Lawsuit Accuses Spirit Airlines of Using Unnecessary Fee to Boost Profits
A class-action lawsuit charges that Spirit Airlines deceived customers by misrepresenting one of the many extra fees the carrier charges on top of its low fares. The fee in question, listed on itineraries as a “Passenger Usage Fee,” ranges from $9 to $17 per flight. Lawyers from the Miami firm Podhurst Orseck, who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Miami, say that Spirit has presented the fee as a government-mandated charge when it is actually a profit-generating add-on, and that customers receive no added value or service as a result of paying it. Though listed on Spirit’s schedule of optional fees, there is no apparent way to avoid the charge.
The airline says the fee covers expenses of ticket distribution, such as the cost of maintaining a website so customers can buy tickets online rather than making a trip to the airport. A spokeswoman says the airline intends to fight the case. The law firm believes the fee has raised as much as $40 million for the airline, and that as many as 5 million passengers may be eligible to join the lawsuit.
A similar suit filed in March in Illinois questioned Spirit’s “Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations Fee.” The airline instituted the fee after the U.S. Department of Transportation began requiring carriers to allow customers to alter their travel plans within 24 hours of booking without penalty. huffingtonpost.com