Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees Guide: (Carry-On, Checked) [2020]

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Spirit Airlines is one of the most popular ultra low cost carriers (ULCCs) but with its low prices can come some very high baggage fees that cut into your savings.

This comprehensive article will give you the details for all of the Spirit Airlines baggage fees for carry-ons and checked bags and show you how you can avoid those fees or at least minimize them. 

I’ll also get into some details about special rules for pets, military members, international flights, and special equipment.

Interested in finding out the hottest travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 


What are the Spirit Airlines baggage fees?

Spirit Airlines allows one free personal item but charges different baggage fees for carry-on luggage and checked luggage based on: 1) when you pay for your luggage; 2) your flight route; and 3) your $9 Fare Club membership.

Although prices vary, you can generally expect to pay around $38 for a carry-on and $33 for your first checked bag if you pay for your baggage fees at booking. If you fail to pay for your baggage fees at booking, those fees can be much higher. Keep reading below for more details on how to get the lowest fees!


How can I avoid the Spirit Airlines baggage fees?

If you want to avoid baggage fees or at least cut them down, there are a few different ways that you can avoid baggage fees with Spirit Airlines via credit cards.

Credit cards to consider

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the hottest travel rewards credit cards. It earns 3X the points on dining and travel and comes with a host of valuable benefits. One of these perks is a $300 travel credit that can be used on anything that codes as travel, including baggage fees for Spirit Airlines. 

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

CAPITAL ONE VENTURE benefits

One of my favorite cards to use to cover miscellaneous travel purchases is the Capital One Venture card. It’s a popular credit card that comes with an early spending bonus of $500 after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. It earns 2% cash back on all purchases toward travel and the points can be used to cover virtually any travel purchase like baggage fees.

American Express cards

Some American Express cards like the Platinum Card and the Gold Card come with airline credits that can be used on Spirit Airlines. You’ll need to choose Spirit as your airline before activating the credit but it doesn’t take very long to do and these can save you $100 to $200! 

$9 Fare Club

Spirit also has the $9 Fare Club which is a membership club that will cost you $59.95 for the first year. That club will get you special discounts on fares and things like baggage fees. Read more about the $9 fare club here. 


What is the Spirit Airlines personal item policy?

Spirit Airlines allows all passengers one free personal item. This is usually a smaller bag like a purse, laptop bag, etc. The personal item must comply with the following measurements:

  • 8” Depth
  • 18” Width
  • 14” Height

Any item that exceeds these dimensions is no longer considered a personal item and a carry-on or checked bag charge will apply. You should be able to bring a backpack as long as it fits within the above dimensions.


What are the Spirit Airlines carry-on fees?

Just like Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines charges you baggage fees based on when you add the baggage to your trip itinerary.

Bag prices also vary based on dates of travel, route, and channel of purchase. So to make things easier on you, Spirit has the “Bag-o-Tron” which allows you to view baggage fees for your prospective trip.

You can find the Bag-o-Tron here.

I used the Spirit “Bag-o-Tron” to show you some baggage fee prices for a flight from IAH to LAX. You can see how the prices increase as you get closer to departure.  

During Sprit.com Booking

  • $9 Fare Club: $26
  • Standard: $35

Before online check-in

  • $9 Fare Club: $36
  • Standard: $45

During online check-in

  • $9 Fare Club: $36
  • Standard: $45

Airport, group desk, reservation center

  • $55

At gate

  • $65

Other baggage fee prices

I also researched some prices for some other destinations so that you can get a better sense of how the prices might fluctuate a little bit. All of the following prices are based on prices when paying for baggage fees at booking.

Atlanta to Boston

  • Carry-on: $38

Chicago to Los Angeles

  • Carry-on: $36

Houston to Philadelphia

  • Carry-on: $38

Orlando to Las Vegas

  • Carry-on: $38

San Diego to Baltimore

  • Carry-on: $38

So generally you will be paying around $36-$38 for a carry-on when you fly Spirit Airlines. Remember that unless you are flying a basic economy fare you will get a free carry-on bag for all of the major airlines such as United, American, and Delta.

Thus, if you need to fly with a carry-on you should subtract around $36-$38 from the airfare when comparing prices between legacy carriers and Spirit Airlines.


Spirit Airlines checked baggage fees

I did some research and looked at the prices for flights between Houston in Los Angeles and here are the prices that I found for Spirit Airlines checked baggage fees for one way flights. 

During Sprit.com Booking

  • 1st bag: $31
    • $9 Fare Club: $22
  • 2nd bag: $41
    • $9 Fare Club: $32
  • 3rd through 5th: $85
    • $9 Fare Club: $76

Before online check-in

  • 1st bag: $41
    • $9 Fare Club: $32
  • 2nd bag: $51
    • $9 Fare Club: $42
  • 3rd through 5th: $95
    • $9 Fare Club: $86

During online check-in

  • 1st bag: $41
    • $9 Fare Club: $32
  • 2nd bag: $51
    • $9 Fare Club: $42
  • 3rd through 5th: $95
    • $9 Fare Club: $86

Airport, group desk, reservation center

  • 1st bag: $50
  • 2nd bag: $60
  • 3rd through 5th: $100

At gate

  • 1st bag: $65
  • 2nd bag: N/A
  • 3rd through 5th: N/A

Other baggage fee prices

I also researched some prices for some other destinations so that you can get a better sense of how the prices might fluctuate a little bit. All of the following prices are based on prices when paying for baggage fees at booking.

Atlanta to Boston

  • First checked bag: $33

Chicago to Los Angeles

  • First checked bag: $31

Houston to Philadelphia

  • First checked bag: $33

Orlando to Las Vegas

  • First checked bag: $33

San Diego to Baltimore

  • First checked bag: $33

So generally you will be looking to pay $33 for your first checked bag if you pay for your baggage fees at booking. 

The prices for checked bags aren’t too far off what other airlines offer assuming you add those bags at booking. For example, take a look at United’s checked baggage fees:

  • $30 for the first checked bag
  • $40 for the second checked bag
  • $150 to $200 for the third checked bag ($200 for some international flights)

Remember, airlines like Southwest Airlines offer two free checked bags so even if your Spirit airfare was cheaper, it still might be worth it to go with Southwest if you needed to check bags.


Spirit Airlines carry-on restrictions

Your carry-on bag can be a maximum of 22 x 18 x10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm) including handles and wheels. Pieces exceeding these dimensions must become checked baggage.

Unlike Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines does not publish a weight limit for their luggage.

Liquids

The same TSA standards apply to Spirit Airlines flights and you can review a list provided by the TSA of permitted and prohibited items which may be included in carry-on baggage including the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.

Free carry-on items

The following items do not count towards a guest’s carry-on allowance.

These exempt articles include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Assist pet carrier when traveling with assist/service animal
  • Camera
  • Crutches/Canes/Braces or other prosthetic device upon which the guest is dependent
  • Guest assistive devices & service animals
  • Food for consumption on board the flight
  • Infant bag, when traveling with the infant
  • Infant/Child Car Seats, when the child is carried in the seat
  • One Duty Free box or bag containing Duty Free items
  • Outer garments (coats/hats/wraps)
  • Reading material for the flight
  • Stroller, when the child is carried in the stroller
  • Umbrella


Spirit Airlines checked bag restrictions

Spirit allows for a maximum of 62 linear inches (length + width + height; 158 cm) including handles and wheels and a maximum of 40 pounds in weight (18.1 kg).

Any bag that exceeds these dimensions or weight limit is considered oversized/overweight and has a corresponding charge (seen below).

Spirit will not accept bags that weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kg) or that measure more than 80 linear inches (203 cm) in overall dimensions.

These limitations are similar to Frontier but notice that Frontier allows you to check in bags that weigh up to 50 pounds while Spirit Airlines limits you to only 40 pounds.

Overweight

  • If your bag is between 40 and 50 pounds you’ll be charged +$35 per bag
  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds you’ll be charged +$60 per bag
  • If your bag is between 71 and 100 pounds you’ll be charged +$100 per bag

That $35 fee for a bag that weighs 40 to 50 pounds is a major factor. A couple taking a roundtrip could save $120 by going with Frontier if they had a bag weighing 45 pounds so always consider this. Just remember that most airlines allow you to check bags weighing up to 50 pounds. 

Oversized

  • If your bag is between 63-80 linear inches you’ll be charged +$100 per bag.
  • If your bag is over 80 linear inches you’ll be charged +$150 per bag (only special items allowed).

 


When can you check-in bags for Spirit Airlines?

You usually will be able to check-in two to three hours prior to your flight.

For domestic flights, Spirit Airlines recommends that guests arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure. For international flights, Spirit Airlines recommends that guests arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to scheduled departure.


Boarding pass fees — don’t get surprised!

One thing to watch out for when flying Spirit Airlines is that you can get charged for simply printing out your boarding pass.

The prices can range from $2 to $10 per boarding pass printed out and you can see the fees below. If you would like to avoid these fees the best thing to do is to print your pass at home or pull up your boarding pass via email or through the app.

Boarding pass printed at home

  • Free

Boarding pass printed by Airport Kiosk

  • $2 per boarding pass printed

Boarding pass printed by Airport Agent

  • $10 per boarding pass printed

Spirit Airlines military baggage fees

For active duty military traveling on Spirit, they will provide two free checked bags and a free carry-on (in addition to the already free personal item).

The U.S. military member should arrive early enough to have their bags checked at the counter, and present their U.S. military ID.

This benefit does not extend to spouses of military members!

Read more about the Spirit Airlines military member luggage policy here


Spirit International Baggage Rules

If you’re flying to certain international destinations you need to be aware of some of the special restrictions. Some of these restrictions are in effect all year while others only go into effect during the peak of winter.

Always, double check to see what the latest rules are because new routes are always popping up.

All year

The following rules are in effect when flying to South America (Lima, Peru (LIM)). 

  • A maximum of one checked item will be allowed per guest.
  • Overweight items may not exceed the maximum weight limit of 50lbs (23kg) and are subject to overweight baggage charges.
  • Oversized items may not exceed 80 linear inches (203cm) in overall dimensions and are subject to oversized baggage charges.
  • Certain items (e.g. Sporting Equipment) may exceed 80 linear inches in overall dimensions; however, the item may not weight more than 50 lbs (23kg). This item counts towards the maximum of one checked item allowed per person. Separate charges may apply.
  • From December 1st through January 10th, items that exceed 80 linear inches will not be accepted.

December 1st – January 10th

The following rules are in effect when flying to all international destinations. 

During this time you will be limited to the restrictions below when flying to the destinations listed below.

  • One checked item will be accepted per person.
  • Additional checked items may be purchased on a first-come first-serve basis.
  • Overweight items may not exceed 70lbs (32kg) and are subject to overweight baggage charges.
  • Oversized items may not exceed 80 linear inches (203cm) in overall dimensions and are subject to oversized baggage charges.

Some of the international destinations may include the following:

Caribbean

  • Aruba, Aruba (AUA)
  • Kingston, Jamaica (KIN)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
  • Port au Prince, Haiti (PAP)
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ)
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI)
  • St. Maarten, A.N. (SXM)

Mexico

  • Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Mexico (SJD)
  • Cancun, Mexico (CUN)

Central America

  • Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA)
  • Managua, Nicaragua (MGA)
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY)
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP)
    San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL)
  • San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)

South America

  • Armenia, Colombia (AXM)
  • Bogota, Colombia (BOG)
  • Cartagena, Colombia (CTG)
  • Medellin, Colombia (MDE)

Sports equipment and special items

Spirit Airlines provides a a breakdown of how you can travel with different items like sporting equipment and special items in their contract of carriage

That PDF will show you the regulations and prices for many random objects that you might be traveling with such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Antlers
  • Archery Equipment
  • Artistic Items
  • Balls/ Balloons
  • Baseball Equipment
  • Bicycles
  • Bowling Equipment
  • Camping Gear (Items include but are not limited to: Backpacks, sleeping bags, and knapsacks)
  • Ceramics/ Chinaware/ Glass
  • Electric Skateboards & Hover Boards
  • Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes)
  • Firearms & Ammunitions
  • Fishing Equipment
  • Golf Equipment
  • Kayak, Boat, Canoes
  • Lithium Ion Batteries
  • Musical Instruments (e.g. violins, flutes, guitars, etc.)
  • Photographic Equipment
  • Ski Equipment (Water or Snow)
  • Scuba Diving Equipment
  • Skateboards
  • Smart Bags / Battery powered Baggage
  • Snowboards, Wakeboards, Boogie boards, Body boards, and Kiteboards
  • Surfing Equipment
  • And many other items 

Spirit Airlines pet policy fee

Spirit Airlines will charge you $110 each way (compared to the $75 per way charged by Frontier).

On domestic flights, Spirit will only accept domestic dogs, cats and in some cities small household birds including parrots, finches, canaries and parakeets.

Birds that are not considered household birds are farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, birds of prey, or flightless birds.

Birds are not accepted to and from cities in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

Note that Spirit Airlines does NOT accept pets in cabin for travel on international flights except in the case of service animals, emotional support animals or psychiatric animals.

Also, Spirit Airlines does NOT accept animals as cargo or as checked baggage.

Read more about their pet policy here.


What if my bags are lost or damaged?

In the event your baggage does not arrive at your destination with you, Spirit asks that you file a report to immediately initiate a search for the mishandled luggage.

If a bag/item is delayed, lost, damaged or pilfered, a Spirit Airlines representative must be notified and a report must be filed in person, within four hours of arrival of the flight.

That’s a big difference from Frontier who gives you 12 hours to file your claim.

But they do give you a much longer time frame for international travel. For international travel, you must notify Spirit in writing as soon as possible after discovery of the damage, and no later than seven days from receipt of checked baggage.

The Luggage Resolution office may be reached Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, Eastern Standard Time at 1- 877-888-5926, extension 7004.


Spirit Airlines coupons

You can search for Spirit Airlines coupons here and here. At times, I have seen special discounts for baggage fees, such as 50% off when joining the $9 Fare Club.


Spirit seat selection fees

Spirit will assign you a seat for free but if you want to choose a specific seat, you’ll have to pay for that.

The prices vary for seat selection and below are the ranges you can expect to find:

  • Spirit Assigned Seating at Check In: Free
  • Customer-Requested Seat Assignments / Regular Seats: $1 to $50
  • Big Front Seats (in advance): $12 to $150
  • Big Front Seats (onboard upgrades—depending on flight length): $25 to $175

Final word

Overall, Spirit has stricter guidelines for baggage fees than Frontier so you need to be extra careful when flying with them when it comes to the weight of your checked baggage. 

But if you are well-versed in all of their different rules and you frequently fly with them, you can actually save a decent amount of money with the $9 Fare Club. 

Cover photo by Prayitno via Flickr

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