Spirit Airlines is a popular airline known for its budget-friendly fares. And with operating bases all across the United States, Spirit is a convenient airline for many travelers—offering flights not just throughout the United States, but the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America as well.
One of the most common questions travelers have about Spirit Airlines is what their policies and fees are regarding checked bags and carry-on luggage. After all, nobody wants to pay more than they need to for their luggage.
With Spirit Airlines, the main thing to be aware of is that baggage is not included in your airfare when you book—and this airline follows a pricing structure where baggage fees actually increase the closer to the departure date you book similar to United Airlines baggage fees. Spirit is also known for having strict rules and regulations when it comes to checked bags; whereas the “standard” maximum checked bag weight across most airlines is around 50 pounds, Spirit’s maximum weight is just 40. This is something to keep in mind as you book and budget for your upcoming trip.
Spirit Airlines Checked and Carry-On Allowances
Spirit Airlines has different charges and rules for checked and carry-on bags. By being aware of these ahead of time and planning accordingly, you can avoid paying more than you need to.
Checked Bag Allowances and Fees
For bags that you will check for the duration of your flight, the maximum weight is 40 pounds and total dimensions of your bag should not exceed 62 linear inches. Unlike some airlines, Spirit doesn’t offer a flat rate for checked bags, so this is where things can sometimes get a little confusing.
If you pay for your baggage at the time you book your airfare online, you’ll typically pay $23-$32 for your first checked bag (depending on weight), $33-$42 for your second checked bag, and $78-$87 for your third to fifth checked bags. These prices increase if you wait to pay for your checked bags until you check in. For example, the rate for your first bag can increase to anywhere from $33-$42. Wait until you get t the airport or gate to check your baggage and you could be paying anywhere from $52 to $65 for just one checked bag!
Depending on where you’re flying, keep in mind that there may also be restrictions on the number of bags you can check for your flight. For the most accurate pricing, it’s best to check your rates directly with the Spirit Airlines website based on your specific flight number.
Carry-On Allowances and Fees
When it comes to carry-on baggage, Spirit allows one free personal item free when you book with their Bare Fare option. Otherwise, you’ll pay anywhere from $28 to $37 for your carry-on at the time you book, or $36-$45 if you wait until check-in. Again, you’ll pay a premium of anywhere from $55 to $65 for your carry-on if you wait until you get to the airport reservation desk or gate to pay.
What About Infants and Strollers?
If you’re traveling with an infant, you may bring along a breast pump and accessories and/or formula that will not count against your carry-on allowance. The same applies to strollers or double strollers, although these must be checked prior to your flight.
Charges For Additional Bags and Overweight Luggage
Spirit Airlines, like all airlines, has strict requirements when it comes to how heavy and/or large your checked and carry-on bags may be. This is for the safety of everybody aboard the plane, as airlines must conform to specific air travel regulations. To discourage travelers bringing large or heavy bags with them during their flights, Spirit Airlines does charge overweight/oversized baggage fees.
Specific fees can vary depending on how overweight or oversized your baggage is. Spirit’s maximum allowed weight is 40 lbs for a checked bag, and you’ll pay an overweight fee of $30 for bags weighing between 41 and 50 pounds. For bags of 51 to 70 pounds, you’ll pay closer to $55 in overweight fees, with charges maxing out at $100 for bags that weigh between 71 and 100 pounds.
For oversized bags (this applies to any baggage measuring a total of more than 62 linear inches), you’ll pay anywhere from $100 to $150 in fees—with some exceptions in place for special items such as musical instruments and sporting equipment.
Saving On Spirit Baggage Fees (Or Avoiding Them Altogether)
Looking for the best ways to cut down on your baggage fees when flying with Spirit Airlines? We have some recommendations.
Pre-Pay For Your Luggage
The best (and easiest) way to save on baggage fees with Spirit is to pre-pay, as pricing increasing the longer you wait before your departure. Ideally, then, you’ll know how many bags you need to check and how many bags you’ll be carrying on at the time you book your flight. From there, you can pay for your baggage at the same time your purchase your airfare and enjoy the lowest possible rates.
Get Reimbursed By Your Credit Card
Check with your credit card company to see if they offer luggage fee reimbursement for airline travelers. This is becoming an increasingly common feature offered by major credit card companies—especially if you have a travel rewards card. In most cases, you’ll still need to pay your baggage fees with the airline up-front (using your credit card), but you can then fill out an application with your credit card company to have the charges reimbursed or credited to your account. Check with your credit card company for specific rules and regulations if they offer this benefit to cardholders.
Explore Exclusions and Waivers
Spirit Airlines, like many airlines, will waive baggage fees for active members of the military. If this applies to you, you may receive up to two free checked bags in addition to a free carry-on and personal item.
Spirit Airlines Baggage Policies: Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about handling baggage rules and fees while traveling with Spirit Airlines.
Are backpacks allowed as carry-ons with Spirit Airlines?
Since Spirit Airlines allows for one free personal item with your airfare, you can count a backpack as a personal item as long as it falls within the required size dimensions and follows the TSA 3-1-1 rules. For a personal item, these measurements are not to exceed 18″ x 14″ by 8″. For a backpack larger than these dimensions, you can still bring it as a personal carry-on item for an added fee so long as the size of the backpack is not larger than 22″ x 18″ x 10″.
What are Spirit’s basic charges for checked bags and carry-ons?
If you’ll be checking a bag that falls within the airline’s standard size dimensions, you’ll generally pay anywhere from $23-$32 for your first checked bag, assuming that you pay for the bag at the time you book your flight online. You’ll always pay more for checked and carry-on bags if you wait until after you book to pay.
For carry-on bags, you are allowed one free personal item at no charge. If you want to bring an additional carry-on, however, you’ll pay between $28 and $37 if you pay at the time of booking, and up to $65 if you wait until you arrive at the gate. It’s easy to see why paying for your bags at the time you book your flight is the best way to save money.
What if I have an overweight or oversized bag?
You’ll pay quite a bit for overweight or oversized bags when you fly Spirit Airlines, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time and make sure your bag conforms to luggage requirements set forth by the airline. You can do this by manually taking measurements of your luggage dimensions and using a luggage scale to weigh your bag after you’ve finished packing it.
Overweight and oversized bag fees can vary greatly, ranging from $30 for a slightly overweight bag to up to $150 for a much larger/heavier item.
Is there any way to have baggage fees waived completely?
In general, Spirit Airlines will only waive baggage fees for active duty members of the United States Military. If this applies to you, be sure to inform the airline ahead of time; you should be entitled to a free carry-on bag (outside the personal item already allowed) and two free checked bags. Please be prepared to show proof of your current active duty at the time of your booking and/or at the gate to receive this benefit.