How Strict is Spirit Airlines Regarding Their Baggage Allowances?: duffel bag at airport terminal

Spirit Airlines is famous for its budget-friendly flying. However, it’s also gained quite the reputation for its strict baggage rules, leaving many travelers asking, “How strict is Spirit Airlines regarding their baggage allowances?”

We’re here to provide you with all the answers you need.

In this guide, we’ll not only break down the airline’s baggage policies but also share some handy tips and tricks to help you navigate them like a pro.

Read on for more details…

Just how strict is Spirit Airlines with baggage allowances?

Spirit Airlines has a very strict baggage policy to help keep their ticket prices low. Here’s the deal: You’re allowed only one free personal item per passenger, but all other bags must be paid for. They have different fees for carry-on bags, checked bags, and oversized bags.

The fees can be quite high, so it’s important to check their baggage policy before you book your flight.

To keep your journey hassle-free and budget-friendly, I recommend you play by their baggage rules. It’ll save you from any surprise fees along the way!

Understanding Spirit Airlines’ Baggage Allowances

How Strict is Spirit Airlines Regarding Their Baggage Allowances?: Picture of Spirit Airlines sizer at the airport

Spirit Airlines passengers are charged for all other bags except for personal item bags. This is so that the airline can keep their ticket prices low.

The fee you’ll pay for your baggage depends on several factors, such as the size and weight of your bags, when and how you pay for them (at initial booking, before/during check-in, at the airport, or the gate), and your membership status.

Let’s break down their standard policies.

Personal item allowance

Spirit Airlines defines personal items as small backpacks, purses, or laptop bags that “fit entirely in the smaller sizer box”. How strict is Spirit with personal item size, you say? Well, it’s stated on their website that the dimensions must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) including handles and wheels, and must fit under the seat in front of you. .  

Restrictions or Fees: Personal items are free.  

Spirit Airlines Carry-On Baggage Policy

How Strict is Spirit Airlines Regarding Their Baggage Allowances?: Picture of Spirit Airlines sizer for carry on luggage

Spirit Airlines has some rules when it comes to carry-on size – they say it can’t exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm), including those handles and wheels. Anything larger, and it’s a no-go for in-cabin storage; you’ll have to check it in.

Restrictions or Fees: Unlike major legacy airlines like Alaska, American, and Delta, Spirit Airlines won’t give you a free pass for your carry on luggage.

According to Send My Bag, a luggage shipping company, the fee for an additional carry-on item with Spirit Airlines varies depending on when you decide to snag that extra allowance – whether it’s during your initial booking, before or during check-in, at the airport, or even at the gate.

In their words, “For most flights, the fee is $65, one way, as standard, if purchased during online booking. If a passenger is a member of the Saver$ club*, they can purchase their carry-on allowance for $64. If, however, the allowance is purchased during online check-in, the cost is $75 as standard, or $74 for club members. The price increases to $89 at the airport, or $99 at the gate.” Lindsay Frankel, a finance writer at Finance Buzz, mentions that members of the Spirit Saver$ Club can enjoy reduced prices, except when paying at the gate.   

Spirit airlines checked luggage policy

How Strict is Spirit Airlines Regarding Their Baggage Allowances?: Picture of Spirit Airlines checked luggage dimensions

How strict is Spirit Airlines with checked baggage size? Well, the airline imposes a strict size and weight limits for checked bags, with the maximum size being 62 linear inches (length + width + height) and the maximum weight being 40 pounds (18.1 kg).

Fees for checked luggage: Your checked bag is also not free. And just as with carry-on bags, Spirit Airlines baggage fees for checked bags vary depending on when you book them and the size of the bag. 

As an example, here are the approximate costs for checked baggage for a sample flight from Fort Lauderdale to Charleston according to Finance Buzz:

First checked bag fees:

  • During booking at $53
  • Before online check-in: $54 to $55
  • During online check-in: $56 to $63
  • At airport check-in: $64 to $89
  • At the gate: $99

You can check up to five bags into the hold. Of course, the more bags you need to check, the more each bag will cost. Plus, you can use the Spirit Bag-O-Tron tool to calculate the cost of bags for a specific flight.

Spirit Airlines additional fees and policies

In addition to the standard policies, there are other fees and unique policies related to baggage that travelers should be aware of, such as:

  • Oversized/Overweight Fees: Spirit Airlines will charge extra if your baggage exceeds the weight limit. E.g. you’ll pay + $79 for bags that weigh 41 – 50 lbs. (18 – 23 kg). 
  • Special Items: Travelers with sports equipment, musical instruments, or other unique items would also pay. E.g. a bicycle would cost you $75.

What travelers are saying…

How Strict is Spirit Airlines Regarding Their Baggage Allowances?: Blurred Image of people walking

Let’s see what fellow travelers have to say about how strictly Spirit Airlines enforces its baggage rules. These insights are based on real experiences shared on platforms like Quora, Ask MetaFilter, Reddit, Trip Advisor, and personal travel blogs.

On Quora, most responders believe that Spirit Airlines is quite strict with their baggage allowances.

Ben D, who worked in e-commerce ticketing for major airlines for four years, confirmed this by saying, “Yes, you will have to pay to check or put a second bag in the overhead bin… They are very strict.” 

Nancy Gibson, an experienced world traveler agreed, stating that in some airports, Spirit is very strict. If your bag doesn’t fit in their sizer, you could face a $100 fee at the gate. However, she pointed out that the personal item bag size allowance is quite generous, allowing you to bring your essentials and a few non-essentials in an 18″ x 14″ x 8″ bag.

This Reddit member shared their experience saying they are strict. Here’s what they had to say:

Maybe it’s changed recently or I just got a strict agent, but my experience is they were VERY strict. They made everyone put their bag in the measuring bin before boarding, and charged $99 if it even slightly didn’t fit. Guy in front of me had a bag that peeked over the edge by about half an inch, and they wouldn’t let it fly (hard shell so he couldn’t squish it.) Even when he pleaded saying he didn’t have the money to spare, they told him to either change his flight so he could go buy a smaller bag or forfeit his ticket. I’ve never seen such petty nickel and diming from an airline.”

From the discussion on the Trip Advisor forum, it became clear some travelers believe that airline staff often overlook personal item rules, possibly to avoid conflicts with passengers who have exceeded the limits before.

Nonetheless, some members advise adhering to the rules to avoid potential complications, regardless of how inconsistently these rules may be enforced by airline staff.

On Ask MetaFilter, travelers wanted to know if a bag that exceeds the specified dimensions but still fits in the metal container used for size checks would be accepted as a personal item.

One member suggested that if the bag fits inside the metal bin, it should be acceptable, even if it’s slightly larger than the specified dimensions. Another person shared their experience, mentioning that Spirit Airlines employees typically don’t meticulously measure the bags. It’s more of an eyeball check, and trouble might only arise if the item is clearly too big to fit under the seat in front.

In summary, while some travelers have mentioned that Spirit may not be very strict, the majority tend to agree that it is and say following the rules prevents annoying charges.   

My take on Spirit Airlines’ strict baggage rules

In my experience with air travel, it seems that gate agents tend to keep a closer eye on rolling bags compared to backpacks.

So, if you want to push the boundaries a bit, it might be possible to get a slightly larger backpack past them. However, I wouldn’t recommend trying this with wheeled bags, unless they fall into the category of very small underseater ones.

That said, I believe flying with Spirit Airlines can be a budget-friendly choice as long as you understand and follow their baggage policies. My advice is to stick to the rules rather than trying to bend them, as you might end up facing unexpected charges.

Tips on how to reduce or avoid bag fees on Spirit Airlines

Given Spirit Airlines flights strict baggage policies, here are some practical strategies for you to maximize the allowances and minimize fees:

  • Travel light with only a personal item: Spirit allows passengers to bring one personal item on board for free. Maximize this by packing efficiently and using a compact backpack or small tote bag. 
  • Measure Your Bag: Before you travel, measure your personal item to ensure it meets Spirit’s size requirements (18″ x 14″ x 8″). If it’s slightly larger, consider downsizing or switching to a smaller bag.
  • Pay Bag Fees Early: If you know you’ll need more luggage, pay for carry-on or checked bags during the booking process or online before your flight. It’s often cheaper than paying at the airport.
  • Join the Spirit Saver$ Club: The membership provides discounts on bag fees among other perks. If you fly Spirit frequently, this could save you money in the long run.
  • Pack Light and Smart: Streamline your packing by bringing only essentials and using compression bags or packing cubes to maximize space in your one personal item.
  • Use a Backpack: If your personal item is slightly larger than the official overall dimensions, consider using a backpack to increase your chances of not being charged extra. I believe you can easily get away with a slightly bigger backpack than a duffel or rolling bag.
  • Be Mindful of Overhead Bins: If you’re bringing a larger carry-on luggage that you’ve paid for, be sure it meets Spirit’s size requirements. Gate agents may check, and if it doesn’t fit, you could face additional charges.
  • Stay Informed: Baggage policies can change, so always check their official website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information on fees and policies.


What is the maximum size for a personal item on Spirit Airlines?

The maximum size for a personal item bag on Spirit Airlines flights is 18 x 14 x 8 inches, including handles and wheels.

How much does Spirit Airlines charge for checked baggage?

The baggage fees for checked baggage on Spirit Airlines can vary based on factors like route, time of booking, and membership in the Spirit Saver$ Club Just expect you can pay up to $53 for your checked bag.

Can I bring a carry-on bag for free on Spirit Airlines?

No. Spirit Airlines charges for carry-on bags, except for those that meet the criteria of a personal item. 

My luggage is slightly oversized, should I risk it?

Taking a chance with slightly oversized luggage on Spirit Airlines is a gamble. Some folks might slip by without a hitch, but there’s no promise you won’t get hit with extra baggage fees if your bag is found to be in violation of their size limits.

If you must, go for a soft-sided bag like a backpack or tote; they’re more likely to squeeze into the sizer if necessary. However, I think it’s safer to stick to the size limits to avoid unexpected charges.

What is Spirit’s carry on liquids 

Spirit Airlines, like many other airlines, follows TSA guidelines for carry-on 3-1-1 liquids rule. You can bring small containers (3.4 ounces or less per item) in a quart-sized clear plastic bag, with one bag per passenger.

How do I make the most of my personal item space?

How strict is Spirit with carry on?

Spirit Airlines takes carry-on baggage rules seriously. They have specific size limits: your bag should not exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches. Going over these limits means extra fees.

Can I take 2 bags with Spirit?

Yes, you can bring two bags with Spirit Airlines, but there’s a catch. Your ticket includes one free personal item, like a small backpack or purse. However, for the second bag, usually a carry-on, you’ll have to pay an extra fee.  

What happens if your checked bag is overweight Spirit?

If your checked bag on Spirit Airlines exceeds the weight limit, you will be charged an overweight baggage fee.

Can I have two personal items on Spirit?

So, is Spirit Airlines really strict with baggage policy?

In summary, Spirit Airlines does have strict baggage policies in place to support their budget-friendly fares. Although some travelers may sometimes get away with bending the rules, the level of enforcement can differ from flight to flight and airport to airport.

To ensure your trip goes smoothly without unexpected costs, it’s advisable to stick to Spirit’s specified baggage dimensions, weight limits, and associated fees.

Staying informed about their current policies and planning your packing accordingly can help you avoid unexpected hassles and expenses, ensuring a more enjoyable journey with Spirit Airlines.

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