Spirit Airlines Unveils Revamped Loyalty Program

Spirit Airlines is completely revamping its loyalty program. A refreshed Free Spirit will debut on January 21st, with a near nose to tail refresh aimed at everything from leisure travelers to small business owners with new ways to earn miles and, brand new to Spirit, elite status.

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Spirit Airlines has announced a revamped frequent flier program. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

The brand new Free Spirit

Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier that operates on an ancillary model. Passengers get their basic fare but can choose what they want to add to their tickets, such as seats, bags, and others. With the new Free Spirit, members will earn a minimum of six points for every dollar spent on fares, and at least 12 points for every dollar spent on Á La Smarte Options such as seats and bags.

The rewards points rack up, and passengers can redeem them for flights. Operating on a dynamic price scheme, this means that, when Spirit has its low fare sales, passengers can find reward redemptions starting at as little as 2,500 points.

The best part about the rewards is that there are no blackout dates, and availability is widespread. If a seat is available for sale for dollars, customers can purchase it using points. Flights booked on points at least 90 days out from travel will have lower redemption fees, plus there are lower redemption fees for members booking closer to the time of travel.

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Every seat on every flight available for sale in cash will be open to be redeemed using miles. Photo: Getty Images

For customers who have at least 1,000 points, Spirit Airlines is offering a fixed points plus cash booking option. This will launch in the first quarter of 2021.

Previously, Spirit Airlines had a relatively short window where miles would expire. Now, points will expire after twelve months of no earning or burning transactions. Spirit Airlines credit card holders will not see their points expire so long as their account is open.

Points pooling

One of the newest features of the new Free Spirit program is points pooling. Eligible members can combine Free Spirit points with up to eight friends and family members to earn a reward flight faster. Eligible members include those holding status with the new loyalty program.

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Points pooling will allow, say, a family of four to combine their miles and earn up for future redemption. Photo: Getty Images

New status tiers

New to Spirit Airlines are two status tiers with plenty of perks. Every dollar spent on fares and ancillary options will earn a passenger Status Qualifying Points (SQPs). In addition, for Free Spirit credit card holders, every $10 in purchases nets them one SQP. The two tiers are called Silver and Gold.

Passengers will earn silver status at 2,000 SQPs, which is equivalent to $2,000 in spend on Spirit Airlines, or $20,000 in spend on eligible Free Spirit Credit Cards, or a combination of the two. Silver status comes with the following perks:

  • Earning rate of eight points per dollar spent on fares and 16 points per dollar spent on ancillary options
  • Free shortcut security (where available)
  • Shortcut boarding (Zone 2)
  • Free same-day standby
  • Free general seat selection 24 hours before departure (exit row availability opens up three hours before departure)
  • Dedicated phone line
  • Ability to create a Points Pool
  • No reward redemption fees
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Gold is the highest tier of status and comes with plenty of perks. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

To reach gold status, a passenger has to net 5,000 SQPs, which is equivalent to $5,000 in spend on Spirit flights or $50,000 spent on eligible Free Spirit credit cards, or a combination. The following perks will be bestowed on gold members, in addition to the silver benefits:

  • Earn 10 points for every dollar spent on fares and 20 points for every dollar spent on Á La Smarte options
  • Free carry-on bag
  • First checked bag free
  • Priority boarding (Zone 1)
  • Free standard seat selection at the time of booking (including exit rows)
  • One-time change with no fee if changed prior to 24 hours before departure
  • Free inflight beverage and snack

Enhanced credit card benefits

On all credit cards, members’ points will not expire, so long as their account remains open and spend on the card for Spirit purchases will earn extra points. The points pooling feature mentioned earlier, reserved for elite members in the Free Spirit program, is extended to credit cardholders. In addition, all holders will get a 25% rebate on all inflight food and drink purchases, while credit card holders themselves will always get Zone 2 shortcut boarding.

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Credit card spend on a Spirit Airlines co-branded credit card will also help a passenger reach elite status. Photo: Getty Images

Eligible new cards will earn SQPs for every $10 spent on purchases. In addition, there are no redemption fees for qualifying Free Spirit credit cardholders with fee waivers on every flight, every time. However, one of the greatest perks is the companion voucher, where qualifying Free Spirit credit cardholders will earn one voucher good for up to $100 off a companion’s flight.

More information on the new credit cards, including new looks, names, offers, and benefits, will be available closer to the January 21st launch.

Rebranding the $9 Fare Club

Spirit’s famous $9 Fare Club is getting a rebranding as the Spirit Saver$ Club. The Saver$ Club will offer passengers discounted seats, other ancillary options, and the existing discounted fares and bags. This is subscription-based and complements the Free Spirit program, which members can join for free.

The Saver$ Club will include access to exclusive fares for themselves and up to eight companions booked on the same reservations. Checked and carry-on bags are up to 50% off for members and eight additional compassion on the same reservation.

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The old $9 Fare Club is now the Saver$ Club and comes with more perks. Photo: Getty Images

What is new are lower seat selection fees, including the Big Front Seat and exit rows. Ancillary options like Shortcut Security, Shortcut Boarding, and Flight Flex are also discounted for members.

Moreover, the membership will also offer offers and discounts on Spirit’s partners, including car rentals and wine club members.

All of this comes as Spirit will be offering 18- and 24-month membership options with the Saver$ Club.

Why Spirit Airlines is revamping its loyalty program

Simple Flying got a chance to speak with several executives on the new Free Spirit program. This includes Matt Klein, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Rana Ghosh, Vice President of Omnichannel, and Sid Krishna, head of Loyalty and Co-Brand at Spirit Airlines.

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Spirit Airlines has a real chance at getting fliers who might not have booked with them in the past to start giving the airline a closer look. Photo: Getty Images

For all three of these executives, the new loyalty program was all about building a greater relationship between the customer and the airline. The executives believe that the program caters to leisure-focused and value-conscious fliers, but also to the infrequent Spirit fliers who can accrue value over time.

At the current point in the aviation industry, engagement is key. As a low-cost airline targeting leisure customers, Spirit Airlines has a unique position in the market as it can appeal to a larger percentage of the current traveling population. The important part now is to get those new customers, and even existing customers, to put Spirit closer to the top of their list, if not the top, when it comes time to book a new flight.

Almost no loyalty program in the world has remained constant since introduced. This revamping is a complete change from “nose to tail.” Spirit’s team will definitely learn from how the program plays out and tweak the program as necessary. But, for now, the airline is on track to offer its most substantive elite program ever.

Are you going to take part in the new Free Spirit loyalty program? What do you make of these changes? Let us know in the comments!