Lies, Damn Lies, and Airline Press Releases

Spirit Airlines says it is sad at increasing its carry-on bag fee from $45 to $100, and hopes you won’t have to pay it.

It used to be the worst type of lie was to misuse statistics.  Some people claim we’re seeing a rash of such lies at present with all the opinion polling going on, trying to predict/influence the upcoming election.

However, I suggest there’s an even more damnable type of lie that is becoming all too common.  The Airline Press Release type lie.

It has become an art-form, to cloak an ugliness in a thin veneer of distorting lie, such as ‘Our passengers have told us they want …… and so we are responding to their wishes’ or ‘Our highest priority is passenger safety and comfort’ or ‘Most passengers will find these new charges actually cost them no more than before’, and so on through the list of lies that are often pressed into service.

Here’s a headline that sets a new high-water mark for pretending that chicken s**t is chicken soup – Spirit Airlines sent out a press release headed :

Spirit Doesn’t Want Customers to Pay $100 for a Bag at the Gate

Now you’d think that if Spirit didn’t want to charge its passengers $100 for a carry-on bag, there’d be no problem not doing so, and no need even for a press release.  All other airlines seem to avoid this ‘problem’ perfectly easily, don’t they.

But Spirit has a problem, it tells us.  Its policy of charging fees for larger carry-on bags is slowing down its boarding process, when it intercepts people with bags that need to be paid for, but for which the person has not pre-purchased the fee.  The cost to pay for a carry-on bag at the gate is currently $45.

So, to solve its ‘problem’, Spirit has decided to stop charging for carry-on bags.  Nope, that’s not what its headline means, at all.  Instead, Spirit has decided to increase its gate payment fee from $45 up to $100, although nowhere will you see any specific mention, in the press release, that they’ve more than doubled this fee, or that they’ve increased just about every other bag fee too, for both carry-on and checked bags.

But remember – Spirit doesn’t want you to have to pay that amount, and as they point out, it is all your fault there is a problem.  In a brilliant expression of hypocrisy, the airline says it will be sadly forced to charge you the $100 fee.  That’s an even better line than that used by one’s parents when withdrawing a privilege – ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you’.

If you’d like to know more, you can go to their website and click on the link ‘Our Optional Fees’ – a title which may well strike you as another outright and outrageous lie.  Perhaps they’d care to explain how the optional fee for checking a bag can be avoided (and please don’t say ‘travel without luggage’).  Or how the optional ‘Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations Fee’ can be also avoided (other than on a very few restricted fares that may not be available – see our earlier article here).  As for their ‘Passenger Usage Fee’, which can only be avoided by driving to an airport and buying a ticket there, that doesn’t sound very optional either.

Here’s the complete press release, in case you’re interested.

Spirit Doesn’t Want Customers to Pay $100 for a Bag at the Gate

 Customers Can Save Time and Money by Paying as Little as $20   in Advance

MIRAMAR, Fla., Oct. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Spirit Airlines’ (Nasdaq:SAVE) carry-on bag program — which includes priority boarding — has proven successful for customers and the airline. It has helped speed the boarding process, ensured sufficient overhead space is available for all carry-on bags, and it has helped reduce the airline’s fuel consumption rate by the equivalent of nearly six million gallons in the past year alone. The success of the program has allowed customers to pay for only the services that they use and it has permitted Spirit to continue lowering fares for its customers.

Unfortunately, some customers are still waiting until they reach the boarding gate to purchase their carry-on. This slows the boarding process for all customers, delays flights, increases costs for the company, and ultimately results in higher fares for everyone.

Starting November 6, 2012, customers who wait until the last minute to purchase their carry-on at the boarding gate will be charged $100. The $100 carry-on bag fee is intentionally set high to deter costly delay-causing gate activity.

Much lower priced options are available for those who plan ahead and reserve their bags in advance with prices from as little as $20.

“Our goal is for no customer ever to pay the $100 fee,” says Spirit’s Chief Operating Officer Tony Lefebvre. “Spirit offers our customers multiple opportunities to avoid this unnecessary fee and save money. By planning ahead and paying for bags before getting to the boarding gate, our customers are saving time at the airport and speeding up the boarding process. When our customers choose these time-saving, self-service options, our costs go down, and we can pass those savings along to our customers.”

Spirit says advance planning can bring significant savings to customers if they purchase their bags in advance online when making their reservation, when checking in online, at an airport kiosk, or at an airport ticket counter. Checked bags are available for as low as $20 and carry-ons for as little as $25 (including priority boarding).

Spirit’s “Bring Less, Pay Less” bag program passes the cost of handling bags solely to those bringing bags rather than have everyone subsidize these costs. Customers who bring less, pay less. That’s exactly what has happened at Spirit. Spirit’s customers have reduced the amount of baggage, saved money and helped the company conserve the equivalent of nearly six million gallons of fuel in the last year alone compared to the rate of consumption before the introduction of the program.

Spirit Bag Fees (effective November 6, 2012):


                       $9 Fare Club      Standard       Telephone        Airport Ticket      Boarding

                       Member Online       Online     Reservations      Counter or Kiosk       Gate

  —————-  ——————  ———–  —————  ——————–  ———

  Checked Bag              $20              $30            $35                 $45             $100

  —————-  ——————  ———–  —————  ——————–  ———

  Carry-on                 $25              $35            $40                 $50             $100

  —————-  ——————  ———–  —————  ——————–  ———

Spirit continues to offer customers one free personal item that fits under the seat free of charge. Also, a list of other items that are exempt from the carry-on bag fee can be found at

Spirit encourages customers to save the most time and money by reserving their bags online in advance at

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