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Free Spirit Flights for a Year – Reward or Punishment?

Spirit’s new “Free Flights for a Year” sweepstakes wears its promise on its sleeve: free flights for a year. That’s an attention-getter, to be sure. But this being Spirit Airlines, the promise is deflated by the reality.

Sweepstakes Highlights

  • The prize is not unlimited flights for a year, as the sweepstakes’ name would suggest. Rather, it’s two roundtrip passes per month, for 12 months.
  • While the prize is promoted as “good for any place Spirit flies,” the prize flights themselves must originate and return to Seattle airport, with both outbound and return legs completed within the same month. Spirit only operates two nonstops from Seattle, to Los Angeles and to Las Vegas. You could in theory cobble together connecting flights to reach other Spirit destinations, but the airline’s mostly point-to-point route network doesn’t make that easy or convenient.
  • Unlike most sweepstakes in which a winner is chosen outright, Spirit will choose five potential winners, all of whom must appear at Seattle airport on March 24, at 6 p.m. The winner will then be chosen at random from the five contenders.
  • “Charges, including for additional or excess weight baggage, and other optional services will apply and are not covered by these sweepstakes.”
  • The prize flights are offered on a space-available basis.
  • And if you can find an empty seat on a flight from Seattle to somewhere worth visiting, you’ll be crammed into one of the industry’s least spacious seats, with 28 inches of pitch (versus 32 or 33 inches on most Southwest flights).

Note that participating in the sweepstakes automatically opts you in to receiving marketing emails from Spirit.

This is the first high-profile marketing initiative since Spirit appointed a new CEO, Robert Fornaro, who quickly vowed to improve the airline’s worst-in-the-industry customer-satisfaction ratings. The “Free Flights for a Year” sweepstakes is an inauspicious start.

Reader Reality Check


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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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