Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Truth About Spirit Airlines Carry-On Baggage Fees

Since I fly Spirit so much, I feel like I have to be their one lone voice of defense in the world of the airline industry.

Want to know why I love Spirit? I'll tell you why.

I'm moving to Denver in 10 days, and I just purchased a one-way flight AND two checked bags for $100. Show me any other airpline where a similar flight would be possible. You can't, only Spirit can or will offer prices like that.

Though I understand that people get upset with Spirit because of their baggage fees, you have to understand, they have purpose, to increase efficiency.

Let's look at the carry-on fee that everyone complains about.

"$45 for a carry on? That's robbery!" scream the masses.

It's only $25 to check the same bag, even a bigger bag for that matter.

Did you every wonder why they charge MORE for carry-on luggage?

It's really quite simple, carry-on baggage slows down both the boarding and unboarding procedures and therefore reduces the possible number of legs a given aircraft can fly in a certain day, cutting into an airline's already slim profit margins.

Ponder this, how many times have you got called to board your flight and found yourself waiting in the jetway for 15 minute, wondering why there is such a hold-up?

I'll tell you, it's because of the people that are dragging on huge carry-ons, trying to get them to fit in the overheard bin, re-adjusting them, and overall slowing down the boarding.

By the time they even started the boarding process, all the checked baggage was already loaded into the aircraft. They start loading departing baggage the second they get the arriving luggage out of the cargo hold. Therefore, by encouraging people to check their luggage, instead of carrying it on, they can streamline boarding.

Case in point:

Imagine, for one minute, if no one had a carry on. People would walk into the aircraft, find their seat, sit down (and do the obligatory seat shuffle), the doors would latch and the flight would be taking off on time, if not earlier.

However, when every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a carry-on that they NEED to bring with them, they delay takeoff by 30 minutes by hindering everyone else from getting into their seat. Multiply that by 6 flights per aircraft per day, and carry-on loading time has added three extra hours of wasted time to the aircraft's usable hours. Those three hours could easily accommodate one more Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta flight for the day, adding a few more dollars to bottom line.

I can hear it already, people complaining that they don't feel like airlines should be able to make a decent profit by adding additional flights per day at the expense of carry-on bag fees, etc. Maybe you're one of those that is against the airline making a profit. You're perfectly entitled to your opinion.

However, are you also against landing before your scheduled arrival time?

Do you enjoy waiting for 20 minutes in the jet-way, when you could have already been taxing to the runway?

I didn't think so.

Please look beyond an airline making profit. Look at the fact that all those people with carry-on baggage are slowing down your flight.

So, the next time you're complaining about how horrible it is that Spirit charges for a carry-on, think about the fact that by getting people to check their luggage, they're helping ensure that you arrive to your destination on time.


PS- Just so you know, I have no affiliation with Spirit. Since I enjoy travel and fly them quite often (since I live in South Florida), I've just become sick and tired of hearing the complaints about them.

My last rant:

Don't like Spirit's lack of amenities during your flight?

Do you want "free" inflight food?

Do you want "free" refreshments and maybe some "free" entertainment?

Great, go fly another airline and pay the extra $150 for all those "free" in-flight amenities.

I'll happily take the $150 that flying Spirit saved me and go buy a nice four-course dinner when I land, on time, in my destination city.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Must Say, I Love Spirit Airlines

I'm at the airport too early, like always; the story of my life.

Growing up in a family where Dad always insisted that we arrive at the airport three hours early, even pre 9/11, I find it's hard habit to break.

So here I am, eating some half stale pizza in Orlando, waiting for a flight to Fort Lauderdale that hasnt even come up on the "Departures" board yet. I've got some time to burn. But hey, at least I know I'll have plenty of time to make it through security this time.

The line itself looks miserable, and the faces on people when they first see how the long the line is makes my stomach turn. I've been there, once, and it's a feeling you never want to have. It was in Fort Lauderdale a few years back, when I just made it onto my flight by the skin of my teeth.

Word to wise, if you plan on traveling from Miami Beach to Fort Lauderdale International Airport, and you're cheap enough, like me, to use public transportation, do yourself the favor of giving yourself more than 3 hours!

I have never missed a flight, due in part to my Dad's well-instilled "arrive early" value, but it was close that day. They saw the despair in my eyes when I told them my flight was leaving in 15 minutes and I had to catch a bus to Minneapolis, my college town, as soon as I landed in Chicago.

You're probably thinking,

"He flew JetBlue, they're so hip and love to help customers."


"Surely it was SouthWest, they're such a quality airline." 

Well you'd never guess it but the airline that won me over that day is the one everyone whines about, none other than Spirit Airlines.

Since that hot, South-Florida-sweaty(it's a special kind of sweaty), stressful day back in 2009 when Spirit customer service turned my horrible day into jubilation, I've been a loyal customer and I think they're one of the best airlines out there.

This post will tell you the story of Fort Lauderdale, and the next will tell you why I think Spirit is great, beyond the customer service.


I've been on various forms of public transportation for nearly 2.5 hours and I finally start to see the airplanes taking off out the window of the train, but I know I'm still 15 minutes away from checking in, and my flight leaves in an hour.

My stomach starts knotting up. If I miss this flight, I'm not getting back to Minneapolis for at least 3 days. I've got a bus waiting for me as soon as I get off the flight in Chicago, and from there it's an 8 hour ride to Minneapolis, my college town.  I NEED to make this flight.

I get off the shuttle from the train station, crash through the doors of the airport and my stomach falls out. The longest security line I've ever seen. An hour, minimum, just to get to security. I'm finished. I'll never make it. I have one hope, customer service.

As I patiently wait in line, two Long Island accented women are verbally destroying the poor customer service girl for Spirit. They're angry about the wait, they're angry about their luggage, they're angry about the airport's temperature, and in their eyes, it's all this poor girl's fault.

Being raised in the Midwest, where values and morals are instilled from an early age, I can't believe what I'm seeing. They're treating her like less than a human, and no one deserves that treatment.

It's my turn to talk with customer service. I take a deep breath and just be the nicest possible person I can be. I acknowledge the fact that I'm aware that I'm VERY late for my flight, but I also express my distress about the situation. I might not make it home if I don't make this flight. If she can help in any way, it would be greatly appreciated.

Having just dealt with such poor examples of the human race, I don't think she could even believe her ears when she heard me say please and thank you. She could see I was in need of help and she knew she was the answer.

As a smile sprang to her face, she asked, "Any bags to check?"

"None, just my carry on." I reply.

"Let's go!" was all I heard as she grabbed my hand and started leading me toward the outrageously long security line.

On her radio I hear her say, "Gate 23, I have the missing passenger Jones, I'm personally leading him through security." 

What would have been an hour wait in security and a guaranteed missed flight turned into VIP treatment.

She personally led me past the security lines to the metal dectors and sent me off with a big smile and a "Now go catch your flight!" 

As I ran towards the gate, another Spirit employee was waiting for me with a smile and a "We've been expecting you."

I stepped foot into the airplane, the door was closed, and we were pushing out of the gate before I could even sit down. Nearly to the minute of the scheduled departure time.

I wish I would have gotten her name, the Savior of Fort Lauderdale, because she deserves a raise. That kind of customer service is hard to find, in any industry, let alone the airline industry, and she is a model for others to follow.

This is also a lesson to all you people who immediately resort to insults and accusations as your way of expressing anger and grief. I'm sure those Long Island women missed their flight, and with how they treated that customer service girl, I'm okay with saying that I think they deserved it. A smile and some polite words might have gotten them on their flight like it did for me.