US budget airline Spirit Airlines has announced plans to begin charging passengers up to $US100 ($A97.50) per person to carry hand luggage on board its aircraft.
While all Spirit Airlines passengers who take hand luggage on board a flight face a charge to do so, the $100 fee applies to those who opt to pay at the departure gate. It will be effective from November 6 and will replace an existing $US45 charge.
Those who choose to pay for hand luggage at the check-in desk will be charged $US50, up from $US40, while those who pay online will be charged $A35, up from $A30.
The policy of charging for hand luggage is gaining momentum as airlines seek to offset rising fuel costs and maintain their profits.
Allegiant Air, another North American carrier, charges passengers up to $US35 to take their bags into the cabin, while Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost airline recently began trialling a charge on its service between Luton and Katowice, Poland. Passengers on the route carrying hand luggage larger than 42cm x 32cm x 25cm must pay €10 ($A12.60).
A spokesman for Spirit Airlines said he hopes no-one is forced to pay the $US100 fee.
"Spirit offers customers multiple opportunities to avoid this unnecessary fee and save money," he said. "By planning ahead and paying for bags before getting to the boarding gate, our customers are saving time at the airport and speeding up the boarding process. When our customers choose these time-saving, self-service options, our costs go down, and we can pass those savings along to our customers."
Extra fees account for approximately 40 per cent of Spirit Airline's revenue. Its other charges include a $100 fee for carrying a surf board, a $US10 booking fee, and a $US5 boarding card reissue fee.
The Telegraph, London