Spirit Airlines Bans TikToker For Sharing Bag Scam

Filed Under: Spirit

It’s not often you hear of something like this — Spirit Airlines has banned a passenger over what he encouraged others to do through social media.

TikToker promotes free carry-on scam

Spirit Airlines is as low cost as airlines in the US get, and the carrier charges extra for just about everything, including carry-ons. Well, TikToker @robkallday posted a TikTok in which he shares a “trick” to getting a free carry-on when flying Spirit Airlines:

  • Your boarding pass lists whether you’re entitled to a carry-on or not (based on whether or not you paid for it)
  • It’s easy enough to edit just about any document (including a boarding pass) using some apps, making it easy to change the carry-on number from zero to one
  • The TikToker insists that he didn’t actually adjust this on his boarding pass, and that his bag fit without this “trick” (of course we don’t know if that’s true or not)
@robkallday

Didn’t actually do this, my bag fits #nobodyneedstoknow #travelhacks #pdfeditor #vegasbaby #iphone11pro #spiritairlines

♬ how would they know bad girls club – Chris Gleason

Now, certainly this is a scam, and it’s not something one should do.

That being said, this advice also isn’t exactly specific to getting a Spirit Airlines carry-on:

  • You could similarly modify a boarding pass from just about any airline to indicate that you should receive priority boarding, etc.
  • Now, keep in mind that while you might be able to get away with it, if an agent looks in the computer system they can still see how things should be, rather than how you’ve modified them

Spirit Airlines banned this guy for two years

In a follow-up video, the TikToker shared a letter that he received from Spirit Airlines, dated just under a week after his flight date. The letter essentially bans him from flying Spirit Airlines, though the airline gives him the opportunity to appeal the decision in two years.

@robkallday

Made it to the no fly list #noflylist #babies #spiritualawakening #spiritairlines

♬ original sound – Rob K

Here’s what the letter says:

As you know, you created a video on the social media platform “TikTok” showing users how to manipulate a Spirit Airlines boarding pass and fraudulently indicate they paid for a carry-on bag to the financial detriment of Spirit Airlines. Additionally, as evidenced in the video’s comments, you have also been advising users specifically on what cell phone application they should download to carry out the scam.

In light of this egregious misconduct, Spirit Airlines has determined that you are no longer permitted to fly with us, and we have placed you on a list for that purpose. You are also barred from entering Spirit’s facilities. If you seek to circumvent this, any ticket that you purchase will be forfeited without a refund. If you come into our facilities, we will report that trespass to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Should you wish to travel on Spirit Airlines again in the future, after the passage of at least two years from the date of this letter, you may request that we revisit the foregoing restrictions. You may do so only by a letter explaining why we should reconsider the restriction and giving unequivocal assurances that you will conduct yourself appropriately in the future. The foregoing is extended solely as a courtesy and not as a right and we may determine not to lift the restrictions in our absolute discretion.

Bottom line

It’s not often that you see someone banned from an airline for something that didn’t even happen onboard, or involve the ticket of a passenger. That being said, I think Spirit is totally justified with this — the airline makes money largely through ancillary fees, and there’s no doubt that people will try to circumvent these fees with the trick presented.

I do think the one general challenge with social media is the fine line between comedy and exposing a scam — what should be taken as humor, and what should be taken at face value?

While I do think the intent of the video was probably to be funny and lighthearted, there’s no denying that this could impact Spirit Airlines’ bottom line.

What do you make of this situation? Was Spirit Airlines in the right for what it did?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments
  1. It is fraud so why not ban him for life. That said though back in the day i used to print my boarding passes on adobe and change the boarding group to ensure id get overhead space, but then again i just did it for me and didnt post it on social media for the attention and likes.

  2. Time to harm spirit airlines for even daring to do this. Next time I see someone who works for spirit airlines, they’d be lucky to walk away unscathed.

  3. Sounds fair. There is a difference between finding good deals and stealing/fraud. Agree or disagree with Spirits business model but what this guy did was wrong.

  4. Amazing the resources Spirit expends going after this kind of stuff, but can’t even keep order and control on its own aircraft…

    Spirit did this guy a favor, now there’s no chance he’ll be assaulted in a #SpiritBrawl

  5. I’m filing legal action against you for not approving my comment and limiting my right to freedom of speech.

  6. What were they thinking before they posted this? “Gee let me post evidence of me committing fraud and hope nothing happens! LOL!”

  7. Getting banned from Spirit sounds like a relief than a punishment. I don’t get to fly shitty Spirit Airlines? Sweet!

  8. Why doesn’t Spirit just go with an electronic BP? I assume part of the answer is the fee it charges for those that would not know how to download an app and check in on an app and therefore would print one at the airport or even have an agent print because they would be lost using a kiosk. And believe they’re out there.

  9. I think this is a bit too much. If he actually tried using that I can understand, but the video definitely sounds like a joke.

  10. John – you have no 1st amendment rights here. It’s a private blog. If you want ti sue Luckythe I can recommend a venue in Pensylvania for you to hold a press conference.

    Also advocating violence really isn’t acceptable.

  11. Pretty sure it’s a felony to alter a boarding pass (if you’re caught, and even if it’s for something relatively benign and self-serving like this), and this is inciting others to commit a crime. By that logic, Mr. Did-It-For-The-Likes got off easy as they easily could’ve sicced the feds on him and potentially got him NFLed, not just banned from *their* airline. If you’re pissed at Spirit for nickel and dime-ing you on everything, don’t fly Spirit (if you have a choice).

  12. Having never flown Spirit for sake of my own sanity, I don’t really know how they operate… but he didn’t alter the bar code. So, Spirit’s system should be showing if he gets a bag or not, why would they look at the ticket itself?

  13. Like them or not, this is how Spirit generates income to offset the low costs of their seats. Surely you understand this if you use this airline. Altering your boarding pass to avoid paying the fee is theft.
    If you don’t like the fees, then I’d recommend finding an alternate means of transportation to your destination.
    Advocating violence towards an airline and their employees (looking at you, John) is about worst thing I’ve read today. And this is 2020, so the bar is set pretty high for that level of achievement.

  14. Ban him or not that’s 100% Spirit’s call the only thing I am appalled at is Spirit not thanking this individual for bringing this loophole to the attention of Corporate.

  15. I think it’s appalling that you casually agree with a company punishing a citizen who has done nothing except publish – entirely legally – a flaw in a ticketing system. Are companies that find zero-day attacks also committing “egregious” offences? What absolute crap. The idiots are Spirit for making a public spat out of it, and the people who go and do it. All this guy has done is a bit of research, and published it online. Not unlike your blog.

  16. I agree with those saying that if you don’t like Spirit, there are other airlines. it’s not like Spirit are hiding their fee-for-everything approach. In fact, they embrace it. I still smile when I remember one of their flight attendants getting creative with the safety briefing – “… in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks and credit card machines will drop from this compartment above your seat. If your credit card is declined, please try to hold your breath until we reach lower altitude… “

  17. This won’t work, people with a carry on are on boarding group 1, is easy to see on the boarding as well in the screen, if you show up on another group the employee will check your boarding group

  18. For you guys thinking “ban” is the correct approache for information sharing.

    Should Google, BING etc. get finned for promoting onemileatatime.com which shows a video with information on how to commit fraud?

    And should Tiktok, Youtubet etc. get finned as well for sharing info?

    That would be a limitless.

    Here is a guide that should get me banned from grocery stores then, when you wheigh your produce remove one before you wheigh it, then add it after the wheigh you save money but you are breaking the law – dr. evil whit pinky in mouth emoji….

    @Preston right on freedom of information.

    @James Saunders theft what has been stolen?

  19. Guess that Spirit will limit print-by-yourself boarding pass uses then, probably now they prefer mobile or print-at-airport boarding passes instead

  20. Maybe Spirit should come up with a way to validate allowed bags beyond looking at easily forgable paper documents?

    They should pay this guy a reward for showing them how easy it would be to circumvent paying for bags.

  21. @Mikey “promoting theft” is not theft. It is not a crime either, and private companies are not supposed to be handing out justice for people simply telling the truth.

  22. To read some of these replies who think that Spirit Airlines is in the wrong just goes to show how entilted these Democrats have come to be. It’s okay to screw someone else out of thier money but don’t you dare do that to me or I’ll threaten you with your life. Democrats think the law only apply to others and feel it their rights to do as they please.

  23. I think Spirit did the right thing. Why should cheater and scam artists force the rest of is to pay their way.
    Obviously in the follow-up, this person was proud to be on the no fly list. A badge of honor for loosers.

  24. So JOhn, you’re seriously threatening to do physical harm to someone while online, while defending someone’s ignorance that was also online? Irony much? Sit down son!

  25. @Preston
    Taking something, or using a good or service you didn’t pay for is theft. In addition altering information on a boarding card isn’t just an airline fraud issue, but it’s also a federal crime. Much like the person who was arrested for going through a TSA checkpoint by photoshopping a homemade boarding pass. While this guy was just trying to get a free bag, homeland security could easily get involved if Spirit reported it.

  26. @Hugh Jacobs
    I am a Democrat and I still can believe in the rule of law and refuse to fly or have any respect for Spirit. They are a bad actors and the public puts a target on the back of such companies. I have seen them screw passengers for showing up with a slightly overweight bag and hitting them up for $100.00 for a carry just because they say they can and the customer has no options at that point. I have seen customers forced to board spirit flights with 3 outfits on their back because their scale did not agree with Spirit’s and many of Spirit’s customers are not wealthy enough to eat a $100.00 rip off. This is Karma! Spirit has no class.

    Oh, I hope the poster wore a mask. That is important at least.

  27. @Ryan “Taking something, or using a good or service you didn’t pay for is theft.”

    You have agreed with my point. He did none of these things. If I write a blog post explaining how you can fold a $1 bill to look like a $100, am I breaking the law? Of course I am not. Heck, half the clickbaity Taboola articles I see are suggesting nonsense like this.

    People making this political are absolutely nuts. Democrat or Repulican, I believe in free speech. People can post stuff to Instagram, and as long as it’s legal, should not be punished by anyone. To agree otherwise is to agree to a mafiosa world where organizations can ‘punish’ people because of what they write.

    Have you not seen the Tripadvisor story last week about the guy who wrote a negative review about a hotel in Thailand? I bet you did not support that!

    Can’t believe I am having to explain this to people, ffs.

  28. Went on Spirit one time and would never go again.. it’s a trash airline and they did nothing but a favor to him… I would send a letter back thanking them…

  29. This doesn’t work regardless. They scan your ticket and the computer says how many bags they paid for. If he changed his ticket to say first class, you think they would fall for it, no.

  30. +1 for Spirit. If Spirit collects a carry-on bag fee, this guy is encouraging others to defraud them, whether he did or not. Makes you wonder if a boarding pass could be altered to include a marking that would enable a passenger to bypass normal security procedures

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