One return booking, but double bag charges on Spirit. What’s with these low-cost airlines, anyway?

By | January 4th, 2017

Answer: You should have been charged for your bags only once. Obviously.

The military, otherwise not a model for purchasing rigor, is world-class in one respect: accountability. For contracts, there often is a lead contractor, or “belly button.” That contractor is the single “belly button” pushed hard if something goes wrong.

By using Expedia, you might have the illusion that you can just push the Expedia button and achieve a resolution. Sadly, we have found quite the opposite. Online agencies defer to the airlines, airlines defer to online agencies. Around and around we go. You are not their customer.

Spirit probably is no worse than most in this regard, though its bare-bones, à-la-carte pricing creates more opportunities for confusion and conflict.

You have been reasonable and detailed in your initial contacts with the airline. Spirit has responded that it feels your pain, but notes that its decision to deny your request “is not based on lack of compassion.”


Unfortunately your quest has only begun. Our company contact list should provide several contact names for each of the parties involved. We recommend that you appeal to one of the Spirit executives yourself, which you did.
As for Expedia, one of our advocates has made an initial contact and we’ll let you know the outcome. When you write, make the message brief, detailed and neutral. If there is no response within 10 to 14 days, move up the list.

An important housekeeping note on this story: You flew Nov. 5 and contacted us Nov. 19. At the time we wrote this (Dec. 1) there was still no resolution. That leave Spirit and Expedia with almost a month and a half to fix this problem before the story publishes. D’ya think that’s enough time?

Related story:   The seatback pocket is not the place for your passport

Perhaps Expedia can explain why Spirit claims that the one-stop return flight was ticketed as successive. According to an Expedia telephone agent, a round trip on Spirit would normally be written on one ticket, covering departure and return. So somehow, your departure flight was written as one ticket including the connection. The return, however, seems to have been written as two individual tickets.

Some savvy travelers combine one-way flights to save money. You say that was not the case here.

We fail to understand why airline sites quote identical flights for more, often hundreds more, than third-party competitors.

Would you book on Spirit or Expedia again if you could save $25…$50…$100…more? If the airlines are reading us right, we will continue to grab the lowest-cost, lowest-frills flight and tolerate cabin seating designed by poultry farmers.

If the executive contacts do not support a refund, don’t give up. File a dispute with the credit card used for the flight. The two baggage fees should appear on the same date. This should support a claim of double billing.

  • Alan Gore

    Clearly this is a fail by the booking entity, which for a round trip on a low-cost carrier should have been the customer. But it was an online fake agency, so no telling how they set this one up.

  • Chris Johnson

    That’s Spirit Airlines for you, one horror story after another. “Low-cost” may be an illusion when you pay more money in the long run. That said, I bet this wouldn’t have occurred had he just booked directly on the website and not with Expedia.

  • Rebecca

    I am by no means a fan of Spirit. However, the one thing I will say is that they stick hard and fast to rules; I honestly don’t think they would charge a fee twice in error and refuse to refund it. Whether its reasonable in the first place is really neither here nor there. They followed their own, very clearly stated rules to a T. I believe Spirit when they say Expedia issued 2 separate tickets for the return flight. Which makes this Expedia’s fault. And Expedia that owes the OP a refund.

  • Michael__K

    Could this be an example of the deceptive OTA ticketing practices, according to whistleblowers, recently highlighted here?

    Once a booking is made online there’s a separate group within the customer service department that controls and assesses the margins for that booking. If the team finds a similar ticket that offers a better profit margin to the company, the agent, unbeknownst to the customer, will cancel that ticket and rebook the customer on this new higher-margin ticket.

  • Bill___A

    I’m not sure if it is the fault of the airline or the travel agency but the airline should have realized it was an anomaly and refunded one of the two baggage fees. Sometimes computers do unintended things and when a human eye takes a look, they should realize that and correct it.

  • Kairho

    Expedia is certainly not a “fake agency.”

  • The Original Joe S

    through Expedia – well, there’s your problem right there. You get what you pay for.

  • The Original Joe S

    It is a fake agency. They provide nothing.

  • The Original Joe S

    Basic assumption: Many airlines are slimeballs. Can’tinenetal tried to charge me baggage fees for an international trip booked thru their Asian partner. Like I’m STUPID? Like I haven’t flown that route 20 times before? Like I believe they don’t have a supervisor?

  • S363

    Don’t fly Spirit. Just don’t. Ever. It only encourages these sorts of practices.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    This sort of game is why I chose Jetblue over Spirit for a flight my daughter was taking. The extra $10 or so was well worth avoiding any Spirit idiocy (and if Southwest had had a flight leaving early enough, I would have paid a little more for them over Jetblue).

  • cscasi

    If it provides “nothing” how does the money customers pay it for reservations for hotels, vehicles and flights get from it to the appropriate hotel, car rental company or airline? Hmm.
    I agree it is not more than a online go between, but it does collect and pay.

  • cscasi

    Not sure about your case but I do know that when people book through one airline but are flying on a partner’s metal, the partner can and does sometime charge baggage fees, even if the one booked through does not. It is usually stated up front during the booking process. That is especially true flying coach. But normally all airlines give free baggage allowance for Business and First Class customers.

  • The Original Joe S

    Right you aren’t sure.
    Read it again. I flew that same itinerary 20 times. Business. NEVER charged for luggage. Smart-aleck bimbettes tried to extort. NO SUPERVISOR? They say that when they want to avoid responsibility.
    I opened my computer, took their names, and banged out a small claims court action and subpoenae to both of them. Called the REAL airline and ascertained that there was a seat for me two days hence. [ They purport to be partners, but wouldn’t allow the Asian airline into their computer. Same thing when they subsequently re-scheduled my connection, refused to put me on an earlier flight to ensure I would make the overseas leg w/o paying $100 for THEIR SCREW UP, and not allowing the Asian airline in to fix it. ] Told them that if I didn’t get on the airplane without paying $60, I was going home, get in the car, go to the courthouse and file the suit. They , their “Unknown Supervisor[s]”, and lots of other guilty dirtbags. They gave in.
    Had lots of other problems with Can’t. Finally took the train and then the bus to go to JFK rather than deal with scumbags. Too bad they are still in business as Untied. Won’t fly with them if I can possibly avoid it.

  • Michael__K

    We’ve seen a few cases where Spirit refused to follow their own rules — for example, failing to re-accommodate or offer refunds to customers whose flights were canceled.

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