That’s The Spirit

Spirit is our go to airline for weekend get-a-ways. They’re the low cost carrier to the Americas, after all. As budget airlines go, they are the most proud of their “bare fares”. Spirit is down right excited to share their lack of leg room, to charge you for choosing your seats, to charge you for water, and they will even require you to print your boarding pass at home.

They set the precedent for charging you to carry on a bag. That is what gets most first time flyers upset.

Purchasing a ticket requires you to pay attention to all the small hyperlinks below the huge buttons. The whole site is strategically geared to make the choice that will cost you money appear to be the default. Resist the urge, let them randomly place you in the center separated from your spouse, don’t check any bags, and you’ll get a cheap fare.

However, if you think that roller bag that you typically throw in the overhead on a Delta or American flight is supposed to be your free bag, you’re in for a rude awakening. You see, their maximum FREE carryon size is 16″ x 14″ x 12″. Fail to pay up front and you’ll be $100 poorer if you can’t leave the bag behind. And if you’re flying a return trip, rinse and repeat.

Spirit's Posted Bag FeesThus began the quest for the perfect Spirit bag. Everything exceeds that darn 16″ size. Eventually Bella found this at Walmart.

Spirit Bag PerfectionIt’s perfect. It’s cheap, has wheels, and best of all, the posted dimensions are 15″ x 14″ x 8.5″. Only one problem. If the gate agent asks you to prove it with the metal size checker, you’ll have a decision to make. You see, the 14″ dimension is really the inside of the bag. It won’t fit.

The inside may be 14″ but the plastic edge protectors by the wheels push the overall dimension closer to 14.5″.  $100 is a lot to spend for a half inch. “Put it in upside down” you say? That just leaves the last 4″ sticking out of the size checker frame, making a 15″ bag look like its 20″.

All to protect the piping from scrapes.Not to be deterred, I found a solution. Just make it narrower!

Cut the excess offThe finished product is now 14.125″ wide. I can make that fit. Of course, the piping will wear out faster without the lip to protect it, but I can live with that. Bella discovered the piping is rubber coated metal anyway, so it may look bad, but it’s worth it to fly a Bare Fare!

Finished modificationsI’ll stop by the airport and give it a go one day. Photos to follow.



Bella tested her modified bag on a trip last week. Here’s the proof:

Spirit Bag Proof


I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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