Everything You Need to Know About Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees

Spirit's baggage fees can be a bit of a shock if you don't plan ahead.

Spirit Airlines Baggage
Photo: Getty Images

There's no avoiding it. Unless you plan on spending your vacation in the nude, or simply purchasing a new wardrobe while abroad, baggage is an essential (if sometimes aggravating) part of flying. And extra baggage fees are more common than not.

But the more you know, the greater your chances of avoiding sticker shock — especially when it comes to budget carriers like Spirit Airlines that charge for carry-on bags. But Spirit's handy online baggage calculator, coupled with a little extra planning, can help you save big.

What's the deal with Spirit's baggage fees?

Spirit's baggage fees — for both carry-on bags and checked luggage up to 40 pounds — vary depending on the length of the flight, the date of departure, and the method by which you book your flight.

Since Spirit considers any luggage over 40 pounds overweight, those extra pairs of shoes you want to bring along could add on some hefty fees: A bag weighing 41 to 50 pounds costs an additional $50, and luggage weighing 51 to 100 pounds is an additional $75.

So how can I save money on Spirit's baggage fees?

You'll save the most on baggage fees if you know what luggage you're bringing at the time you book your flight and you book directly on Spirit's website.

Another way to save on baggage fees? Join the Spirit Saver$ Club rewards program. This will give you discounts on fees for seat selection and Spirit Airlines features like Shortcut Security, Shortcut Boarding, and Flight Flex.

Can I avoid paying Spirit's baggage fees?

You can't really avoid baggage fees unless you're traveling with only one personal item that measures no more than 18 by 14 by 8 inches — whether that's a laptop bag, a purse, or a shopping bag.

How do I find out how much I need to pay in baggage fees?

To help travelers calculate their expected baggage expenses, the Spirit Airlines website has a tool called the "Bag-O-Tron" that details baggage fees as you're planning a trip. Simply enter your departure and arrival airport, along with projected travel dates, and the tool spits out the baggage fees that apply to your itinerary.

We tested this tool on a potential summer trip to Los Angeles from Boston. On the long weekend, mid-month (July 14-17) dates we selected, a carry-on bag on the outgoing flight would cost $49, and your first checked bag would cost $43 — if you pay for your baggage fees when you book the flight on the Spirit Airlines website. A second checked bag would cost $62.

Those fees would go up to $55 for carry-on, $49 for first checked, and $68 for second checked if you book your trip, but wait to pay for the bags later — at any point before the online check-in process. The prices go up even more if you choose not to pay for baggage until the check-in process or at the gate.

If you're a member of the Spirit Saver$ Club, each of the quoted fees above decreases by $7.

As always, any bag that's carried on or checked must fit within the airline's size requirements.

Why doesn't Spirit just bundle the baggage fee with the airfare?

That's the whole point of budget air carriers: You only pay for what you need. If you want to go truly bare-bones — no seat selection, no priority boarding, no checked luggage — you can. And you'll save a chunk of change — all the more to spend on good eats and souvenirs at your vacation destination.

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