There’s a loophole. There’s actually a loophole.
Map Happy reader 5topAmnesty alerted us awhile ago to the fact that the airlines that charge carry-on fees—this would be Spirit and Frontier—still allow one personal item for free. The only thing is that it’s got to fit under the seat in front. See if you can beat the airlines at their own game and pack as little as you can.
Spirit clearly states their policy here:
One personal item is included with a Bare Fare. This is something like a small backpack or purse that fits entirely in the smaller sizer box (16”x14”x12”). You need to pay for any additional/larger bags. All prices are per bag, each way. Buy bags early and online for the best price.
Frontier also goes on to say:
All passengers are allowed one free personal item that will fit under the seat in front of you. It can be no larger than 14” tall, 8” wide, and 18” long (including handles, wheels, and straps). Think backpacks, purses, briefcases and computer bags… Coats, diaper bags, canes, crutches, Portable Oxygen Concentrators, diaper bags, respiratory devices or any other assistive devices, reasonable amount of reading material (as in, not a complete Encyclopedia collection), and foot rugs for use during prayer are all free to carry on in addition to your one personal item.
Those are the magical sizes, people. New challenge: To now find an entire complete Encyclopedia collection. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one.