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Apr 01

Spirit Airlines Adding Yet Another Fee…And Wait until You See What It Is

It’s finally happened: This morning, Spirit Airlines announced its Lavatory Usage Charge, or LUC. Per their press release, the airline will begin charging passengers $2 to use the lav for 90 seconds, or $3 for unlimited usage. A $5 unlimited VIP pass, allowing you to jump to the front of the line, is also in the works. Payments will only be accepted by credit card.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

And it’s going to get worse. The airline also announced that it would be removing the rear lavatories to add an extra row of seats. Not only will that row generate more revenue for the company but it will actually lower costs (Costs on an airline are measured in terms of cost per seat, so if the total number of seats goes up, the output goes down.). The airline is considering adjusting the charge for the lav up or down, based on supply and demand.

Needless to say, fees from the lavatories will also generate cash for the airline, which gets almost 50% of its revenue from ancillary (non-ticket) sales. The executive that I spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, indicated that they are considering a charge for toilet paper and soap. When I asked him about cleanliness issues related to passengers who didn’t want to pay for soap, he told me, “Screw it. Those passengers know how dirty this plane is. No way they don’t fork over a buck to wash their hands. They don’t want Norovirus, either.” He also had no concerns about gender discrimination, as it pertains to toilet paper sales. “We’re not forcing anyone to buy it,” he said, “and the price will be the same for women and men. No discrimination there.”

From a passenger perspective, this change is clearly a negative, as it will make your flights that much more expensive. I wouldn’t expect any coincident drop in the ticket price, either. Like a business trip, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

I’ve touched base with several of the other airlines, but none had any comment on whether they would follow Spirit’s move. Until they do, Spirit will be #1 in charging for #2.

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