Spirit Air Launches a Frequent Flyer Program

As expecting since B. Ben Baldanza left USAirways as VP of Marketing to become President and COO in January 2005, Spirit Air has launched a frequent flyer program called Free Spirit.

Details of the program include 5 (!) status levels and a co-branded Mastercard.

All points earned in the program, from flying or partner activity (so far the credit card is the only partner) count towards status. It’s somewhat unclear what status gets you outside of bonus miles, the ability to nominate a member for status (once you reach VIP) and the ability to have a plane named for you (if you’re their top points-accumulating customer for the year).

Discount coach only earns 50% of miles flown unless you have status, and there’s a screwy mileage expiration policy.

    FREE SPIRIT miles older than 6 months will expire when less than 2,000 miles have been credited to your account from any source during the preceding 6 month period. Unless you have the FREE SPIRIT MasterCard® and make just one purchase per month, then your miles never expire.

Fortunately, there’s a helpful (?) chart:

    In the example above, at the close of the January statement this account earned 950 miles in the preceding 6 month period (August through January).  This does not meet the minimum 2000 miles required.  The 2260 miles earned in July, and any other miles older than 6 months old are now eligible to expire. 

Their award chart, with 144 different combinations, is about as imposing as American’s oneworld and partner charts combined.

The program offers

    award travel available on every flight, without blackout dates.”
This could be innovative if they literally offer awards without capacity controls — availability for any seat on any flight. That remains to be seen. But having two different award levels for 21 day advance booking and higher point requirements for bookings closer to departure suggests that this might be possible.

I’m not ready to jump in head first yet, but with the innovation that all miles in the program (especially miles earned via their co-branded credit card) count towards status I could rack up some serious perks… should they decide to offer serious perks, that is.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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