Guide to Spirit & Frontier Personal Baggage Allowance

Guide to Spirit & Frontier Personal Baggage Allowance

You love low fares; we love low fares. It’s why we set up Jack’s Flight Club and it’s why you’re here! If you’ve tried getting anywhere in the US for under $100 return trip, you’ve likely come across both Spirit and Frontier Airlines. These insanely low-cost carriers rival the likes of JetBlue and Southwest by offering fares that can’t help but lure in budget-savvy travellers.

For anyone who’s tried to book a ticket with either carrier, you’ve likely seen that these prices come with a cost in additional fees for things you’d often take for granted, such as sitting with your travel companion(s), having a drink (or even water!) on-board, and especially their top money-maker: bringing a regular-sized cabin bag on-board.

To ensure that your flight remains as cheap as possible, we’ve written this handy guide about the two airlines’ baggage policies and how to make the absolute most of your free allowance.

Spirit Air

Spirit  Airlines Airplane

Love them or hate them, you can’t help but be impressed at Spirit Air’s US domestic coverage or their super low fares. Their personal baggage policy is, in their own words, “Designed to maximize the passenger’s budget.” Whichever way you look at it, your cheap ticket could end up looking a little less appealing once you’ve added a decent sized bag into the mix.

How strict is Spirit’s personal baggage policy?

Very. If your free personal bag doesn’t fit in the bag sizer at the check-in counter (and sometimes even at the gate), you’ll have to pay ~$65 to have it placed in the hold. At an allowance of 18 x 14 x 8 inches, this means that anything over the size of a small rucksack, handbag or laptop bag is at risk of being charged for. 

Pro Tip: Unless you’re checking a bag, avoid the check-in counter at all costs. Check-in online, print your boarding pass and go straight through security. Their staff will often avoid doing thorough baggage allowance checks at the gate (especially on delayed flights), while a stop at the counter only gives them another opportunity to find a reason to fine you. Less staff interaction is encouraged!

Why do they charge fees to add a regular-sized cabin bag?

Spirit Air insists that efficiency and timekeeping is the primary aim of this exercise to keep fares low. Anyone who has taken a flight with Spirit Air will know its punctuality issues, so the airline aims to reduce the number of bags having to be removed at the departure gate and checked into the hold and thus speed up the boarding process.

Additionally, charging add-on fees for nearly everything helps them keep their base flight prices as low as they are, driving more customers to their website over the competition.

What is their baggage policy & how much do they charge?

Passengers are allowed one free bag up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches, with a $65 fee at the gate should this not fit in the bag sizer. For an additional cabin bag up to 55 x 40 x 20cm, if you're part of Spirit's Fare Club it is $26-$47 and non-members $35-$49. 

In terms of checked baggage, a 40lb piece can be purchased for $21-$26 for Spirit fare Club members and $30-$35 for non-members each way at the time of booking, or $70 either later on or at the check-in desk. It’s worth pointing out that a $12 per lb excess will be charged should your checked bag be over the weight allowance. You can see a more detailed breakdown of charges for sports equipment, musical instruments and more here.

How to make the most of the free baggage allowance

Whisper it: while your free bag is supposed to fit under the seat in front of you, it can usually be placed into the overhead lockers without too much fuss, freeing up a bit more room for you. Be sure to arrive at the departure gate early to find some space on board. Space and budget-conscious travellers should consider a bag such as this that complies with the free baggage allowance, or this stylish little number (Note: We are not affiliated with these sellers).

Pro Tip: Avoid hard side luggage and go with a soft side bag for your carry-on. You’ll typically be able to fit at least 25% more and still muscle it into their bag-sizer at the gate if asked to!

Other ways Spirit Air can catch you slipping:

Know what you paid for. If you do choose to pay for a full-sized carry-on or checked bag, remember that you did. Their check-in process and boarding passes purposely make it difficult to see what you’ve already paid for as they try to encourage you to make those same purchases again by mistake. You won’t be getting a refund if you’ve accidentally paid for 2 checked bags.

Frontier Air

Frontier Airlines Airplane

Frontier Air has slowly been expanding their control of the budget airline market over the past few years. The US was previously dominated by mainly upper- to mid-price airlines and people are now looking for alternatives such as Frontier and Spirit.

Much like Spirit Air, they offer rock bottom fares with the proviso that a standard cabin bag and other items will cost you extra!

How strict is Frontier Air’s personal baggage policy?

Strict! Like Spirit Air, you are allowed one small personal item for free but for an additional carry-on (that can be no more than 10"x16"x24" or 35lbs) it will cost you $30-$45 if you pre-booked, or $60 at the airport.

Why do they charge fees to add a regular-sized cabin bag?

They charge fees to compete with the likes of Spirit Air, Allegiant and Southwest on price, not to mention to attract potential customers with their low base fares. All the same reasons as those stated above.

What is their baggage policy & how much do they charge?

While one personal item per passenger is allowed for free, Frontier charges a fee for all additional carry-on luggage. Carry-on bags must not exceed 10" x 16" x 24" in size and 35lbs in weight. Bags exceeding this size must be checked at the gate at a cost of $60.

Frontier charges for all checked baggage.  Checked bags must weigh no more than  50lbs and measure 62″ (L+W+H) or less. Checked baggage fees range from $30 for pre-paid to $85 if checked at the airport.

Checking-in excess baggage, meaning three or more bags per passenger, costs $85-$95 per bag.

How to make the most of Frontier Air’s free baggage allowance

Smart and affordable options such as this 26 pocket vest that holds your in-flight essentials could be a good option to comply with the size regulations (not affiliated, just a great item). 

Pro Tip: If you’re going somewhere cold, wear your most space-consuming clothes at the airport (or even carry them on your arm). Jackets do not need to be paid for as extra luggage so opt for a big coat with deep pockets and fill them with anything that won’t fit in your free bag. Once onboard, you can usually fit it between the cabin bags in the overhead locker.

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