Spirit Airlines to pay up to $8.25 million in class action over ‘gotcha’ carry-on bag fees

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FILE PHOTO: A logo of low cost carrier Spirit Airlines is pictured on an Airbus plane in Colomiers near Toulouse

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Spirit Airlines Inc has agreed to pay up to $8.25 million to settle a class action lawsuit by passengers who said the low-cost carrier blindsided them with surprise carry-on bag fees on tickets bought through third-party travel services.

Lawyers for the passengers disclosed the deal in a motion late Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn and asked a judge to approve it, saying it “represents a fair compromise.”

The class includes first-time Spirit fliers who booked their flights through Expedia, Travelocity, Kiwi, CheapOair, CheapTickets or BookIt between August 2011 and May 2017, when the lawsuit was filed.

Eligible travelers who seek refunds under the deal will get up to 75% of their fees back, though it could be lower depending on the total amount of refunds sought by all class members. The $8.25 million maximum payout will include attorneys’ fees, according to the motion.

Spirit and lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Like other low-cost airlines, Miramar, Florida-based Spirit relies on added fees to help make up for lower base fares.

Plaintiffs in the 2017 lawsuit accused the carrier of advertising misleading low prices on travel websites that concealed the “gotcha” bag fees travelers would have to pay at the airport.

They said these fees were sometimes as much as the tickets themselves. The plaintiffs originally sought $100 million in punitive damages, though that was dropped from a later version of the lawsuit.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Jonathan Oatis)

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