In the aftermath of Spirit’s six-day strike that ended on Friday, June 18, the airline launched a two-pronged effort to make amends with travelers disaffected by the flight cancellations, and by Spirit’s handling of the disruptions.
Ripped from Spirit’s own press release:
To thank its customers for their support and loyalty, Spirit is offering customers a coupon for $50 off their next flight and 5,000 FREE SPIRIT bonus miles. Spirit is offering customers a coupon to save $50 off their next round-trip purchase for travel from June 18, 2010 through November 17, 2010. Customers can visit http://www.spiritair.com/50off to accept their coupon and book their reservation by 11:59 PM ET on June 18, 2010, and http://www.spiritair.com/5kmiles for their 5,000 FREE SPIRIT bonus miles.
That $50 discount coupon is long gone. It was only on offer for 36 hours or so, guaranteeing minimal take-up.
From the announcement’s wording, you might think that the 5,000 bonus miles had disappeared at the same time. They didn’t. If you follow the link to the bonus landing page, you’ll find that the miles may be claimed any time before June 30.
You’ll also find this: “Miles will be posted to your FREE SPIRIT account within 45 days of registration.” I have been involved with airline mileage programs in one capacity or another since their inception, in 1981, and I have never seen an airline require 45 days to credit its own miles.
But they’re free, right?
Deal or No Deal
It’s hard to argue that 5,000 frequent flyer miles are anything other than a good deal. They are free, after all. But remember: These are Spirit miles.
Unless you also have a Spirit credit card—in which case off-peak awards are available for 5,000 miles—you’ll have to augment the proffered bonus miles by flying Spirit to reach an award threshold. Is that a likely scenario? Is it a desirable one?
Spirit is the airline that advertises eye-popping low prices, and then adds on surcharges for anything and everything that can be priced separately.
And, as just one example of such fee-dinging, Free Spirit is the only airline program I’m aware of that charges a fee ($15) for award tickets requested between 21 days and 179 days prior to departure. Other carriers only charge so-called close-in booking fees for tickets issued within 21 days of departure, and both Delta and United have stopped charging such fees altogether, implicitly acknowledging that they’re neither fair nor reasonable.
So the caveat here is a familiar one: You get what you pay for.
Reader Reality Check
What’s a Spirit mile worth to you?
And more generally, what has your experience with the company been?