bring the car seat onboard the airplane.  Alternatively, you can regular check or gate check the car seat.  

To bring a carseat onboard it must be an FAA-approved car seat, and you should check to make sure the car seat will fit within the Spirit Airlines narrow seats.   Like all airlines there will be restrictions on which rows you can sit in with a car seat, and also where you can put your car seat within that row.  If you tick the box saying that you are bringing a car seat on board the system will automatically block out prohibited seats-which is really handy!

3. Will Spirit Airlines seat families together?

If you pre-pay for your seats- yes, of course. 

If you do not pre-pay for your seats then the likelihood of your family being seated together by the Spirit agent is very likely.  However, it is not guaranteed.   Also, if you do not like your assigned seats and you try to switch seats on the plane-remember that you are contending with people who most likely selected and paid for their seat selection. 

We don’t pay to pre-select seats; however, we understand (and accept) that there is a chance that we may not be seated together.  

Don’t let Spirit Airlines fees disuade you from flying Spirit Airlines. With base fares so low, you are likely to save money even if you pay some of these fees. The trick to flying Spirit Airlines is to acknowledge that it is a budget airline, and to be intentional in how you use Spirit Airlines. With an open mind, patience, and managing your expectations you can make Spirit Airlines work for you- so that you have more money where it counts-on vacation!

Do you have any other tips or tricks for avoiding Spirit Airlines fees? If so, drop them below in the comments!

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Hi, I want to travel by Spirit Airlines and would like to avoid ‘Passenger Usage Fee’ by booking from airport instead of online. My question is: Spirit offers discount codes online, would those discounts apply at the airport too?

That Passenger Usage Fee sounds totally barmy to me, how crazy that you pay so much more for NOT booking at an airport! For the rest, it’s similar to our European budget airlines, so people are really familiar these days on those added fees and how they can add up!

I’ve not traveled using Spirit before but they remind me a lot of RyanAir in Europe. Budget airlines can be amazing ways to escape for a short time on the cheap, but the fees often do surprise people when not prepared. This is a great guide to helping flyers navigate the nuances of Spirit! I don’t think I would’ve figured out an “easy” workaround to the Passenger Usage Fee, so the shout out there was great.

I appreciate these practical ways to navigate all the hidden fees and upcharges on Spirit. However, I find it soooooo annoying when airlines do this, that I’ve largely opted to simply not fly Spirit or Frontier and just stick with my beloved Southwest (especially since my daughter has a companion pass).

Great post! I had thought about writing one, but this is very detailed! I use Spirit upon occasion and have good luck avoiding fees. Thank you! These are some additional good tips.

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Spirit Airlines do's and don'ts: Don't freak out about the seats, do sign up for deals

spirit airlines charge for seat assignment

With a fraction of the planes and daily flights, Spirit Airlines isn't as well known as its major competitors save for the occasional eye-popping fare sale or joke on late-night TV.

But the Florida-based budget airline is expanding rapidly, with new service in Nashville , Tenn.; Charlotte, North Carolina; and California this year, meaning an increasing number of travelers are going to see Spirit in airfare searches and at their airport gates.

USA TODAY took seven Spirit flights in five days to check out the expanding discount airline with the hard-to-miss yellow and black planes.

Here are 13 do's and don'ts:

1. Do the math when shopping for tickets . That $65 one-way fare from Detroit to Las Vegas will quickly balloon if you’re bringing anything bigger than a purse or backpack   (Spirit charges for carry-on and checked bags ) and want an advance seat assignment. Conversely, it probably can’t be beat if you travel light and don’t care where you sit.

2.  Don’t assume a similarly priced ticket on another airline will get you more . American, United and Delta created basic economy fares to match Spirit’s bargain fares, and those tickets come with their own restrictions. American and Delta do allow a free standard carry-on bag unlike Spirit, but United, for example, does not. And all three major airlines charge basic economy passengers for advance seat assignments . 

3.  Do sign up for Spirit emails and , if you plan to fly Spirit a lot, the $9 Fare Club ($60 a year). Spirit sends almost daily emails with promo codes for flight discounts. One 50% off deal saved me $35 on a cheap flight from Fort Lauderdale. Note that they are limited-time offers, sometimes requiring purchase that day, and the discount doesn’t shave 50% off the posted fare because Spirit has several fees – including an arcane and pricey "passenger usage charge" – baked into the fare that is displayed. But it's still savings you wouldn't otherwise get. The $9 Fare Club, which is $60 the first year and $70 in succeeding years, provides discounts on airfare and big discounts on bag fees. I recouped the cost with my first booking.

7 Spirit Airlines flights in 5 days: The good, the (not too) bad and the annoying

4. Don't pay for a seat assignment if you aren't picky about your seat. A Spirit ticket does not include an advance seat assignment. A seat is assigned last minute at online check-in or at the airport. The pickings may be slim – hello, middle seat – or you could get lucky and be randomly assigned an aisle or window seat or, even better, an exit row seat or empty Big Front Seat. Families are often separated. Spirit tries to sell you a seat several times during and after booking. The price to reserve an aisle seat on two of my flights: $12 a piece. If you're flying on an Airbus A321, check out seats 10B and 10C. They're the favorite of Spirit Vice President Greg Christopher because there are only two seats in the row, which is in front of an exit row seat with a rear-facing seat for the flight attendant.

5. Do make sure the Thrills Combo, a package of "perks'' including a carry-on bag, checked bag, seat assignment and waiver of the change fee, is necessary before clicking buy . Spirit touts the savings during every booking, but it's only a deal if you were planning to buy everything that is included in the lineup.

6. Don't book a last-minute ticket thinking you can get your money back within 24 hours if your plans change . Like other airlines, Spirit has a 24-hour risk-free cancellation period . Unlike other airlines, however, the policy doesn't apply to tickets booked fewer than seven days before travel, i.e., last-minute trips. Passengers in the latter category have to pay Spirit's $90 change fee (which is less than other airlines' change fees) plus any fare difference.

7. Don't wait to pay for your bags at the airport.  Spirit's bag fees are priciest at the airport. Pay for them when you book your ticket.

8. Don't wait until you get to the airport to print your boarding pass. It'll cost you $10 per person. You can print one out at home, use a mobile boarding pass from Spirit's app or print one for free at the airport kiosk.

9.  Don’t freak out about the seats. Yes, they’re thin, there’s not much cushioning and they don’t recline. But they are more than manageable for all but the tallest or largest passengers or those with a big carry-on stuffed underneath the seat.

10.  Do splurge on the Big Front Seats if it’s in the budget . The seats at the front of the plane are large, plush and there’s no middle seat. You’ll feel like you’re in first class, minus the free food and drink and the curtain separating you from the passengers in coach. Many passengers mistakenly call it first class when they file by. Prices vary by route. I paid $60 on one flight and $45 on another.

11. Don’t bother pulling out your laptop to work or watch a movie.  Spirit's tray tables are tiny. Most passengers use their smartphones or tablets for entertainment.

12. Do bring your own food and drinks. Spirit charges for in-flight drinks, including coffee ($2), bottled water ($3) and soda ($3). It sells snacks, too, like many airlines, but some of the choices (Cup of Noodles, anyone?) might leave you wishing you'd picked up something at one of those trendy airport restaurants or at least at an airport sundries shop.

13. Do expect a lot of infrequent flyers on board . There’s a reason the flight attendants make repeated announcements about using headphones when playing music or watching videos; remind travelers to use the restroom before the plane starts it descent and the seat belt sign goes on; and to use the restroom, not the seats, to change a diaper.

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Does Spirit charge for seats?

September 30, 2023 | Travel Pedia

How much does it cost to seat on Spirit?

Why does spirit make you pay for your seat, what happens if you skip seat selection, will spirit sit families together, $25 plane seat vs $25,000 first class seat.

How do I avoid paying for seat selection?

Can you sit together on spirit without paying, what happens if you don't select a seat on spirit, is seat selection free during web checkin, why can't i check-in without seat selection, how do i avoid paying baggage fees on spirit airlines.

  • Free Spirit Gold Status. Free Spirit is Spirit Airlines' loyalty program and Gold members get a free carry-on and checked bag on every flight. ...
  • Active Duty Military. ...
  • Use an Airline Incidental or Travel Credit From Your Card.

Does Spirit give free water?

Can you bring a backpack on spirit, why is spirit so cheap, why is checked bag cheaper than carry-on spirit, how does spirit seat bid work, can i select seat in flight after booking, is it better to check-in online or at the airport for seat selection, how to get window seat for free.

  • Give them a warm smile and ask how their day has been.
  • Ask them if they have an unbooked window seat and if they can book you there.
  • If this doesn't work, ask a fellow passenger if they'd be willing to change seats with you.

Is Spirit strict about carry on size?

Is spirit airlines good or bad, which airlines let you choose your seat for free, do you have to pay for every bag on spirit, does spirit assign seats at the gate, is it necessary to pay for seat, similar questions.

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