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

By | January 4th, 2017

Kathleen Hull flies once on Spirit but is charged twice for her baggage. What’s going on here? And can her online travel agency help her sort it out?

Question: I recently booked a round-trip flight from Philadelphia to Orlando, Fla., on Spirit Airlines through Expedia. Both flights were one-stop flights, with one difference: I was charged twice for the same number of checked bags on the return flight.

Neither Expedia nor Spirit seems to view this as an issue. Spirit insists that the return was ticketed as two separate segments. Can you help? — Kathleen Hull, Orlando, Fla.

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.”

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Charming.


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?

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.

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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.



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