You’ve probably heard the rumors about Spirit Airlines being strict with personal items, but let’s dive into the facts and separate the myths from reality.

Here I’ll explain just how strict Spirit Airlines is when it comes to personal items.

Let’s find out! 

How strict is Spirit Airlines with personal item?

Spirit tends to be quite strict about the size of personal items. The size limit is crucial: anything exceeding these dimensions might have you coughing up additional fees. If you’re even slightly over the limit, there’s a chance the staff of Spirit Airline might flag it.

So if you want to avoid unexpected fees and travel disruptions on this airline, I advise you to stick with their baggage policies.

I would also suggest you travel with airline-approved bags that perfectly fit Spirit’s personal item size.   

Spirit Airlines Personal Item Policy

How Strict is Spirit Airlines with Personal Item?

To understand how strict Spirit is with personal items, it’s essential to first grasp their baggage policies. Spirit Airlines Inc. is a major U.S. airline known for its competitive airfares and renowned for its “Bare Fare” pricing model. This means they offer incredibly low base fares but charge extra for add-ons, including baggage.

Spirit Airlines noted this themselves, saying that “One personal item that fits entirely in the smaller sizer box (like a purse, small backpack, etc.) is included with your ticket. Another personal item or anything larger like a standard carry-on or checked bag will need to be paid for.”

The good thing is that a personal item is usually included in your fare. However, it must meet specific size restrictions. Spirit defines a personal item as something like a purse, small backpack, or laptop bag that can fit entirely under the seat in front of you. 

Size and Weight Restrictions

Spirit allows a personal item per passenger, free of charge, such as a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack. Your personal item must be small enough to store under the seat in front of you.

Also very importantly, this should fit within the dimensions of 18 x 14 x 8 inches (including handles and wheels). Personal items larger than these dimensions will be checked at the gate. 

But does Spirit have a weight limit for a personal item bag? 

Well, they do not. Travelpro also noted that “the airline does not have a set weight for personal items, but it’s fair to assume gate agents will ask you to check any item weighing more than 40 lbs.” 

Exceptions and Allowances

Alongside your personal item bag, Spirit Airlines is quite accommodating when it comes to carrying other items on board, and there are no extra fees involved. This includes things like umbrellas, cameras, baby diaper bags, essential medical equipment, and outer clothing. 

Additionally, you can pack essentials approved by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) like books, some snacks or food, and even a duty-free shopping bag or box filled with duty-free items, all without any additional cost.

If you’re a fan of neck or head pillows for added comfort during your flight, that’s okay too! The airlines allows you to bring them on board, as long as they can fit comfortably inside your personal item bag. So, it’s not just your personal item but also these essentials and comforts that can join you on your Spirit Airlines journey. 

Consequences of Violating Spirit’s Policy

Here’s where things can get sticky.

If your personal item doesn’t fit the size box at the gate, you could end up paying a gate-checked fee, which is often higher than the fee you’d pay at check-in. 

While a personal item may be included in the fare, any additional carry-on bag or checked baggage will cost you. The fees for carry-on bags and checked luggage can add up quickly, and it’s essential to be aware of these costs when planning your trip. To get the best deal, I think it’s a good idea to pay for your bags online in advance, as fees can be significantly higher if you wait until the airport. 

What If My Spirit Personal Item Is Oversized?

Well, if your personal item is slightly larger than Spirit’s guidelines, you might face one of two situations.

First, if it’s not blatantly oversized, there’s a chance you might go unnoticed. I’ve seen folks who’ve managed to board without a hitch, especially with soft-sided bags that can be squeezed or adjusted a bit.

Another alternative is that you may get caught. If it’s visibly large or if Spirit Airlines staff decides to scrutinize it on that day, you could end up in a sticky situation. If caught, you’ll need to cough up an additional fee, and your item might be gate-checked.

Bottom line? Play it safe and stick to the size guidelines. Trust me, the peace of mind is worth it! 

Passengers’ Experiences on Spirit Airline’s Personal Item

How Strict is Spirit Airlines with Personal Item?

To gauge how strict Spirit Airlines truly is with personal items, let’s consider the experiences of fellow travelers. I found a wide range of opinions online, but many people have reported that as long as your personal item is within the specified dimensions, you should be okay.

One Reddit user was curious about traveling with a backpack measuring 10.5 x 20.5 x 12.5 inches, which exceeds Spirit’s recommended personal item dimensions of 18 x 14 x 8 inches. They hoped that the “soft” nature of their bag might be the ticket to a smooth journey. They asked, “Is Spirit super strict?”

In response, another traveler confirmed it was doable. They shared, “I had a duffel bag close to this size and did exactly that. No one said anything, and I even managed to sneak it into the overhead bin.”

On the Ask MetaFilter forum, members leaned towards Spirit being relatively lenient with personal items that nudge the acceptable size limits. One member shared, “I had no problem flying with an item that was nudging the max underseat size.” Another chimed in, saying, “If it fits within the metal bin, you are good. It doesn’t matter if it is a soft-sided bag that is larger than the dimensions.”

In discussions on the Trip Advisor forum, some travelers believed that Spirit staff occasionally overlook personal item rules to avoid conflicts with passengers who have exceeded limits in the past. However, some members advised adhering to the rules to avoid potential complications, regardless of how inconsistently these rules might be enforced.

Still, some maintain that Spirit Airlines is indeed strict about enforcing personal item size limits. Henry, the founder of The Getaway Lounge, commented, “Spirit Airlines are very strict and limit passengers to one personal item unless you pay for additional luggage.”

On the FlyerTalk forum, members shared similar sentiments on Spirit personal item. One member revealed, “I fly Spirit all the time. They are very strict. If it can fit under the seat, you don’t have to pay, but if it has to go into the overhead bin, they charge.”

Steven Porrello, a writer for The Ascent, emphasized the consequences of not adhering to the rules. He shared that both Spirit and Frontier require passengers to test personal items in sizing racks at boarding to determine if they meet the appropriate dimensions. 

If your bag doesn’t fit, you’ll be charged an additional $99 to upgrade to a carry-on baggage or checked bag. Porrello recounted how he witnessed passengers having to pay this fee, and even a family of six missed their flight due to a dispute with airline personnel.

So, it’s clear – it’s a gamble. You may or may not get away with a slightly bigger personal item bag. 

My Verdict…

While there are instances of travelers getting away with slightly larger personal items, it’s safer to stick to the recommended size limits, including handles and wheels measurement.

The experiences of various travelers and experts suggest that Spirit Airlines can be strict about personal item size.
Henry, the founder of The Getaway Lounge, advises against risking oversized items, as it’s likely the airline staff will enforce the rules at the airport.

So, to be on the safe side, I recommend you use Airlines-approved personal item bag that perfectly fits their requirements. This ensures a smooth journey without any last-minute surprises or fees.  


Tips for Complying with Spirit’s Personal Item Policy

Does Spirit actually check bag size?

Indeed they do! While they might not measure every single bag and do not have a weight limit, they do have sizing boxes at the gate. If your bag looks suspiciously big, they might ask you to fit it in there. If it doesn’t fit, you might end up paying a fee.

What happens if your personal item is too big?

If your personal item is deemed too big, especially at the gate, you’ll likely have to pay an additional fee. The bag might be gate-checked, and you’d collect it after landing. 

Does Spirit really charge for carry-on bags? 

Yes, unlike personal items, which are free, Spirit does charge for carry-on bags. The fee varies based on when you decide to pay for it (when booking, pre-check-in, at the gate, etc.) So, it’s worth deciding early if you need that extra space!

How to choose the best personal item bag for Spirit Airlines

How strict is Spirit Airlines regarding their baggage allowances?

Spirit Airlines is known for its stringent baggage policies. While some Spirit Airlines passengers have gotten away with slightly oversized bags, it’s a gamble. I always advise adhering to their guidelines and sticking to airline compliant bag to avoid any unexpected fees or hassles.

So, is Spirit strict with their personal item policy?

How Strict is Spirit Airlines with Personal Item?

In conclusion, Spirit Airlines can be pretty strict about personal items when it comes to size restrictions. However, as long as your personal item meets their criteria, you should be good to go without extra charges. And remember, Spirit Airlines will charge you for a carry-on bag and only allows free baggage allowance for a piece of hand luggage.

To ensure a smooth journey with this low-cost carrier, pack smart, and always double-check their baggage policies before your trip. By doing so, you can take full advantage of those budget fares without any surprises at the gate. 

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