Spirit’s Carry-on Baggage Fees to Go into Effect, But Why Should Anyone Care?

Scott Mayerowitz has an ABC Travel piece tied to Spirit’s new charges for oversized carry-on bags going into effect.

I’m quoted in the piece saying, “This is the airline that’s famous for hating their customers,”

And of course I believe that — Ben Baldanza spurred the creation of the ‘cockroach’ movement (elite passengers so identifying themselves) after comments that passengers who always bought the cheap US Airways fares the company were offering were not necessarily loyal. And of course US Airways as a carrier was itself the cockroach that would not die, in part because of the loyalty of such unvalued customers.

Then as head of Spirit, Baldanza was famous for his ‘oops’ reply-all to staff that a complaining customer wasn’t worth an apology, treat them badly but they’ll be back for more cheap fares.

The carry-on fees are hardly even Spirit’s dumbest ones yet.

Plus Baldanza isn’t entirely wrong, either. He’s more customer friendly in the sense that he and his airline are more transparent in what they intend to offer than most. And he’s clearly differentiating his product.

Whenever Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary falls out of the news, he makes some blustery claims about charging to use the lavatories onboard. He’s not doing that really, just getting media attention, and focusing consumers on the lengths they’ll go to ‘be the cheapest’. It’s no surprise Baldanza has claimed that Spirit bookings have gone up since announcing the planned carry-on fees. (Of course it could also just be the peak summer travel season..)

The point that got lost in my quote above for the ABC piece is that while Spirit may not be the most customer friendly, they’re quite well known for the product they deliver, if a customer is unhappy they should just make a choice. I blame no one but the consumer for stories like this.

Spirit offers what it offers. Consumers that are happy with the tradeoff should fly them. Cosnumer who won’t be happy with their offering should book elsewhere. I know I do.

There’s certainly no reason to yell and scream at congressioanl hearings over the matter, outside of perhaps Ft. Laduerdale they’re hardly even a major player, and Ft. Lauderdale isn’t even the major airport in the area. There’s plenty of consumer choice, consumers should just… choose.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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