Another look at carry-on baggage fees

The politicians moved in pretty quickly when word spread that Spirit Airlines intended to charge for carry-on luggage, threatening legislation that would ban the practice. But they might have missed the other part of the equation. The airline intended to lower the cost of a ticket.

The people have spoken. “The Street” reports that bookings on Spirit after August 1 (when the policy goes into effect) are up 50%.

“Our customers get it,” (Ben) Baldanza said. “The media says they don’t like it, but if you are me, you see that the number of people who buy tickets is expanding. I think the outrage is from people who already pay high fares on other carriers. But our customers see the power of a really low fare with the option to choose what else they want.”

There’s a fair whiff of PR-writing in that comment, but it leads to a good question: Why shouldn’t people get to decide what they’ll pay for? Spirit’s plan is (was?) to charge less for the ticket itself, because it charges for everything else. If a passenger doesn’t want “everything else,” why pay for it?

The article had a fascinating statistic. Spirit claims that eliminating most carry-on would save 5 minutes that each plane spends at the gate, allowing the airline to fly — and make money — for 15 more hours a day.

(h/t: Susan Leem)