Spirit Airlines' new USD$2 ticket charge to cover the unintended consequences of federal regulations has resulted in a perhaps predictable consequence -- a lawsuit.
An Illinois woman has sued the ultra-low-cost carrier, contending the charge violated state consumer fraud laws by falsely imposing the charge "under the guise of a fee imposed by the government upon the consumer."
The carrier imposed the fee on January 31, and said the fee would cover the costs of a new US Department of Transportation regulation allowing fliers 24 hours after booking a trip to change their plans without penalty.
Ben Baldanza, Spirit's chief executive, at the time said the regulation can lead to more empty seats because it forces carriers to hold seats for customers who may never pay for them. "The consequence is that we must spread costs over fewer customers, thus raising the cost for all passengers," he said.
In the lawsuit filed this week in a Cook County, Illinois state court, the plaintiff Harlene Newman said she booked a round-trip Spirit flight on February 19, and her receipt showed a USD$4 charge covering "Unintended Consequences of DOT Regulations."
Newman said the charge was "nothing more than a profit-generating device," and that the carrier falsely represented that it was a government-mandated fee.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status, compensatory damages and other remedies.
Spirit is known for offering fares as low as USD$9, but charges fees for such extras as an advance seat assignment and bringing a carry-on bag that does not fit beneath a seat aboard the plane. It also packs more seats onto its planes than many rivals, resulting in reduced legroom.