Action 9 investigates complaints about Spirit Airlines fees

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Customers who picked Spirit Airlines for cheap fares claim they were hit with fees they never expected.

It happened to an Orlando woman who claims the company wouldn't respond to her complaints.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich found hundreds of consumers telling similar stories, so he went to the airline for answers.

Spirit Airlines advertises the cheapest fares.

Maria Ray thought she could save big on flights to Dallas --- it didn't turn out that way.

"Incredible, because they should not charge me for what I did not order," said Ray.

According to Ray, the airline charged her for a premium seat she didn't ask for. And then she said it demanded another $50 for baggage fees she had already paid.

"It's amazing how people can manipulate you the way they do," said Ray.

Spirit is based in south Florida where the Better Business Bureau is handling hundreds of complaints.

Many of those complaints are about controversial fees, some of the highest of any airline. One example is a $100 charge for a carry-on at the gate.

At Orlando International Airport one family expected a $25 bag fee but then claimed the airline demanded $50 because its weight restrictions are so low.

"How did you feel about that extra fee?" Ulrich asked the family.

"Well, we weren't paying it," said a family member.

The BBB also found that many consumers were denied boarding and refunds.

Consumer watchdogs said there is a serious pattern of complaints.

"There's no question, many customers feel they've been baited and switched on Spirit," said George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com.

Hobica said he feels Spirit's fees can hit many by surprise, although they still can save a lot of money.

He said he feels the biggest problem is its customer service.

"I don't think complaints to Spirit will have much effect. Their CEO is famous for not caring about what customers think," said Hobica.

Spirit Airlines told Action 9 that its website fully discloses all fees. They said that refunds are reviewed case by case and the company is and it's working with the BBB to resolve any problems.

The company said it is reviewing Ray's complaint.

Two other consumers who complained to Action 9 about extra fees did receive full refunds after Ulrich contacted the airline.