Spirit Airlines generated quite a bit of commotion this week by announcing that it would soon start charging passengers for carry-on luggage.
Every piece of carry-on luggage stored overhead will now cost $45 each way. The price drops to $30 if purchased in advance.
This is a controversial move but a smart one. Spirit is cheap. You don’t fly Spirit for the meals (there aren’t any), the frequent service (it isn’t) or high-minded branding (it is just cheap). You pay for coffee on Spirit. And water. But I checked Orbitz, and it costs $220 to fly from round trip from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit. This is a lot less than the price on American, $328.
Charging for carry-on bags will let Spirit keep fares below almost every other carrier. A $45 fee is huge when tickets are running $200 or $300.
This move will force United, American and the other full service airlines to think about charging, too. I suspect they won’t follow, at least not yet. But the full service airlines will have to start delivering on the promise of full service to hold share against aggressive, low-price upstarts like Spirit.
I suspect we’ll see more of these moves from Spirit and other low-cost airlines. Why not charge to use the bathroom? Why not charge extra for a window seat? Standing room only isn’t a completely outrageous idea, either. That would get a bit old on a 13 hour flight to Hong Kong, but on a 30 minute hop from Chicago to Detroit, well, why not?
I believe Ryanair was seriously considering charging for toilet use on some of their shortest routes. It was not very well received by the public but certainly shows the intense interest on reducing costs as much as humanly possible to decrease prices for customers.
David—That is indeed the case. I love Ryanair’s clear relentless focus on price. Now that is a brand with a clear positioning!
Unfortunately, charging for bathroom use is being done already…. Ryan Air (discussed in The Operations Room).