What’s ahead in airline fares? Ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines is introducing Penny Plus fares and has reduced its checked-bag fees exclusively for its $9 Fare Club members. The airline said it reduced its lowest fare by over $40 each way on average. Members of Spirit’s $9 Fare Club now pay as low as a penny plus fuel, taxes and fees for their reservation. The real questions are if a $20 to $30 charge for carry on bags and if other airlines will follow Spirit’s move.
“Our new Penny Plus fares are the best value in travel, and with over 1 million seats available, they are not hard to find” says Barry Biffle, Spirit’s CMO. Penny Plus fares are as low as 1 cent plus fuel, taxes and fees, and are exclusive to Spirit’s $9 Fare Club members.
Fares are each way based on roundtrip purchase, and roundtrip travel is required, but these fares may be combined with other valid and applicable Spirit Airlines fares on other dates of travel. A 21-day advance purchase required.
Spirit’s new bag policy takes unbundling to a new level with the introduction of a charge to carry on a bag and be boarded first onto the airplane. “In order to continue reducing fares even further and offering customers the option of paying only for the services they want and use rather than subsidizing the choices of others, the low fare industry innovator is also progressing to the next phase of unbundling with the introduction of a charge to carry on a bag and be boarded first onto the airplane,” said Biffle.
Members of Spirit’s $9 Fare Club who pre-reserve their carry-on bag in advance online receive a $10 discount compared to non-members and pay only $20 for their carry-on. In addition, checked bag fees for $9 Fare Club members have been reduced to $15 for domestic flights and $20 for international flights, both a $10 savings compared to non-members. The baggage discounts will be available for purchase by July 1, 2010, for travel August 1, 2010 and beyond.
“In addition to lowering fares even further, this will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve inflight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process, all of which ultimately improve the overall customer experience,” says Spirit’s CCOr Ken McKenzie. “Bring less; pay less. It’s simple.”
The new carry-on bag fee is effective for reservations purchased after April 5, for travel August 1, and beyond, and will be available for purchase on or before July 1. The fee applies to carry-ons to be placed in overhead bins and includes priority boarding in Zone 1. Personal items that fit under the seat are free.
Exceptions to the carry-on bag fee are: umbrella, assistive devices, outer garments (coats, hats, wraps), camera, car seat/stroller, infant diaper bag, medicine, pet container, reading material for the flight, or food for immediate consumption.