Here’s a trick question: If you fly from point “A” to point “B” on the same airline how many times do you have to pay a luggage fee?
If you said “once,” you’re correct. But if you said “as many times as the airline wants,” then you must know Betty Graff, who recently contacted me about a ticket she’d booked through Expedia on Spirit Airlines.
Graff was flying round trip between Atlantic City and Houston, with stops in Atlanta on her way to Houston and Fort Lauderdale on her return.
“I received the confirmation from Spirit with a link to pay for the carry-on and checked baggage,” she says. “The rate for paying for the baggage is less than paying for it when checking in.”
So far, so good. And then she clicked on the Spirit site.
“To my surprise, I found that I had to pay the baggage fees for three flights instead of two,” she says.
“I called Spirit for explanation. The flights returning from Houston to Atlantic City are considered ‘direct’ flights, not ‘connecting’ flights, therefore extra charges for baggage,” she says.
Graff explained that the tickets were purchased through Expedia as a package. And when she booked the vacation package, Expedia made no mention of the extra baggage fee. But Spirit would not be moved.
How about Expedia?
I called Expedia, and guess what? There was nothing they could do.
If it had been any other airline than Spirit, they could have given me an Expedia credit towards another flight, which I would have gladly accepted.
I was told to call Spirit and ask for a cancellation since it was within 24 hours. I asked if they would issue me a refund on my credit card or just a credit to fly their airline again. They answered it would it most likely be an airline credit since it was a non-refundable ticket.
I insisted that it was Expedia’s responsibility to resolve this issue because, after all, I bought the package from Expedia as presented. I clicked on the “Details”; and it clearly indicated it was a connecting flight from Houston to Ft. Lauderdale to Atlantic City, not separate direct flights, which now explains why I couldn’t make the same booking using Spirit’s website. Priceline and Orbitz also advertised the same package as Expedia.
My issue was it was sold under false pretenses. I believed I was buying one-stop flights as presented on Expedia’s website, therefore it was Expedia who was deceiving me, not Spirit. Expedia’s problem was that the contract between them and Spirit prevented them from issuing a refund or a credit.
Graff didn’t let Expedia off the hook. First of all, if you’re within 24 hours, you should be offered a full refund, not a flight credit. Second, Spirit has absolutely no business charging someone a luggage fee per segment.
To its credit, Expedia fixed it.
“I don’t know if Expedia even knew that Spirit is doing this. They do now,” she says. “I had the impression that this was news to them, because they kept apologizing and regretted they couldn’t do something about it. Maybe that’s why the representative from Spirit was so agreeable about making a refund after Expedia called them.”
The takeaway for the rest of us is clear: When a discount airline like Spirit offers a discount on its luggage fee for paying through its site, make sure you ask it to define “flight.”