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Spirit Airlines to Crush Passengers' Spirits With $100 Carry-On Fee

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In a bit in on a 1953 episode of I Love Lucy called “Sales Resistance,” a fast-talking salesman pitches his signature product, the Handy Dandy vacuum, to Lucy. For the low, low price of $8.95, she can be the proud owner of the sweeper with “the works.” A great deal, she thinks. She happily hands him the cash.

Then he goes on to tell her that, while she just paid for “the most important part” of the machine, if she wants the accessories, she’ll have to dole out more: $5 for the electrical cord, $2.50 for each attachment, and so on.

The old “bait and switch” used by sleazy door-to-door salesmen over half a century ago is precisely the tack we’re seeing in 2012 from Spirit Airlines (SAVE). Sure, the carrier’s fares are still low-cost, relative to its competitors. But if you want to take even one carry-on bag aboard with you on your flight, it’ll cost ya. And beginning in November, it’ll cost ya even more.

Nearly two years after becoming the first domestic airline company to charge passengers for carry-on luggage, Miramar, Florida-headquartered Spirit Airlines is increasing its fee by over twofold. Unless passengers pay online in advance, each carry-on piece will cost up to $200 ($100 each way) at check-in for every US and international flight. That fee currently stands at $45.

Passengers who only want to be saddled with a $40 fee (up from $35) for each carry-on bag, had better plan out their luggage situation ahead of time. Paying online for carry-ons during the booking process will save customers a significant amount of money but that also requires them to determine what and how much they’re packing well before beginning the task.

And what the Spirit website doesn’t disclose in its new fees schedule is that carry-ons are charged per leg of the flight.

The only other domestic airline to follow the carry-on fee trail, blazed by Spirit, is Nevada-based Allegiant Air (ALGT). Allegiant charges up to $35 for carry-ons at the airport.

Of the Allegiant fee, aviation consultant Robert Mann of R.W. Mann & Co. remarked to MSNBC, “No business-oriented airline would do this to customers with a laptop and valet bag – they would drive them right off the airplane.”
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.