Spirit Airlines

More April Fools’ Day aviation news

In addition to this list of April 1 travel tidbits sharing April Fools’ Day announcements from WestJet, Richard Branson and Denver International Airport, you should know about these April Fools’ Day announcements.

Southwest Airlines released a video saying “all the other guys are doing it,” so they were beginning a “bag fee bandwagon bonanza” based on bag color.

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Virgin Australia announced a special pre-flight lounge for pets.

 

Qantas Airways posted a note on its Facebook page announcing a slight change in the spelling of the carrier’s name:

Putting ‘U’ in QANTAS! So excited to today be adding a ‘U’ into our name, QANTAS, to acknowledge all of our passengers worldwide. Look out for the QUANTAS name change as of midday today!”

 

Delta Air Lines announced it would begin serving a version of its popular Biscoff cookies – made with kale.

Spirit Airlines announced Spirit Superiority Boarding at all U.S. airport locations.

Because “the boarding process for most airlines can be lengthy, confusing, and frankly insulting…these new boarding procedures will clear things up,” the airline said it a statement announcing a new line-up of boarding priorities that starts with gluten-free customers, members of the Illuminati, those with O-negative blood type and ends with people who eat kale and, finally… everyone else.

And, in Seattle, the Museum of Flight announced plans for adding real personality to some exhibits.

“Traditionally, an aerospace museum accessions an aircraft or spacecraft at the end of its service life to conserve and protect it for the enlightenment of future generations,” said museum spokesman Ted Huetter, “we now aim to treat the people in aerospace the same way. It’s that simple. And thanks to recent advances in the art of preserving human tissue, the exhibition of an aviator is no different from that of an old propeller or clock.”

Huetter noted that the museum has planes dating back to the 1920s and 1930s and that there are people alive today who flew in these planes. “When they pass away we will reunite them with the aircraft forever,” he said.

Spirit Airlines: inviting venting & making crop circles

Hate how you’re treated by airlines?

Many travelers have horror stories to share or an airline they especially love to hate.

Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines, one of the most complained-about airlines in the industry, is trying to harness that hate (and generate publicity) with a campaign inviting travelers to vent about any airline, including Spirit, in up to 140 characters.

“We want to change the way people think about air travel and educate them about the Spirit way of traveling,” said Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s CEO, in a statement. “We’re going to Hug The Haters.”

Each “venter” who participates in Spirit’s Hate Thousand Miles Giveaway will receive 8,000 of the airline’s frequent-flier miles, which is about 2,000 miles short of a free flight. They must have or sign up for a Spirit Airlines mileage account. Travelers who have the airline’s credit card can use those miles toward several free flights.

The promotion will end once the airline gives away one billion miles.

“So far, there’s been a lot of venting about delays, weather and all the problems you’d have on almost any airline,” said Paul Berry, Spirit Airlines spokesman.

Spirit Airlines is known for its a-la-carte, unbundled menu of charging fees for everything from pre-assigned seats to printing out a boarding pass at the airport. The airline has also come under criticism for some of its offbeat and, at times, off-color advertisements playing on scandals in the news.

Right now there’s a crop circle in a field next to Kansas City International Airport in the shape of a man covering his privates. No Spirit Airlines logo is present in the crop circle, but there are “Bare Fare” billboards up around the airport.

CROP CIRCLE

“The crop circle was created to promote our totally stripped down Bare Fares and the fact that we’ll be starting service to and from Kansas City in August,” said Berry.

While the figure in the crop circle has no clothes, he does appear to have a suitcase of some sort beside him. And unless that carry-on will fit under the seat, Spirit Airlines could charge crop circle guy up to $100 to check his bag.

(My story about Spirit Airlines first appeared on NBC News Travel)

Spirit Airlines ups the ante: will charge $100 for carry-on bags

Spirit Airlines is being really mean-spirited now.

On Monday the airline announced that, beginning on November 6, passengers who wait until they get to the boarding gate to pay the airline’s fee for checking a piece of luggage or carrying it onto the airplane will pay $100 per bag.

Passengers can pay lower luggage fees by paying earlier in the process, such as online , on the phone or at an airline kiosk. but there’s no way around paying something to carry-on or check a piece of luggage.

Spirit is the airline that advertises really low fares but often surprises unsuspecting customers with hefty added fees for everything from seat assignments to onb0ard drinks.  Beginning October 31, 2012, the airline will also begin charging a $2 fee for printing a boarding pass at an airline kiosk. (Since January there’s been a $5 fee to have a boarding pass printed by an agent at the airport.)

Spirit claims that separating out these – and a plethora of other fees – “empowers customers to save money on air travel.” You decide.

Here’s the new chart of fees for baggage

For now passengers flying on a Spirit Airlines flight are not charged a fee for taking aboard one personal item that fits under the seat.

To the moon or to the center of the earth

I’m sure I’ll have to update this come Sunday morning, but long before April 1, 2012 rolled around in my time zone, I made a few April Fools’ Day sightings.

From the Republic of Vanuatu comes word that Richard Branson has launched “Virgin Volacanic” in order to take travelers to the center of the earth

“Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.”

First up (or should I say down) is Etna – Sicily, Italy, followed by:
• Stromboli – Aeolian Islands
• Yasur – Republic of Vanuatu
• Ambrym – Republic of Vanuatu
• Tinakula – Solomon Islands

The first trips are scheduled for 2015. More details here.

Also, we have news from WestJet about a kids-free flying experience:

Details of Kargo Kids, including booking information and a simple, easy-to-understand demonstration video, is available on the WestJet website

Air New Zealand announced “STRAIGHTUP Fares” for those willing to fly while standing in the aisle holding onto a hand bar.

And Spirit Airlines, ever the prankster, announced $9 (each way) flights to the moon.

Pay for carry-on bags? We’ll see about that.

We all knew this was coming – someday – right?

Spirit Airlines announced that, come August 1st, you’ll need to pay a fee (up to $45 if you wait until the last minute) to stow a bag, a box, or that container holding our uncle’s cremains in the overhead bin.

The alternatives?  Check your bags (there’s a fee for that as well) or tote less.  Or, as many of the 45,000 people who voted so far in the msnbc.com on-line survey vow to do, fly a different airline.  “Enough is enough,” wrote one voter. “They must think we’re idiots,” said another.

For their part, Spirit Airlines claims that by unbundling this fee, passengers might save money.

Given the fact that Spirit adds fees for just about everything else, the potential to save money by traveling with no luggage is highly disputed.  But the airline also suggests that charging for carry-ons will reduce boarding hassles.  Spirit Airlines COO Ken McKenzie claims the new charge “will reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve in-flight safety and efficiency by speeding up the boarding and deplaning process, all of which ultimately improve the overall customer experience.”

We’ll see about that.  And, of course, we probably only have to wait until about, oh, August 2nd, to find out if other airlines will follow Spirit’s lead.  It’s a good bet.  We were all shocked when airlines started charging for checked bags and snacks but now, as my mother used to say about things far worse than that, it’s all just part of the game.

To add your vote to the msnbc.com carry-on bag survey, to read my column on the topic, and to see all sorts of videos and other reporting on this topic, see Unbundled baggage fees reach the overhead bin.