The Volatile Spirit Passenger Usage Fee Game

As you all might have heard, you can save a significant portion of the ticket price on a Spirit flight if you book in person and not online or on the phone.

On Sunday I asked my brother who was flying in to ORD to buy a ticket to fly from ORD to IAH on 06 Feb 2018 at the Spirit counter. The counter is open only from the hours of 3:30 am to 9:30 pm. His flight got in late due to fog so he could not get the ticket. On that day it would of only cost $23 for this one way flight. The website breaks it down like this:

Note the $9.99 usage fee would be waived when booking in person. The ticket would of cost $23.30 at the counter. I checked online today to see that the ticket price has gone up to $46.30! I was a bit disappointed until I broke down the new cost:

The bulk of the fee increase is the Passenger Usage Charge, note the ticket is now just 1 cent! If we compare the two tickets we see that there is a new fuel charge and compliance charge. I broke it down here:

20-Jan 23-Jan
Flight $8.37 $0.01
Regulatory Compliance $6.51
Fuel Charge $5.58
Passenger Usage $9.99 $18.99
Security Fee $5.60 $5.60
Passenger Facility $4.50 $4.50
Segment $4.20 $4.20
Federal Excise Tax $0.63 $0.91
Total $33.29 $46.30
Total Counter Price $23.30 $27.31

Online the ticket went from $33.29 to $46.30 ($13.01 increase (39%)). However if I compare the price at the airport it had just gone from $23.30 to $27.31 ($4.01 increase (17.2%)). These swings in prices are worse than bitcoin! More explanation is foind in the terms and conditions on the spirit site:

What a bizarre game these people play! If they are charging a fare of $8.37 then the fuel charges and compliance fee hits. When they are charging a cent then these fees appear and the usage charge doubles! I will be back on Sunday to pick up our most senior Derp Reporter. I will report on what happens to the prices then!


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