Interesting Way to Avoid Spirit Checked Bag Fees?

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My parents have another Spirit Airlines flight coming up soon, but this time there will potentially be a major change in their plans compared to their multiple previous low-cost Spirit flights. This time they may need more gear than they can fit in their 16 x 14 x 12 inch free personal carry-ons, such as small backpacks as shown below.

Avoiding bag fees with small personal items!

Avoiding bag fees with small personal items!

Since on this trip they are planning to ski (for just $25!) in temps that are likely in the 15 – 20 degree range, they may well need to fork over the cash to check or carry-on a larger bag to avoid, you know, freezing. Or, they could wear all their ski gear on the plane…that would make for a funny photo if nothing else.

Jeans may not cut it this year!

Jeans may not cut it this year!

Is it Cheaper to Buy Your Bag a Seat on Spirit?

While researching the current Spirit Airlines baggage fees and coming up with cheapest way for them to accomplish this goal, I started to wonder if they could just buy their bag a seat instead of paying the $30 – $100 fee that comes with checked or carry-on bags. I have personally flown next to musical instruments and similar that have their own seat on other airlines, so this seems like it should be possible.

I headed to the Spirit’s Contract of Carriage to see what their exact rules are about buying a seat for a bag and it states:

7.2.7. Seat Baggage
An item of baggage may occupy a seat, subject to applicable regulations, provided the customer accompanies the property, the item meets specified dimensions, the item can be properly secured by the seatbelt, reservations are made in advance, and the applicable fare is paid. Items accepted as seat baggage cannot block placards or signs. Animals are NOT accepted as seat baggage.

It looks to me like that is a yes, though I don’t know how common or well received this course of action would be in practice for a regular piece of luggage instead of an instrument or similar. Given how low Spirit flight prices can sometimes be, I am 100% certain there are situations when it would be cheaper to simply buy your bag its own seat as opposed to paying for it as a piece of checked or carry-on luggage. It would also probably make your ride more pleasant than having a person squeezed next to you!

Since my parents are close to departure fares, are higher and this wouldn’t be cheaper for them on this trip, but I would love to know if anyone has gone this route!


Permitted Spirit Free Personal Carry-Ons Getting Smaller

While researching this option I also noticed that effective April 1, 2016, free personal items may not exceed 17 x 13 x 8 inches including handles and wheels instead of the current limits of 16 x 14 x 12.

Essentially this means that overall size limit for permitted free carry-on personal items is shrinking for Spirit in the near future. I don’t know how this will impact things in practice, if at all, but it is worth noting that the rule itself is changing for travel effective April 1, 2016.

What do you do to minimize bag fees when you have to bring more than can easily fit in a small personal carry-on?

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  1. Cool idea. What if you just got a big cello or bass case that has a wheel and instead of putting an instrument inside you could pack clothes and other items like a normal suitcase? Should solve any FA or gate agent from putting up a stink….

  2. The luggage policy is the very reason I don’t fly Spirit.They are good in a pinch if you can travel with a minimum of stuff but otherwise they nickle-and-dime you to the point that the cheep fair is no real bargain.
    I am a photographer and I always travel with two bags. One suitcase and a “Personal” bag that holds camera, lenses and laptop. I have a tripod that fits in my suitcase along with it’s case so I avoid having to cary a third case on board. This gets me on board anyone I want to fly. Spirit’s bargain fairs are nice, if you are a student and you are going home to visit your family where most of your stuff is anyway, but otherwise it really doesn’t work for me.

  3. I usually buy my Spirit tickets at the airport counter but how would you buy a seat for a bag online? Online purchases require your name and DOB.

    • @ Roger- I can understand needing to pay the $11 fee to sit next to family or children, but what’s the problem with your bag? I’m sure it will be fine in a middle seat by itself somewhere else…

    • My folks have never paid to get seats together, but have always had them assigned that way. With a bag I believe you book it the same way you would if you needed an extra seat as a person of size with your name on both tickets. Don’t quote me on that, but I think that is the case.

    • We’ve never paid extra to sit next to each other, but have always been assigned next to each other at online check in. It’s important to check in as soon as you can at the 24 hour window to hopefully get seats next to each other since the longer you wait, the more seats are taken. But the system is designed to still assign people who bought tickets together to sit together.

    • Sitting next to children is not an additional fee – it is automated by the system. I have 3 children and have never paid to sit next to each other or pick our seats and we always are assigned together. I was informed of this from the staff at the ticket counter. Have NEVER had a problem. However, for a bag (unless with reservations with children) you probably would have to pay.

  4. Where did you see that the Spirit personal item size is changing? I can’t find this info ANYWHERE on, but have only seen it on blogs (seems to be that was the first to say something) ….but there isn’t anything “official” about it on Spirit. It’s a little worrying since we’re flying in May and all of our exisiting bags fit the old standard size and I need to know if we need to buy new bags.

  5. Wow, the new 2016 dimensions were on the Spirit website, and now they have dissappeared (I clicked on the same links as before). I wonder if this was someone’s idea of an April Fools joke. And I just bought my daughter a new bag that complies with the “new” requirements. 🙁

    • Steve,

      I contacted Spirit since I needed to figure this out for an upcoming trip and I’ve received confirmation from a Spirit airlines customer service rep that the new 2016 dimensions will no longer be in effect (see below):

      Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for contacting us. It is my pleasure to assist you, our valued customer.

      The dimension required for the Personal Item will remain as 16″x14″x12″. The new dimension posted on the website will not be in effect anymore.

      I hope this information was helpful. If there’s anything else that I can do for you, feel free to contact me.

      Thanks for choosing Spirit!

      • They decided to not change the sizes after posting new sizes? Ha! How interesting…and I guess good in the end. I did look around this morning and couldn’t find the “new” sizes.

      • Yes, Spirit actually reached out to me today saying they are no longer changing the bag sizes and for me to update this post accordingly…which I will do shortly. So, personal items stay the same size.

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