Understanding Spirit Airlines' Carry-On Size Restrictions and Baggage Policies

Spirit Airlines offers some of the strictest carry-on and checked baggage allowance policies. As a budget airline, they aim to keep costs low for passengers by charging additional fees for bags.

To start, let's do a quick rundown of Spirit's baggage basics. Spirit is a low-cost U.S. carrier that allows one small personal item for free. Anything larger must be paid for. Carry-on bags, including handles and wheels, can only measure 22 x 18 x 10 inches. Checked bags have a 40 lb weight limit before overweight fees apply.

Now, let's explore Spirit carry-on size and checked baggage specifics in more detail.

An Overview of Spirit Airlines' Carry-On and Checked Bag Policies

Spirit offers an inexpensive "bare fare" with no included carry-on or checked bags. They allow each passenger to carry only one personal item, which must be at most 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm). Anything beyond this small personal item will cost you extra fees.

Spirit carry-on size | CabinZero

This is the maximum Spirit carry-on size. Photo by Brice Cooper on Unsplash

Carry-on bags are limited to a maximum size of 22 x 18 x 10 inches  (56 x 46 x 25 cm), covering both handles and wheels. This is average than standard carry-on limits on other airlines.

The checked bags must not exceed a maximum linear dimension of 62 inches (or 158 cm, calculated by adding the length, width, and height together). Additionally, the weight limit for checked bags is 40 lbs before incurring overweight fees. 

Note: Bags over 80 linear inches (203 cm) or 100 pounds (45 kg) will be denied entry, even if you are willing to pay.

Spirit Airlines' Rules and Fees for Carry-On Bags

Spirit Airlines enforces some of the industry's strictest carry-on bag size limits. Here are the specifics of Spirit's carry-on policies:

What is the Size Limit for a Carry-on?

  • The maximum size for a carry-on bag on Spirit Airlines is 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm), including wheels and handles.
  • The restriction for the personal item is 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) (handles and wheels included).

Even bags marketed as "carry-on size" that are slightly over these dimensions won't make the cut as a carry-on with Spirit. They will be gate-checked for a fee if they cannot fit in the sizer.

How much should a carry-on weight be on Spirit Airlines?

Along with size restrictions, Spirit Airlines' carry-on weight limit is 40 lbs (18 kg). Any bags exceeding this weight at the gate will be checked for a fee. This is a pretty generous weight standard, in our opinion.

In case you have yet to find a good carry-on complying with Spirit carry-on size, we have you covered. The CabinZero 28L Classic Backpack is 21.5 x 13 x 7.5 inches and made with durable materials and features, including polyester, Duraflex Hardware, and YKK Zippers. Therefore, you can definitely rest assured about the durability and handiness of the bag.

Spirit carry-on size | CabinZero

The backpack is versatile and practical for every trip. 

What Happens if My Carry-On Is Too Big for Spirit Airlines?

If your carry-on bag exceeds Spirit's published size restrictions, it will need to be checked at the gate before boarding the plane. You will have to pay the applicable carry-on bag fee at the airport rate (up to $150 per violation). Remember, the fees can add up and end up being more expensive than pre-paying for carry-on bags during booking.

To avoid this headache, always measure your carry-on and confirm it follows Spirit's stated size limits before heading to the airport. Doing a trial pack at home and weighing your carry-on bag can also help prevent size-related issues.

Spirit Airlines' Rules for Checked Baggage

Along with carry-on limits, understanding Spirit's policies for checked baggage is also important. Here are the key details on checking bags with Spirit Airlines:

Does Spirit Airlines Allow 1 Free Checked Bags?

Actually, Spirit Airlines only permits free checked bags for passengers if they have their Gold status. Plus, active-duty U.S. military members get two free checked bags, a carry-on, and a personal item.

How Much Does Spirit Airlines Charge for Checked Bags?

Spirit employs variable pricing for checked baggage fees based on the route, travel dates, and when you pay. Typical checked bag rates range from:

  • 1st checked bag: $58 - $99
  • 2nd checked bag: $73 - $99
  • 3rd - 5th check bags: $98+

Paying for checked bags online in advance means the lowest prices. Airport bag drop fees are the most expensive.

What is Spirit Airlines' Checked Bag Weight Limit?

Spirit enforces a 40 lb (18 kg) weight limit for checked suitcases before excess overweight bag fees come into play. 

  • 41-50 lbs (18-22 kg): +$80 Overweight Fee
  • 51-70 lbs (23-31 kg): +$100 Overweight Fee
  • 71-100 lbs (32-45 kg): +$150 Overweight Fee

Checked bags exceeding 100 lbs (45 kg) are not accepted for transport by Spirit. Their lower weight threshold can catch travellers off guard, so packing wisely is key.

Spirit carry-on size | CabinZero

Pay attention to Spirit’s checked bag weight rules. Photo by ID_Anuphon - stock.adobe.com

Can I Avoid Checked Bag Fees on Spirit Airlines?

To avoid checked bag fees on Spirit Airlines, consider these options:

  • Only bring a small personal item included in your ticket price
  • Qualify for free checked bags through Spirit Gold status
  • Use a credit card that reimburses for checked bag fees
  • Carefully pack to avoid overweight bag fees.

Booking and Check-In Process With Spirit Airlines

None of us prefer complicated procedures. Luckily, you have various options to book and check in with Spirit Airlines, either online or offline. Each choice offers simple steps to do.

Where to buy tickets

You've got options when it comes to buying Spirit tickets! Besides the traditional option of going to the airport counter, you can book directly on their website or app. You don’t want to miss its impressive feature, Flight Deal Finder, for available best prices. 

Cabinzero’s tips: You can also make use of some reliable flight apps like Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity to compare prices.

Check-in process

Getting checked in is a breeze with the different options they offer. You can start the check-in process online 24 hours before departure through the Spirit website or mobile app. 

Spirit carry-on size | CabinZero

You can simply visit the website and click the “Checkin” button. Photo via spirit.com

This self-service option is totally free and allows you to take care of everything ahead of time - reserve your seat, add bags, and print your boarding pass. All you need to check in online is your name and confirmation number.

If online check-in isn't possible, no worries. Once you arrive at the airport, simply use the self-service kiosks. These touchscreen machines are super easy to use. Follow the instructions to check in and print your boarding pass. Friendly Spirit staff are close by if you need a hand.

You always have the option to check in the old-fashioned way - at the ticket counter. Be sure to allow time for this - arrive 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours for international. 

For all domestic flights, baggage must be checked at the ticket counter no later than 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. For international flights, including U.S. Virgin Islands flights, the check-in deadline is 60 minutes prior to departure.


1. Is Spirit Strict About Carry-On Size?

Yes! Spirit Airlines is very strict regarding carry-on bag sizes. Any carry-on exceeding their stated dimensions must be checked at the gate for an additional fee. So, if your friends or fellow travellers ask: “What if my carry-on luggage is 1 inch too big?, or “What if my carry-on is 2cm too big?”, the same rule applies.

2. Does Spirit allow a carry-on and a personal item?

Certainly! Spirit Airlines permits each passenger to bring one carry-on and one personal item. The free personal item, such as a purse, small backpack, or laptop bag, must be at most 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm), including handles and wheels. Additionally, passengers can bring one carry-on item, which must not exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches (56 x 46 x 25 cm), including handles and wheels.

3. Can I Take a Backpack on Spirit?

Yes, you can carry a backpack on Spirit as your free personal item as long as it meets the size limits of 18 x 14 x 8 inches or smaller. Mini backpacks and laptop bags qualify as personal items. If oversized, the backpack would need to be checked (with additional fees).

4. Does a Backpack Count as a Carry-On Bag with Spirit Airlines?

No, a backpack only counts as a carry-on with Spirit if it adheres to their carry-on dimensions of 22 x 18 x 10 inches or less. Oversized backpacks need to meet the carry-on requirements and incur carry-on baggage fees.

5. Can I Bring Two Backpacks and a Carry-On on a Plane?

You are only permitted one standard carry-on bag plus one personal item on Spirit. If both backpacks meet the personal item size limits of 18 x 14 x 8 inches, you can bring them as personal items along with a carry-on. But oversized items need to be checked.

6. What Happens if My Personal Item Is Too Big?

If your personal item exceeds Spirit's size limits of 18 x 14 x 8 inches, you'll have to gate-check it for the applicable checked bag fee based on route and timing. The most economical option is to pay the fee online in advance.

7. Are There Any Exceptions to Spirit's Carry-On Size Limits?

The only exceptions to the maximum carry-on dimensions of 22 x 18 x 10 inches are certain assistive medical devices and some musical instruments, which can be carried on if they fit safely onboard. All other oversized bags must be checked.

8. What Liquids Can I Pack in My Spirit Airlines Carry-On?

Spirit carry-on liquids follow TSA guidelines that permit 3.4 oz or less to be carried on in one quart-sized bag. These will need to be screened separately during security checks. Any beverages purchased after clearing security can also be brought onboard.

In Summary

To summarise, here are the key things travellers should remember about Spirit's baggage rules and restrictions:

  • Spirit carry-on size limits are 22 x 18 x 10 inches. Oversize carry-ons will be gate-checked for a fee.
  • Checked bags can be at most 40 lbs before incurring overweight baggage fees. 
  • Spirit allows one personal item up to 18 x 14 x 8 inches for free. Everything else - from backpacks to carry-ons - must be paid for.
  • If prepaid online, checked bag fees on Spirit typically range from $30 - $60. Prices increase if you pay for bags at the airport.
  • Carefully adhere to all size and weight limits to avoid incurring expensive gate check fees. Packing light is key.

Now, you can adequately prepare for your trip and budget for baggage costs accordingly. Knowing what to expect takes the stress out of flying on this low-cost carrier.

You should never forget the pro tip: pack strategically, weigh your bags at home, and double-check all size dimensions before heading to the airport. 

Finally, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below to share your experiences. Or, let us know if the article is helpful by sharing it!

Ha Ngan

1 comment

  • Jennifer Rodriguez

    First time flying with Spirit and this information was extremely important and helpful.

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