It seems like with the airlines, it’s always one step forward, two steps back. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about US Airlines eliminating charges for beverages. On the opposite side of news, Spirit Airlines announced a new fee last week. We’re used to Spirit and other airlines trying to charge us for whatever they can, but sometimes they go too far, in my opinion.
The newest charge instituted by Spirit was reported last week by the Sun Sentinel. If you look at Spirit’s press releases, you won’t find it there. So what is this new fee? They call it a “Passenger Usage Fee”, and it is $4.90 per flight (almost $10 on a simple round trip). Usage of what, you may ask? Well, using their website to book a flight on their planes! So now, you have to pay for the privilege of helping the airline make money and sell you a ticket. According the website, the fee is:
Passenger Usage Fee of $4.90 per traveling customer per one way travel applies to all reservations with the exception of those bookings created directly at Spirit Airlines’ airport locations. All fares are subject to change until confirmed and purchased.
So when you try to purchase by phone, you also pay that fee, in addition to whatever they are charging you to speak to someone. I called Spirit to compare prices, and the agent in India told me that he could offer me a better rate than the website (even though the recording I listened for 5 minuted said the opposite). He also told me that if I went to the website, I’d pay between $10 to $50 more than what he was offering me, and that there were no fees for booking over the phone.
I know he was just trying to make the sale, but he shouldn’t have to do it by misleading potential customers. Just to hear his reaction, I checked on the website the flights he was offering me for $239 per person, and the same flights cost $229 if purchased online. His tone quickly changed and told me to purchase it online but to hurry up because the price may no longer be available if I take too long.
I wish that Spirit and other airlines would stop with the misleading advertising, and the lowballing of prices. If it costs $250 to fly from one place to another, say so. Don’t advertise the flights for $50 and then tack on a million fees. On the Spirit flights I was looking at, taxes and fees were 30% of the total cost. The sad thing is, that’s not even close to the worse I’ve seen. On some international flights (especially those amazing fares to Europe you see advertised), fees can add up to more than 100% of the original fare. How is that allowed? Good question for our legislators…
In the meantime, you have no choice but to look closely at what you’re being charged for, and especially what you’re going to be charged for after you purchase the ticket (checking bags? Want a blanket?). Or, you can call your travel agent, who will do that homework for you and give you the best options overall.
Regards,Enrique Brener KC Travel N. Miami Beach, FL www.kctravel.jurni.net firstname.lastname@example.org 305-792-0618 FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171