Sunday Fun: Vice President in Charge of Soiled Clothes

I was reading the Wall Street Journal Friday and ran across this article about airlines' hidden fees and found this little gem about Spirit Airlines when they lose your luggage. When they lose your bag, they require you to ship the temporary clothes you purchased!

"It's nickel and diming," said Joel Christian, an Austin, Texas, traveler who had to send in two bathing suits, one woman's beach coverup, one dress and a pair of sandals he and his wife bought after the airline left their baggage behind on a flight to the Caribbean. To get his $531.75 refund, he paid the shipping cost of about $20.
"I didn't lose the luggage and yet I have to pay out of my pocket to ship the clothes to them?" Mr. Christian said.
The turn-in-the-clothes requirement, Mr. Christian believes, is simply meant to discourage customers from seeking reimbursement. Many people might simply want to keep the clothing they bought and avoid the hassle and shipping costs.
Spirit says it pays for "interim expenses" when bags are delayed such as clothes and toiletries, but it doesn't consider shipping costs an interim expense. The airline says it makes some donations of returned clothes to local community groups in Florida, where it is based, and sells some to a company that buys in bulk. The airline declined to answer other questions about the policy and various fees.
The airline knows it lost the bag, so they know these people need clothes. I've never flown Spirit and Spirit doesn't fly to Wichita (no loss, as far as I can tell) so I have no first-hand knowledge but how would you like to be in charge of receiving the passengers' dirty clothes?!

Four years ago this month, this blog ran a 7-part series as to why the airlines needed to be re-regulated. The rationale has only gotten stronger in the succeeding years.


  1. With all due respect, Mr. Smith , you (and Wichita) are regulating Spirit Airlines by not patronizing the "nickel and diming" outfit. And even more so, by publicizing their "misdeeds". Looks like the market is working hard to root out the "losers" (of bags).

  2. Mike, I have to agree with Richard.

    Also, deregulation was a good thing:

    "the average total fare of $365.23 in 2011 was more than 40% below the 1980 airfare peak of $611.76"

    I was in the Bahamas yesterday. Back in Austin today, thanks in-part to deregulation and mostly to Southwest Airlines.


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