Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees Guide: (Carry-On, Checked) [2019]

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. 

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 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, international flights, and special equipment.

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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 your pay for your luggage; 2) how many bags you travel with; and 3) your $9 fare club membership.

You can generally expect to pay around $35 for a carry-on and $30 for your first checked bag. 

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How can I avoid the baggage fees?

There are a few different ways that you can avoid baggage fees with Spirit with credit cards.

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.

Capital One Venture

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.

American Express cards

Some American Express cards like the Platinum Card and the Premier Rewards Gold Card come with airline credits that can be used on Spirit Airlines.


Spirit Airlines personal item

Spirit 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 carryon or checked bag charge will apply.

Can you bring a backpack as a personal item?

You should be able to bring a backpack as long as it fits within the above dimensions.


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 the rates you see below could be different based on your destination.

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.

Bag-o-Tron

Spirit has the Spirit “Bag-o-Tron” which allows you to view baggage fees for your prospective trip.

But to save you some work, I’ve already pulled up an example of the fees for a flight from IAH to LAX. For other domestic flights your prices should be somewhere close what is found below.

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

As you can tell, the $9 Fare Club could certainly save you some money if you were committed to flying with Spirit Airlines many times and you could easily make up for the membership fee over time if you need carry-ons and checked bags.

Also, in case you were wondering, Frontier charges only $30 to $35 for carry-on and of course airlines like United, Delta, and American, all allow you to bring in a carry-on for free with a standard economy ticket.


Spirit Airlines checked baggage fees

The prices below are for one-way flights not roundtrip flights.

During Sprit.com Booking

  • 1st bag: $30
    • $9 Fare Club: $21
  • 2nd bag: $40
    • $9 Fare Club: $31
  • 3rd through 5th: $85
    • $9 Fare Club: $76

Before online check-in

  • 1st bag: $40
    • $9 Fare Club: $31
  • 2nd bag: $50
    • $9 Fare Club: $41
  • 3rd through 5th: $95
    • $9 Fare Club: $86

During online check-in

  • 1st bag: $40
    • $9 Fare Club: $31
  • 2nd bag: $50
    • $9 Fare Club: $41
  • 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

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:

  • $25 for the first checked bag
  • $35 for the second checked bag
  • $150 to $200 for the third checked bag ($200 for some international flights)

Those are only $5 cheaper so it’s not as bad as you might think. But you’ve really got to factor the baggage costs into your savings.

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:

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


Spirit Airlines checked bag restrictions

Spirit allows for a maximum of 62 linear inches (length + width + height; 158 cm) including handles and wheels and 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.

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 poundsthat’s an important difference to be aware of. 

Especially when you consider the prices for overweight luggage below.

Overweight

  • If your bag is between 40 and 50 pounds you’ll be charged $30 per bag
  • If your bag is between 51 and 70 pounds you’ll be charged $55 per bag
  • If your bag is between 71 and 100 pounds you’ll be charged $100 per bag

Oversized

  • If your bag is between 63-80 linear inches you’ll be charged $100
  • If your bag is over 80 linear inches you’ll be charged $150

That $30 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.


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 recommends that guests arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure.

For international flights, Spirit recommends that guests arrive at the airport at least three (3) hours prior to scheduled departure.


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.

Compare this to the Frontier Airlines policy that allows active military members free unlimited baggage and extends that perk to the spouses as well.

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

South America

  • A maximum of one (1) 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 (1) 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

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

  • One (1) 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.

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 in their contract of carriage. 


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 internaitonal travel.

For international travel, you must notify Spirit in writing as soon as possible after discovery of the damage, and no later than seven (7) 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.


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.

But if you were 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