Friday, November 6, 2015

This is how Spirit Airlines gets in the
holiday spirit.
Traveling during the holiday season can be a nightmare,
what with crowded airports, overbooked flights, inflated flight prices, and
the constant risk that bad weather could cancel or delay your trip.
Now we can add the holiday season surcharge to this list.
Last year, Spirit
Airlines took the very Grinchy step of adding an extra feeto its baggage fee
for checked luggage on flights departing during the holidays.
This year, the
checked baggage surcharge is back, and worst of all for travelers, Spirit now
has company in the utilization of this strategy.
So it appears we have an ugly
little trend on our hands.
As the flight-comparison site FareCompare noted, Frontier Airlines—the
Denver-based carrier that's been following the fee-heavy tactics laid out by
Spirit—recently hiked checked and carryon baggage fees by an extra $5 to $10
for flights scheduled anytime between Thanksgiving week and just after new
year's, as well as peak travel periods in 2016.
According to Frontier's website, "temporary price increases" are in
effect for departures from November 19, 2015, through January 5, 2016, as well
as February 11 to April 4 and June 9 to August 16 next year.
In other words,
through mid-August, there only a few weeks (mostly in January, April, and May)
when the higher fees are not in effect.
And here's the lowdown on the extra
fees: Carry On bag prices increase by $5 at booking and up to 24 hours
before departure, $10 at Web Check-in, and $5 at the Airport kiosk or ticket
counter; 1st Checked Bag increases by $5 at Flyfrontier.com, at booking and up
to 24 hours before departure and increases by $10 at call center, web
check-in, and airport ticket counter or self-service kiosk.
2nd Checked Bag
prices increase by $10.
Compared with Frontier, Spirit seems less cruel, seeing as it's only
hiking fees for checked baggage (not carryons, which will be subject to normal
fees), and only during the comparatively smaller travel window of December 16
to January 4.
Normally, Spirit charges $30 for checking a bag when booking a
flight, $35 before online check-in, $40 during online check-in, and $50 at
airport check-in.
(Yes, annoyingly, there's a different fee for each
possibility.) But for flights around Christmas and New Year's all of the
above options cost $2 extra.
Spirit attempted to argue a year ago that the baggage surcharge wasn't
really about the money.
"To make sure we have room for everyone's bags,
we're encouraging customers to pack a bit lighter," the airline said when
introducing the new fee—which was supposed to be a disincentive to check
baggage, rather than an opportunistic cash grab.
Right.
This time around,
neither Spirit nor Frontier is bothering to make such claims.
Spirit simply
told FareCompare that Christmas and New Year's "is a very high demand
period" for the airline.
And when demand is high, prices (and fees) tend to
be high too.
Curiously, while Frontier Airlines is milking peak-season passengers with
higher baggage fees, it is also trying to appear generous to these same
holiday season travelers via a special frequent-flier bonus promotion.
The
Denver Post reported that Frontier is attempting to win over travelers by
offering double frequent flier miles for all new bookings made now through
December 31.
"The double miles are way for us to thank customers for their
loyalty and to entice new customers to try us," an airline representative
said.
For any of these new customers to become loyal ones, they'll have to be
comfortable doing business with an airline that piles on the fees whenever it
can.
This story originally appeared on Money More good reads from Money:
• There's an Old-Fashioned Airfare Price War on for Flights to Hawaii!
• Here's How Airline Travelers Can Hold Flight Prices for a Full Week
• Airbus Files Patent to Seat People on Top of Each Other

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