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If you’ve booked a flight on Spirit Airlines recently, you may have been thrilled at the cost of the airfare — but there’s no doubt that a little sticker shock set in when realizing how many additional fees the airline charges.
If you’re looking to bring luggage with you on your flight, you may be wondering how Spirit’s baggage fees work, how much they cost and how to avoid paying them.
Spirit baggage fees: The basics
When it comes to the types of baggage included with your ticket on Spirit Airlines, there’s not much to say. One personal item can be brought for free, but a carry-on bag or a checked bag will cost extra.
Bag prices for Spirit aren’t especially transparent. Rather than having one dedicated chart, Spirit’s website directs you to its baggage calculator, called the Bag-O-Tron, where you can research the cost of bringing a bag for your flight.
Paying for a carry-on bag also entitles you to complimentary shortcut boarding, which puts you in the Zone 2 boarding group.
So, how much are Spirit Airlines’ baggage fees? We did a test search to see what kind of fees to expect.
For a flight from Austin to Atlanta in October 2023, you’ll pay from $48 to $100 for a bag, depending on the kind of bag, whether you’re a Saver$ Club member and when you purchase the add-on.
» Learn more: The guide to Free Spirit by Spirit Airlines
Different kinds of bags on Spirit
Spirit has three standard bag sizes for its flights:
Personal item: 8 inches deep by 14 inches wide by 18 inches high.
Carry-on bag: 10 inches deep by 18 inches wide by 22 inches high.
Checked bag: 62 linear inches (all dimensions added together) and less than 40 pounds.
It’s also possible to check overweight bags of up to 100 pounds and 80 linear inches, though there may be exceptions based on the type of luggage you’re checking (e.g., sports equipment).
» Learn more: The guide to earning Free Spirit points
Other Spirit fees
Spirit keeps its airfare costs as low as possible by charging ancillary fees for almost everything. Here are some extras you can choose:
Seat selection: $1 to $200.
Big Front Seats: $12 to $750.
Spirit Saver$ Club membership: $69.95 to $129.90.
Boarding pass printing (at airport): $25.
Unaccompanied minors: $150 each way.
Pet fee: $125 per pet container each way.
Reward redemption fee: Free when flights are booked 60 or more days before departure; otherwise up to $99.
Shortcut boarding. $7.99 to $9.99 each way.
Food and beverage on board: $1 to $15.
» Learn more: What you need to know about Spirit Airlines fees
Buying bundles: Just For You and Bundle It
While it’s possible to purchase each addition separately, Spirit also allows you to buy bundles. These bundles can save money versus paying for each item, though they may not be worth it if you’re only looking for one or two options.
There are two bundles: Just For You and Bundle It.
Just For You offers a customized bundle based on your booking. Its options can include seat selection, priority boarding and either a checked or carry-on bag.
The Bundle It package includes more amenities such as seat selection, priority boarding, a checked bag (up to 50 pounds), a carry-on bag and the ability to change your flight once for free.
» Learn more: How to get a Spirit Airlines refund
How do I avoid paying baggage fees on Spirit Airlines?
Bringing anything larger than a personal item can result in some hefty costs for flyers. However, there are a couple of different ways to avoid paying baggage fees on Spirit Airlines.
First, Spirit has two tiers of elite status: Gold and Silver. Silver is earned after accruing 2,000 Free Spirit Qualifying Points (SQPs) in a year, while Gold is earned after 5,000 SQPs.
Those who have earned Gold elite status are entitled to several benefits, including a free checked bag, a free carry-on bag, complimentary seat selection and waived pet fees.
Spirit Airlines will occasionally offer the ability to status match to its elite program, which can be a fast and convenient way to snag Gold elite status.
If you don’t fly Spirit Airlines frequently enough to earn elite status, consider instead taking advantage of the airline fee credit offered by many different travel credit cards. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a $200 annual airline fee credit, which can be used to reimburse fees assessed by Spirit, including baggage fees. Terms apply.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card works in much the same way, though its annual credit is $100.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
How do Spirit bag fees compare with other airlines?
In NerdWallet’s annual comparison of best airlines, Spirit ranks nearly last (eighth out of the nine airlines analyzed) when it comes to fees. It beats out only Frontier Airlines, another low-cost competitor, and falls far behind other full-service airlines.
The average bag fees were $56 for a checked bag and $60 for a carry-on bag, just edging Frontier for highest baggage fees.
» Learn more: Frontier vs. Spirit: The battle of the budget airlines
The bottom line
Spirit’s airfare costs can be shockingly low, but this is only because it upsells all of its amenities.
If you’re happy flying bare-bones, this can be a great option to save money. But if you’re the kind of person who brings along bags, costs can add up quickly.
Choose to bundle your ancillary options to save money, or otherwise consider using a credit card that’ll reimburse you for these types of expenses.
(Top photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card