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Spirit Airlines must sue for "gotcha" carrying case, judge says



NEW YORK – A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit from Spirit Airlines passengers who said the low-cost carrier blindsided them by imposing unexpected carrier bag fees on tickets purchased through Cheapoair, Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity.

The second American appellate court in Manhattan said that 22 passengers could sue for breach of contract because there were no indications that Spirit immediately gave notice of the fees and that there were "ambiguities" in the prices they would pay.

Spirit and its attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Compared to many transporters, Spirit is dependent on additional fees to offset the financial operation from lower base prices.

Plaintiffs accused Miramar, a Florida-based carrier, of knowing that its online travel agents were hiding the "gotcha" bag fees they had to pay at the airport.

They said that these fees often exceeded the cost of their tickets, amounting to millions of dollars a year.

Spirit countered that federal law prevented the lawsuit, and that its "transportation agreement" specifically provided that a passenger could take a carry bag into the cabin, for a fee.

The Appeals Court returned the case to United States District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, who had dismissed it in November last year.

"This is a great victory for air travelers across the country," plaintiffs' attorney John Hermina said in an interview. He said his clients will pursue their case in the district court.

On Tuesday, Spirit announced customs fees for an Oct. 1

flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from New York's LaGuardia Airport, between $ 28, if booked on the site, to $ 65, if paid at the gate. Basic prices ranged from $ 26 to $ 121.99.

The case is Cox et al v Spirit Airlines Inc, 2nd U.S.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 18-3484.


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