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Spirit Airlines: Nobody Understands Us

SmarterTravel

Spirit, by most accounts the country’s reviled airline, has launched another P.R. offensive designed to warm the cockles of the hearts of the legions of travelers who find the carrier’s business practices nasty and deceptive.

Last year, after years of thumbing its nose at the relentless outpouring of customer bile, Spirit rolled out its “State of the Hate” initiative, offering 8,000 Free Spirit miles to everyone who tweeted their pet airline peeve.

The underlying premise of the campaign was that Spirit wasn’t so much an agent of evil as it was a victim of misunderstanding. And to understand the airline’s business practices would lead if not to love then at least to acceptance and appreciation.

The entire undertaking was built on the flimsiest of foundations, however. Those 8,000 frequent flyer miles necessarily focused attention on the airline’s Free Spirit program, arguably the industry’s least rewarding.

The new initiative, dubbed the “Bare Fare Questionnaire,” is similarly compromised.

In exchange for watching three videos that extol the virtues of Spirit’s pricing model and then correctly answering related questions, Free Spirit members can earn up to 1,500 miles.

Once again, the idea is that if travelers just understood the trade-off — low fares for tight seating, bare-bones service, extra fees everywhere — they would become believers instead of bashers. And once again, the message is undermined by the incentive. How many people are willing to invest their time to earn miles in such an unrewarding rewards program?

Of course, Free Spirit isn’t the only problem with Spirit. It’s just the first in a long line of consumer-unfriendly features the airline hopes to deflect attention from with humor and sass. Which might suggest an alternative title for Spirit’s latest production: “Lipstick on a Pig.”

Reader Reality Check

How much are 1,500 Free Spirit miles worth to you?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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