Spirit's Baggage Fee: More Ups Than Downs

A controversial carry-on baggage fee at U.S. carrier Spirit Airlines has not hurt the company's business, an independent study found.

Spirit was roundly criticized for charging up to $45 for carry-on luggage stowed in overhead compartments, a practice it announced in April 2010 and launched in August of that year.

The airline services Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Central and Latin America, and flies a daily route from Florida to Los Angeles International Airport.

In April, it announced it would charge $45 for carry-on luggage that needed to be stowed overhead, $30 if the fee was paid on line and $20 for fare club members.

From August 2010 to August 2011, however, with the fee in place, Spirit sold 24.4 percent more tickets than it did in the 12 months prior to the fee's launch, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

In addition, the airline's profit margin climbed to 10 percent to 12 percent in the first nine months after imposing the fee.

A study done by IdeaWorks, a consulting firm in Wisconsin, said the nay-sayers were wrong.

"More than a year later, passenger traffic and revenue results have proven the skeptics wrong," said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks.

The IdeaWorks study found that to the airline's advantage it had discouraged enough passengers from carrying baggage that had to be stowed on board to decrease boarding times. This has helped the planes run on time, the study said.

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