Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines said Tuesday that it would be the first carrier to charge for carry-on luggage, the latest step in de-bundling products and services traditionally included in the price of a ticket.
The Miramar airline said the new policy would help reduce its fares further. The company also raised its fee for a second check-on bag.
"Bring less; pay less. It's simple," said Chief Operating Officer Ken McKenzie in a statement.
For flights on or after Aug. 1, Spirit said it will charge passengers $45 for a carry-on bag, or $30 if they register the bag ahead of time either online or on the phone. Members of the airline's $9 Club Fare will be charged $20.
Passengers are allowed just one carry-on bag.
Spirit raised its second check-bag fee to $45 from $25 when checked in at the airport. The first check-bag fee is held at $25.
The new rules encourage customers to check on more of their luggage, which Spirit says will help with efficiency.
"I think this is more of an operations move to speed up boarding and deplaning," said Terry Trippler, an analyst with Rules to Know, a travel advisory. "Just get in and sit down. If you shave just 15 minutes off of boarding you are shortening your turnaround time, and that's utilizing your equipment to the maximum."
"The real question is will other airlines follow," said Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica.
Major legacy carriers such as American parent AMR Corp. and Delta Air Lines are likely watching customer reaction. Legacy carriers could likely add such a fee on their domestic routes while excluding their frequent-flier members, which represent the bulk of their core revenue.
Since 2008, airlines have been adding checked-on baggage fees to offset higher fuel costs and declining ticket sales.
For the third quarter, the latest data available, revenue from checked-on baggage fees exceeded $700 million, up 11 percent from the year-ago period, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
In the same time period, average fares fell 14.4 percent.
"The other question is when will more shoes drop," Hobica added, referring to the need of carriers to increase revenue further in a industry that's projected to post a loss for the third year in a row.
Airlines could still charge customers for using a credit or debit cards, or eliminate airport check-in counter staff completely, with passengers instead showing up at the airport with a printed boarding pass and paid luggage already paid for, Hobica said.

source: jacksonville.com
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