Spirit's Changing Online Booking Fee

Peter Thornton, November 30, 2011
Fares from Washington DC:

    Recently, Spirit Airlines changed their fee for booking on their website, dubbed the "Passenger Usage Fee", from $8.99 each way to $16.99 each way. On their "Optional Fees Chart" it shows that the fee is $8.99 to $16.99 per customer, each way. Until this week, we were only able to find the $16.99 each way fee and not anything lower other than flights to Panama or Colombia, which don't have the fee at all. However, this week we have found certain fares that have the lower $8.99 each way passenger usage fee. It appears to be one-way fares that end in a penny. (ex. $8.01, $20.01, etc...) With Spirit charging different online booking fees for different types of fares, it can be quite confusing to find the actual lowest total price for their fares.  

    For example, below is a screen shot showing two different searches from Chicago to New York after choosing the lowest available fares shown for each search. On the left, we searched using the $50 off promo code that Spirit is currently offering. After searching using the promo code, we chose $4 each way fares to get a total base fare of $8 after the $50 discount. However, with the "Passenger Usage Fee" (online booking fee) at $33.98, this method of searching yields a higher total price ($63.48) than if we search without using the $50 off promo code. On the right, we searched without any promo code and the lowest one-way fares to appear were $8.01 each way. Because these fares have the lower ($17.98) passenger usage fee, the total price ($55.40) is actually less than if using the promo code. So much for $50 off.  By the way, the only way to avoid the "Passenger Usage Fee", is to book your tickets at the airport.  Since this fee is per customer, each way, you could save quite a bit by making the trip to the airport to book your seats.

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