Spirit Airlines says a new $100 fee will discourage customers from making last-minute baggage decisions.
The airline on Nov. 6 will implement the fee for carry-on bags paid for at the boarding gate, nearly doubling the current charge of $45.
The change is the latest in Spirit Airlines’ industry-first policy of charging for carry-on bags, which were long considered an industry freebie.
Spirit is the only year-round carrier at Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township.
The higher charge aims to reduce boarding times and save fuel, Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said Monday.
“It’s intentionally set high to deter people,” she said.
Spirit started charging for carry-on bags in 2010.
“We found customers are bringing less, and that has had a huge impact on fuel. Fuel continues to increase, and what we found is when customers bring less, it brings down the fuel consumption rate,” Pinson said. “We’ve been able to save the equivalent of 6 million gallons.”
The airline is also raising fees for prepaid carry-on luggage.
The current bag charges of $20 for $9 Fare Club members, $30 for online orders and $35 for telephone reservations will increase by $5 each on Nov. 6.
The price for carry-on bags paid for at airport ticket counters or kiosks will increase from $40 to $50.
The Miramar, Fla.-based airline will continue to allow one free personal item that can fit under the seat.
Although Spirit is one of a few airlines to charge for carry-on bags, a la carte surcharges from checked luggage to change fees are helping boost the airline industry, said George Hobica, founder of New York-based airfarewatchdog.com, which tracks air prices.
Additional fees are becoming more prevalent.
“It’s really making the difference between life and death for these airlines,” he said.
“When the airlines raise fares, people stay home or drive or walk or take the bus or train. They are less likely not to buy the ticket if the true cost of the trip is unbundled. The airlines just took a page from the cruise industry, the hotel industry and the restaurant industry,” he said.
Spirit has been experiencing tremendous growth from nonticket revenue, which includes baggage, advanced seat selections and other added-on fees.
In the first half of 2012, nonticket revenue grew by $81 million, or 46 percent more than the same period last year, according to unaudited figures filed in July with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
Passenger revenue increased by almost $58 million, or nearly 17 percent, during that time.
Spirit’s average ticket revenue per passenger was nearly $79 in the first half of the year, a 4 percent decline from the same period in 2011, the company reported.
Meanwhile, the average nonticket revenue per passenger was almost $52, a 20 percent increase.
The company’s stock rose 0.7 percent to $17.20 on Monday.
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