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Spirit Offers Bonus Miles 'the 99% Can Enjoy'

Parodying Delta's recent announcement that, beginning in 2015, more miles would be awarded for more expensive tickets, Spirit unveiled a promotion promising the opposite: more miles for cheaper tickets.

Offer Details

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Through April 15, members of the Free Spirit program will earn bonus miles according to the price of their tickets, as follows:

  • 1,000 bonus miles for one-way tickets costing less than $36
  • 500 bonus miles for one-way tickets costing between $36 and $65
  • 250 bonus miles for one-way tickets costing between $66 and $99

In other words, spend less to earn more. And spend $100 or more and earn no bonus at all. The opposite of the traditional spend-more-earn-more bonus proposition.

Deal or No Deal

This is a giggle-worthy move on Spirit's part. But as Spirit often does, it pushes the conceit too far.

According to Spirit's press release: "We see an increasing trend in other airlines switching to an elitist frequent flier reward system that essentially favors customers who have deeper wallets and can spend more money on their flights. Our FREE SPIRIT program rewards customers based on their loyalty and we firmly believe that the more money we save our customers, the more loyal they will be."

What Spirit calls an "elitist" reward system is simply a program that rewards more loyal customers more than less loyal customers. That's nothing more than smart marketing.

In fact, Free Spirit is such a program: Members normally earn miles according to the distance flown, which is a proxy (a poor one, to be sure) for the price they paid for their tickets.

From a marketing standpoint, the best that can be said of Spirit's latest promotion is that it's a distraction from the program's fundamental weaknesses. The lack of earning partners. Awards limited to Spirit flights. Fees to redeem miles within 180 days of departure. And perhaps most damning of all, miles that expire after just three months unless you hold the program-linked MasterCard and make at least one purchase per month.

In the end, though, a promotion is only as good as the loyalty program it's associated with. In this case, both the promotion and the program are jokes.

Reader Reality Check

Are you a Spirit loyalist? Why?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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