Spirit Airlines unveiled a completely refreshed loyalty program back in January. The airline has spent months working on getting its frequent flier program up and running with new elite tiers and benefits across each tier. Simple Flying had a chance to fly on Spirit Airlines with Gold Status. Here is what the experience was like and why you should consider going for Gold status.
Spirit’s Gold status
Spirit Airlines’ frequent flier program is called “Free Spirit.” The airline bills it as the fastest way to earn rewards and status. Under the program, passengers earn points for every dollar spent, including on fares and ancillary options. Passengers can then use those points to redeem for flights. Along with the new program, the airline has also unveiled a new elite tier system.
The first step up from the basic membership is Silver status, which comes after earning 2,000 status qualifying points (SQPs). Silver members earn basic elite privileges, including priority boarding, same-day standby, complimentary seat-selection at check-in, waived redemption fees, and more.
The most lucrative status under the new program is Gold status. Gold comes at 5,000 SQPs, and these members receive plenty of benefits. Gold status builds upon Silver. Passengers receive priority boarding, same-day standby, waived redemption fees, and all the other benefits Silver members get. The additional lucrative benefits include a free one-time change, first checked and carry-on bag free (with extra weight for the checked bag), complimentary seat selection (including exit row) at booking, and a free inflight beverage and snack.
This leaves very little in the way for ancillary products that a Gold member can purchase, but it comes after they show their loyalty to Spirit in a strong way. Here is what Simple Flying thought about the experience.
The booking experience
Booking a flight at Spirit is simple. Logging into your account and booking automatically assigns to you all the complimentary Gold features while you choose and pay for your flight. Note that Gold status is different from the Spirit Saver$ Club, which includes access to exclusive, discounted fares.
Once you choose your flight, Gold members can continue through to checkout. To get your benefits instantly after booking, make sure you are either logged into your Free Spirit account while booking or else enter your Free Spirit number in the booking engine.
Consistently, the booking engine was clear in indicating what is included for Gold members. Passengers can easily see the free seat options during booking and see the included bags and added extras like flight flexibility and shortcut boarding.
Checking in for the flight
Passengers can check-in for their flight using the mobile app or online at the Spirit website to save some money. At the airport, passengers can go to one of the self-tag systems and tag their bag before dropping it off. Here, passengers can also get a printed boarding pass.
Gold members do not have to pay the overweight checked bag fee for bags that weigh over 40 pounds. During my travels, I encountered no difficulty when it came to checking my bag.
Both the printed and mobile boarding passes show the passenger’s gold status. On mobile devices, the boarding pass shows up as a gold color and states the passenger is a Gold member. Meanwhile, the printed boarding pass explicitly states “GOLD” on it. This makes for easy identification.
Onboard the plane
The exit row provides extra legroom than standard Spirit seats, and if you have Gold status and the exit row is free, there is little reason not to select a seat in one of those rows. Depending on which aircraft you are on, the exit rows are a little different.
The Airbus A321s, in row 11, have seemingly endless legroom. Note that on the A321, seat 11A does not have storage under the seat in front of you as the flight attendant jumpseat is located there. Nevertheless, except for during takeoff and landing when the jumpseat is occupied, the legroom is great.
On the Airbus A320ceo, in rows 12 and 13, the extra legroom is a few more inches compared to standard economy. It is still a better option for more legroom than other economy seats.
Spirit is an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC). As such, it tries to fit in as many seats as possible and minimize the weight of those seats. The bare-bones seat features slimline padding, small tray tables, and does not have standard seatback pouches. Note that, from a storage perspective, there is not a lot where you can place some of your handheld items or a laptop, so your personal item that fits under the seat in front of you will come in handy.
The food and beverage
Onboard Spirit Airlines, everything comes at a cost for non-Gold members. When flight attendants begin their service, they advertise that everything onboard is available for purchase. Spirit, because of the pandemic, has removed menus from its seats, but you can access a menu online or else ask a flight attendant what options are available.
Gold members receive a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage and a snack. The snack options are one of the $3 or $4 snack options and do not include snack boxes or the cheese tray. The total value of this perk comes out to $7, given the non-alcoholic beverages are $3 each, and the maximum complimentary snack option comes at $4.
Since this status is new to Spirit, not all of the flight attendants were up to speed on how to provide this benefit. On my first flight as a Gold member, the flight attendants were adamant that there was no benefit for complimentary inflight snacks for any passengers, regardless of their status.
For the next flight, armed with a pre-downloaded Spirit inflight menu and screenshots from the Spirit website, I expected to run into additional friction. However, on the next two flights, there were some flight attendants aware of the complimentary perk. In one case, a flight attendant had to confirm with another flight attendant onboard that there was a complimentary perk for Gold members before serving me.
Nevertheless, it seems there are some teething problems with flight attendants understanding the perk. If you have Gold status and are worried about this, you can step onboard with the menu pre-downloaded. Another option could be to ask and confirm the benefit with the flight attendants before departure, where you can pull up the website and confirm it with the crew.
Is Gold status worth it?
Gold status is incredibly valuable if you fly Spirit often. The free bags, snack, and seat selection are valuable perks that can save money, making Spirit’s already low-cost travel options an even more attractive proposition.
The status is very new in Spirit’s system, so you might not get the recognition and appreciation from Spirit employees on the ground or in the air that you might otherwise get on a full-service carrier with elite status. However, Spirit has done an excellent job rolling out the status perks online.
Every time I had to interact with a computer, the mobile app and website could easily process my status and provide me the benefits promised under the program. The same is not true for interactions with Spirit employees, but there are ways to minimize your concerns about not receiving the benefits inflight. The most significant friction point was the complimentary inflight snack and beverage, but it is easy to come prepared to alert the crew of the benefit if they are not aware of it. This problem should be resolved as more Spirit crew members interact with elite members.
At the end of the day, Spirit’s Gold status is a gamechanger for the airline’s most loyal passengers. If you fly Spirit often, or else could fly Spirit often, then going for Gold status could be a lucrative option. As Spirit keeps growing both in the US and abroad, the airline is filling in more gaps in its network, meaning more places to redeem your miles and get more value out of the program.
What questions do you still have about Spirit’s Gold status? Ask us here! Do you think you will go for Spirit’s Gold status? Let us know in the comments!