Spirit Airlines Baggage Fees: How to Avoid Bag Fees [2021]

Baggage fees on Spirit Airlines can drive up the cost of what might otherwise be a cheap flight. Here’s how to avoid or reduce the extra expense.
Last updated May 13, 2021 | By Lindsay Frankel
Woman putting her bag in the overhead compartment on an airplane

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If you regularly hunt for cheap flights to your favorite destinations, you already know that Spirit has some of the best ticket prices in the industry. Historically, Spirit Airlines has offered round-trip flights for as low as $12. But bag fees will cost you more than twice that amount, and Spirit’s Bare Fare tickets don’t include any bags, even carry-ons.

Baggage fees are a relatively new concept that airlines began collecting a little over a decade ago. Since then, the cost has only increased for most airlines. And it’s not likely to change anytime soon — airlines collectively brought in more than $4.8 trillion from bag fees alone last year, so it’s an important source of revenue for the industry. Luckily, there are some ways to get discounted baggage fees on Spirit — or avoid the cost altogether with the right tactics and credit cards.

In this article

What is Spirit Airlines' baggage policy?

Spirit Airlines policy for carry-ons

In addition to your free personal item, which could include a small backpack, laptop bag, or purse; you can bring a carry-on bag, so long as it doesn’t exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches, including handles and wheels. The fee you pay for carry-on baggage will depend on when you pay it (paying for baggage during booking will save you the most), but you can expect to pay between $37 and $65, unless you’re a member of the $9 Fare Club. You can use the Spirit Bag-O-Tron to calculate the exact price for your flight.

If you’re traveling with young children, you can check one carseat and one stroller per child for free. You can also bring a carseat on board, but only if you’ve purchased a seat for your child.

Generally, Spirit follows TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) guidelines with regards to prohibited items, which means you won’t be able to carry on liquids greater than 3.4 ounces or any cutting instruments, among other restrictions.

Spirit Airlines policy for checked bags

Spirit guarantees that each guest will be able to check one bag, but if space permits, you may be able to bring up to five bags. The cost per bag will depend on whether you purchase your baggage during booking, before or during check-in, or at the airport. Prices also vary slightly, depending on where you’re traveling. You can expect to pay between $32 and $65 for your first checked bag; prices go up for subsequent bags.

Your checked bag can weigh no more than 40 pounds and can’t exceed 62 linear inches total (length + width + height). Oversized and overweight bags will incur an extra charge of $30 or more, and Spirit won’t allow any bags that are heavier than 100 pounds or greater than 80 linear inches total.

For some international flights, there are other restrictions as well. Spirit also charges fees for checking items like musical instruments and sporting equipment, so if you need to check those items, be sure to budget accordingly.

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How to reduce or avoid bag fees on Spirit Airlines

Don’t panic if you can’t fit everything you need for your trip in one bag. There are some ways to reduce or eliminate the cost of baggage on Spirit Airlines, and if you plan ahead, you’ll be able to keep the total cost of your trip at a minimum.

1. Only pack a personal item

You can take one personal item that fits underneath the seat in front of you for free. I’ve taken trips up to a week long with nothing but a backpack on a Spirit flight, so I can confirm it’s possible.

You’ll need to be strategic about how you pack, but this is the easiest way to avoid paying any additional fees.

2. Pay for baggage during booking

If you know you’ll need a bit more space for all your vacation gear, it’s best to pay for a checked bag at the time of booking. That’s because you’ll save about $30 when compared to checking your bag at the gate.

If you forget to pay for your baggage when you book, you can also make your purchase before or during check-in, which still provides some savings.

3. Join the $9 Fare Club

$9 Fare Club members get access to exclusive low prices and up to 50% off bags when compared to standard airport fees. What’s more, your membership covers everyone in your booking.

It costs $59.95 for your first year, but Spirit notes you may be able to offset the price in just one booking. With your membership, you’ll pay as little as $28 for a carry-on bag and $23 for your first checked bag when you pay for your baggage during booking.

4. Bring your military documentation

Spirit Airlines offers one free carry-on and two free checked bags for all active duty military members. To get the discount, you’ll either need to arrive early to the airport with your military ID or validate your affiliation online during booking with a third-party verification service.

5. Use a general travel card

If you're looking for the best travel credit cards, a number of cards offer impressive travel rewards, which can help cover the cost of your bag fees on almost any airline.  

For example, several American Express cards provide an annual airline fee credit that could cover Spirit baggage fees. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit, which could also be used to cover baggage fees.

If you travel frequently on Spirit, the Spirit Airlines World Mastercard might be the best airline credit card option, which earns double miles and offers a decent sign-up bonus. Putting everyday purchases on this card could help you pay for your next trip if you regularly fly on Spirit.

Frequently asked questions about Spirit baggage

How many bags does Spirit allow for military?

In addition to a free personal item, Spirit allows one free carry-on luggage item and two free checked bags for active-duty U.S. military members. If space allows, any passenger can bring up to five checked bags, but only the first two are free for military members. The policy does not extend to family members of military members.

Does Spirit offer free baggage for military?

Yes! Spirit offers one free carry-on and two free checked bags for active duty U.S. military members. Travelers should arrive early enough to check their bags at the counter and show their military identification. Or, they can validate their affiliation online before arriving at the airport by using a third-party verification service.

What size bag can you carry on Spirit Airlines for free? Can you bring a backpack on Spirit for free?

Spirit allows you to bring one personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, meaning that it cannot exceed 18” x 14” x 8”. You can bring a small backpack for free as long as it is not larger than that. Larger backpacks or other carry-on bags cost extra.

How much does Spirit charge for baggage?

You can bring one personal item free on Spirit, but additional carry-ons and checked baggage are extra in order for Spirit to keep fares low. The price depends on when you pay for your baggage. If you pay during booking, a standard carry-on will set you back $35 to $40, depending on your route. Paying at the gate costs $65.

Your first checked bag will cost $30 to $35 if you pay during booking and up to $65 if you pay at the gate. The earlier you pay for your baggage, the better rate you’ll get.

Excess baggage costs even more. Your second checked bag can run anywhere from $40 to $60, depending on when you book, and your 3rd-5th checked bags will cost $85 to $100 each. Overweight and oversize baggage charges also apply.

Keep in mind that you can save money on baggage costs by joining the $9 Fare Club, which costs $59.95 for the first year. You can save up to 50% on baggage fees when compared to paying at the airport, in addition to airfare savings opportunities.

How much does Spirit charge for bags over 40 pounds?

Baggage weight limits and corresponding fees for Spirit Airlines are as follows:

  • 41-50 pounds: $30
  • 51-70 pounds: $60
  • 71-100 pounds: $100

If you're going to be paying baggage fees like these, you might find the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card comes in mighty handy with its $300 annual travel credit.

Can you add baggage after booking on Spirit?

Yes, you can add baggage, but you’ll pay more than you would during booking. Carry-ons cost $45 to $50 after booking, but before or during online check-in. You’ll pay about $55 if you pay at the airport reservation desk and prices increase to $65 if you wait until you get to the gate.

Your first checked bag can be added for $40 to $45 before or during online check-in, $50 at the reservation desk, and $65 at the gate. Note that additional checked bags will cost more and you will not be able to check more than your first bag at the gate.

Does Spirit refund baggage fees?

No. All fees on Spirit Airlines are non-refundable.

The bottom line on the Spirit Airlines baggage policy

You should never have to pay an exorbitant price just to lug around your necessities — but if you’re not careful, Spirit Airlines’ baggage fees can end up being some of the most costly. Whether you pack light, use a rewards credit card, or take advantage of membership discounts, we’re confident you’ll find a way to keep your costs low.

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Author Details

Lindsay Frankel Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.