Spirit Introduces 'Unintended Consequences' Fee

Another day, another dollar squeezed from the pockets of Spirit passengers. Yep, you guessed it. Spirit's dropped yet another fee on its flyers.

A mere week after the Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced a series of passenger protection regulations, Spirit's rolled out a fresh fee in reaction to the rules. According to a press release issued by the airline, Spirit customers must now pay a $2 each-way DOTUC (Department of Transportation Unintended Consequences) fee to cover costs associated with the DOT's new regulations. The $2 fee went into effect on Tuesday, January 31.

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One of the DOT's recently enacted rules gives flyers the option to change or cancel a reservation within 24 hours of booking; it's this law in particular that's given Spirit cause to charge extra. The airline's reasoning? By reserving seats for customers who have yet to commit, Spirit will lose inventory and, consequently, money—or so it says. Hence it's passing the purported cost on to its passengers.

It's been a week since the DOT's new rules went into effect, so it's doubtful the airline has had the chance to make an accurate assessment of how much the rules have impacted its bottom line. It seems that Spirit is simply using rules created to protect flyers as an excuse to charge them more. Oh, the irony.

Spirit President and CEO Ben Baldanza offers no hard data. Instead, he serves up an artfully stretched metaphor: "People love the idea of not having to commit to a reservation, but this regulation, like most, imposes costs on consumers. Wouldn't we all like to eat all we want and not get fat? Regulators like to try to sell the idea of this rule, but have ignored the cost impact to consumers. You simply can't eat all you want without consequences."

But can you charge customers all you want without consequences? The airline that gets its bread and butter by force-feeding fee after fee to overtaxed passengers probably shouldn't speak about the virtues of restraint.

Readers, has Spirit gone too far yet again?

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