Spirit Increases Their Passenger Usage Fee, Here’s How To Avoid It! Fly Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, NYC, Or Pittsburgh To/From Los Angeles For $60 Round-Trip!

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I’m no fan of ultra low cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit. I don’t like their nickel and diming to reserve a seat or get a drink of water. I don’t like their lack of legroom, their lack of seat recline, their lack of a carry-on allowance, or their lack of useful miles. I don’t like that they don’t participate in Priceline’s “next day at 11:29pm” refund policy. I don’t like their 40 pound checked bag allowance even after you pay for a bag. I don’t like their lack of onboard WiFi. I don’t like that they don’t have partner airlines to accommodate you when things go wrong. I don’t like that they don’t have credit cards that waive bag fees. And I don’t like buses that are used in place of flights.

But I get that it works for some people, especially those that travel light and don’t care where they sit. In fact as long as there are no flight delays or cancellations, it probably works fine for most people.

I’ve written about the “hack” before, but I noticed that Spirit has actually increased their passenger usage fee to $19.99 each way or $39.98 round-trip. That’s up from $35.98 when I last wrote about this fee.

Spirit splits this fee off of the price of the flight to avoid paying the 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare. It’s a fee for using Spirit.com or your phone to book your tickets. In order for Spirit to avoid paying the excise tax on it though they need to make it possible to avoid the fee.

You can do that by buying your Spirit tickets in the airport.

If you go to the airport and stop by the Spirit counter you’ll now save $39.98 per round-trip ticket.

For example you can buy a round-trip ticket nonstop between Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, or Pittsburgh and Los Angeles for $100.58 online (Sample valid dates February 20, 21, 27. 28, March 6, 7). Go to any airport with a Spirit checking counter and they will sell you this flight for $60.60:


Or you can buy a round-trip ticket from LaGuardia or Newark to Los Angeles for $117.98 online (Sample valid dates February 20, 21, 27. 28, March 6, 7). Go to any airport with a Spirit checking counter and they will sell you this flight for $78:


Spirit is still sneaky though. If you do plan on bringing baggage, you won’t be able to save the same amount as you can by buying it during the booking process. On the plus side though, you can wait until online checkin to see exactly how many bags you’ll actually need for the flight. But you can always beat them by bringing a free carry-on bag like this one. You can probably even ship your luggage for less than that they charge for baggage!

Have you bought Spirit tickets at the airport? Share your experience in the comments!

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67 Comments On "Spirit Increases Their Passenger Usage Fee, Here’s How To Avoid It! Fly Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, NYC, Or Pittsburgh To/From Los Angeles For $60 Round-Trip!"

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Red Goldfish

Spirit charged me a baggage fee when I used that American Tourister boarding bag you linked to.


We just bought spirit tickets at the airport for the whole fam. Newark to Orlando $68 round trip. Pretty new plane, squashed crocs n flops into one suitcase and hey , it worked well for mid winter vacay.


That’s how I bought my pesach tickets to Florida.. at the airport… saved $150 for the family


Used Spirit many times, very often “penny flights” booked at the airport for under $20 each. I never had any real issues; you just need to go in knowing about the nickel and diming. If you cheshbon all the extra fees in beforehand, you’ll void being annoyed.
Also, being that they pride themselves on being “cheap”, their seats are actually more spacious than other airlines that just squeeze more rows into cattle class. They actually designed a seat that although it doesn’t lean back, it is shaped with people’s knees (and needs) in mind.

Thanks Dan for everything!


You explain this info so thoroughly and beautifully.
I fly Spirit occasionally and this information is spot on.


Can you use online promo codes when booking at the airport? Spirit always has promo codes on their site and in emails so wondering if it is possible to apply them in person. Thanks



not even $9 fare club


I once tried to buy tickets at a Spirit counter at EWR to save the Usage Fee for a family trip. I was going to be at that terminal anyway for a flight, and the Spirit fare was something like $100 cheaper for each one way ticket. I even went so far as to check Spirit’s flight schedule to make sure the counter wouldn’t be busy at the time of my visit. When I got to the airport, however, it was pure pandemonium at the Spirit counter. It turned out that they had cancelled a flight, and 150 people needed to be reaccommodated. That process was taking forever. I bailed on buying the ticket. A week later, I was able to buy tickets on another airline at almost the Spirit price, and was actually glad that Spirit’s incompetence had prevented me from flying them. Lesson from my story: it might not be as easy to buy your tickets at the Spirit ticket counter as you think it will be.


I booked 7 tickets for my family from LGA to FLL for Pesach on Spirit. After adding 4 suitcases each way and a carry-on my totla was $310 rt per person. JetBlue for example was over $500 pp and at worse times like 9am or 10om. I prefer JetBlue and try to avoid Spirit, but at these times when airlines try to gouge customers I rather save the $1,400 and deal with spirit.

If I fly on my own however or want to build points then yes I too would avoid Spirit even at a $200 savings.

Also thanks for the part about saving at the airport. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.


Just wondering does this hack for bumped vouchers? They give round trip tickets but with all the fees comes out very high.

Chuchum Ainer

Same q. Anyone have a DP on that? I have a $70 credit


I often buy spirit tickets at the airport and I sometimes save more then $40. Last year I booked tickets from nwk to Fll for $28 roundtrip. This trick works with other low cost carriers also like Frontier.


We fly Spirit and as was explained to us by another traveler, ‘you have to understand their business model’ and if you are okay with it, you can get some amazing deals. We do buy tickets at the airport. We’ve gone round trip LA to Cleveland for $32!!! Sure beats the $350 we used to pay. And the Spirit red-eye, non-stop, sometimes gets us into Cleveland in 3.5 hours!! As long as the planes are safe and the pilots know what they are doing, I’m okay with that!


Does anyone know if you book ticket at airport is it sent by email or only hard copy? The question I have is whether I could book for family members who don’t live near me without having to mail tickets. Thanks. I guess I also should check can I book tickets for other people only who aren’t there.


i buy tickets at the airport all the time for my boys to come home on the chagim. I give the agent their names and dates of birth. I pay for the ticket and I am given a paper receipt with the confirmation number. I text my boys their confirmation numbers and that’s all there is to it. Many times (depending on how busy it is) the Spirit agent will also hook up the ticket I’m purchasing to their spirit accounts by confirming their email and/or telephone number. If not I just log into their account and add the confirmation number so that it shows up. My boys informed me that they never even use the confirmation number -when they get to the airport to check in they go to the computer and pull up their reservations by just entering their name.


Yes you can for anyone using their name and birthday. They will email you the itinerary and booking number and then you cam forward it. You just need your id and to pay with your own credit card.


if 1 bag needs to check in, how much is it when buying the flight ticket at the counter at the same time? TIA


if buying tickets at the counter in advance before the fly date/time, is there an option to buy a checked bag online for $35? if paying for a bag at the counter, think the fee is $50, right?


This is one way to avoid baggage fees https://youtu.be/3MhxDOJ2ZQ4


That was hilarious. Thanks.

Save Some $

seems from the website that the $8 fuel surcharge is also only if booked online (https://www.spirit.com/OptionalServices#Fare-Price). Anyone know if this is true?

Also, shout out to Southwest- great fares and free carry-on and 2 checked bags. Just doesn’t show up on search engines, only their own website.


Flew with Spirit in December from EWR to FLL for about $80/rt per ticket for my wife, lap infant, and I. Luckily they were only delayed about 20 minutes on the outbound (and made up the time during in-flight), but one must really hold their breath that they aren’t disastrously delayed for several hours. Cut-throat they most certainly are, luggage at 41 pounds will not simply be passed to the conveyor belt without an extra charge (I opted to throw one pair of underwear away to bring it down to 40lbs). Without the family or any luggage, I’d be fine only taking their earliest flights at 6:00AM, to prevent horrific delays and aggravation (years ago during my college days, I left enough extra clothing at home in FL in order that when I flew Spirit from LGA, I carried nothing but my tefillin)


Just flew my first Spirit flights. They were fine. Some points:

1. The Spirit limit on personal items is 8inches thick at all points including wheels. Some bags this size have hard bottoms/wheels that are 9″ at that point. Won’t go in the sizer. Samsonite has new bags that work fine.

2. I bought Big Front Seats both ways. $35 for an old United domestic 1st class seat is fine by me ! They also offer bulkhead and exit seats pretty cheap. I’d rather fly in a 1st class seat on Spirit than like a sardine on American.

3. Bring your own lunch including drink.

4. At least at BWI and FLL the staff is very friendly and didn’t see one bag challenge either way.


My family and I have flown Spirit many times without any issues other than a minor delay once. The last two trips to Florida for yeshiva week, I have bought round trip tickets at the airport for $85 or less (EWR-FLL) for our family of 6. As long as you understand the pricing model, you can find great deals.


can you buy spirit tickets at any airport to save this money or only a airport that is on your itinerary


when you are buying the ticket the issue i see is that you would have to pay for parking for while you are at the airport.For newark it looks like you should add a minimum of 12 dollars


Go with another person and they can wait in the car


So, I live 100 miles from the nearest airport that has a Spirit counter. Cheaper for me to buy online once you figure time and gas, etc.

BUT, my question is… Can I ask anyone else that is gonna be in the airport to by my ticket for me? Do they have to be family or what?


Just flew spirit, pretty lousy if you ask me….the outbound flight had a 2 hour delay for no great reason besides that they were running late from the night before. The incoming flight was a disaster, when due to unforeseen circumstances i was running late. I came huffing and puffing to the gate 10 minutes before departure, only too be told that Ill have to wait for the next flight, because they closed the gate already!!! boy was I angry!! The supervisor didnt care at all, she said (in her broken english…) that this happens every day….


this only works if you live, or have someone that lives close to the airport, correct?


Im flying monday from PHL to LAX im having already butterflies in my stomach going with spirit but it was cheaper then any airline.


does the spirit ticket counter have specific hours?


Dan. I am planning a last minute flight from acy to fll. All the regular online sites have nothing for my date next Sunday. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve like an airline that doesn’t advertise on those sites?


Can you use 9 fare club at airport counter? And then still not pay the passenger usage fees?
Tickets that are 50 online are 25 with 9 fare club, less the passenger usage it would be 6 each way.


Why people travel Spirit is beyond me. I used to go Spirit and at the end of the day they are more expensive or at best the same prices as other airlines especially if you have luggage or anything bigger then a small shopping bag. They seats are equivalent to bus seats they are rude, usually never leave on time, petty, crowded, deceitful plus other items you mentioned.
Folks stay away. You only live once and you can do better


I went to the airport spirit counter to book tickets to FLL. They would not give me the return flight I wanted claiming that there was no availability although online it still showed seats available. I chose a different, less convenient return flight and indeed saved the $40/ticket. The agent told me that if online it is still showing the other flight as available i would be able to change the tickets within 24 hrs. I changed them online… but the $40 usage fee was now tacked on to each ticket.


Thanks to the comment above about purchasing tickets at the airport, save $200 on 5 tickets, thank you


Purchased a ticket today. They didn’t remove the full passenger usage fee. On the spirit.com site the passenger usage fee for my 3 tickets way 119.91 (39.97 each). However, when I did the math between my total ticket price on spirit.com and what i was charged at the airport the savings was only $83.91 for all 3 tickets. I called spirit.com, they played dumb saying they didn’t know what I was talking about, that it is always cheaper to buy on spirit.com and kept asking if i wanted to cancel the ticket. I flew spirit a few months ago and didn’t have this problem. Additionally, the tickets look very odd, the the air fare and taxes total to the correct amount however the amount charged is different.

Has any one else explained this?

Any suggestions on recourse with the airline since calling spirit.com didn’t help?


I had the same experience. Should save $29.9/ticket, but only saved $12/ticket. Looks like they are charging different fees at the airport counter.


I had the same experience. Just bought tickets at the airport. It should save me $29.98 passenger usage charge, but only saved about $12. That’s weird.


Just bought 7 tickets in the airport saving 280


I just tried this and went all the way to Piedmont triad airport in Greensboro North Carolina and hour and 17 minutes each way from my house in the rain only to save a total of $8 for 5 people they now charge a $22 Passenger usage facilities fee Add claim they always have so no savings at all I called customer service and they said they sometimes charge it and sometimes don’t I basically felt like I was getting the run around customer service were incompetent and counter agents would not look me in the eye and it all felt very sketchy I don’t know if there’s a way I’m supposed to ask for the ticket to get them not to charge that but it did not work for me at all very disappointed


Wow, if I whined and complained and freaked out over booking a flight like 90% of you guys are doing, I would need to go to therapy and/or be heavily medicated! People are so afraid to go outside their comfort zone, God forbid doing something differently to save a few bucks might actually work! That’s why there are overpriced and inefficient airlines like AA, Delta & United for conformists to blindly pay whatever they charge and think they’re getting a good deal. The author is merely offering a different solution to saving money on tickets and you have the choice to fly Spirit or any other carrier. It’s not his fault you can’t understand the process of the transaction taking place at the ticket counter, gas prices, parking, food, weather etc etc. ( This is the part where that little light bulb should be popping up over your heads)


Spirit charges the Regulatory Compliance Charge and the Fuel Charge on tickets booked at the airport (even if you don’t see these charges when looking at a specific flight on Spirit.com). You can read the details in their General Terms and Conditions: https://www.spirit.com/content/documents/en-us/General_Terms_and_Conditions.pdf and can see the breakdown of your ticket price by component if you view the receipt at Spirit.com. On the least expensive tickets, these two charges can have the effect of erasing most of the savings from not paying the Passenger Usage Charge (since the RCC and FC are waived when purchasing less expensive tickets at Spirit.com). So you will still save money by buying tickets at the airport but not as much as you may expect if you just subtract the amount of the Passenger Usage Charge from the total price displayed on Spirit.com. If you do see the RCC and FC displayed for a given flight on Spirit.com, you can just subtract the amount of the PUC from the total and that will be the price at the airport. This is a crafty way to make money on Spirit’s part.

With other airlines, like Frontier, buying at the airport works better because they do not add any additional charges when buying at the airport. That can result in some really cheap tickets!