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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Spirit of Nickle & Dime-ing

I'm sure I'm not the first person to blog on this topic.

I’ve just had my introductory experience with Spirit Airlines. My sister had warned me: Expect an upcharge for everything. No complimentary beverages. Even water costs money. Unless you can sneak a drink from the faucet water in the bathroom (I do NOT recommend this). More on that later.

An inexperienced Spirit traveler can quickly be depressed in spirit unless you know the game. For example, ticket and baggage fees. If you don't print your boarding pass ahead of time, you pay ten bucks at the ticket counter. If you wait until you arrive at the ticket counter to check baggage, you really missed it. You see, you had two earlier chances. You could have paid a baggage fee when you purchased your ticket. Or when you printed your boarding pass. You poor sucker. Now you pay the super premium baggage fee. But wait...another surprise could be in store. You might be used to the well established 50-pound weight limit for luggage. Nope. Spirit has you down to 40 pounds.

Now there's the carry on fees. You think you’ll save money by just bringing a small piece of luggage for the overhead bin? Think again! A child size backpack or medium briefcase qualifies as a personal item, but anything larger is a carry on surcharge … $100 at the gate! Whee! Are we having fun yet? Surprise!

How strict are they? Depends. (Yes, I’m sure they would charge you for Depends as well.) One guy who brought a large overhead bag and a personal item paid nothing by sneaking past the boarding agent. He was sweating, though, since he didn't know the rules.

Seeing the innovative ways Spirit finds to make added revenue, I have a few recommended upcharges for them. I suggest add-on fees for any access to the overhead bin during the flight. A charge for the flotation device, seat belt, and oxygen mask, if used. Fees for lowering the tray table, using the overhead light, or the fan. And, of course, the air sickness bag. (By the way, there was NO air sickness bag in the seat pouch on either of the flights we took, so perhaps they really do charge for them.)

Use the toilet? Maybe charge for the bathroom light, flushing, toilet paper, water to wash your hands, and those paper towels. A supercharge if you leave the seat up.

During the flight, Spirit recommends you get their credit card. Let's see...possible up charges for using the card: receiving paper statements, paying by check....hmmm....what else? Maybe if you call to register the card when it arrives there’s a fee.

All chiding aside, Spirit Airlines got us to our destination and back for the lowest price we could find. And if you know of all the fees upfront, you can maximize your savings. I found their on board menu to be quite reasonable. But there was no magazine to read while munching on the snacks.

In the spiritual life, many believe that our eternity requires we pay a price for all of our wrongdoings. Some believe we can offset these sins ourselves in the afterlife. I am convinced God is the rescuer. Completely.

Here is what the Bible teaches. “I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NCV)

We do not pay the price. We accept the gift. A great and wonderful gift we receive by faith.

But when it comes to airline travel…that’s a different story. And knowing what I now know — as often as possible — when traveling any direction, I'm flying Southwest. Gotta love those free Lorna Doon cookies.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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