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Are carry-on bag fees hurting Spirit Airlines?

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Is Spirit Airlines feeling a backlash from travelers since the ultra low-cost Florida airline announced in April that it would begin charging a fee for some carry-on bags?

It depends on who you ask.

TripAdvisor, the travel guide and research website, analyzed flight purchases through its site between March and May and found that Spirit’s share of all flights selected dropped by 31%.

TripAdvisor officials say the drop may be a result of the new $45 fee Spirit charges for carry-on bags that don’t fit under the seats. The fees kick in Aug. 1.

But Spirit Airlines says business is thriving. In fact, Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said the airline has seen a “double-digit” increase in sales for flights after Aug. 1.

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Besides, she said, Spirit sells 80% of its tickets directly from its website, www.spiritair.com, and only a small share from third-party online vendors.

The launch of the carry-on fees and other cost-saving efforts by Spirit have put the airline on the defense for months. Now the airline is taking fire for offering to sell advertisements on just about every vacant space on its planes.

A menu of advertising options, available from the airline’s website, suggest advertisers can buy space on the airline’s overhead bins (about $250,000), table trays ($300,000), lavatory door panels ($55,000) and even air sickness bags ($20,000).

-- Hugo Martin


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