Yes, I know. I’ve already spent more bandwidth than I should, defending this despicable airline. 🙂 What can I say? I love to find deals when other people say meh. I don’t care what it is, Spirit or Delta, as long as I’m convinced that there is a deal to be had.
Spirit Air used to have a co-branded business card, but not for the last few years. Now Spirit has relaunched a business credit card (issued by Bank of America) with the same 15,000 miles sign up bonus, but much better terms. Back in a day, Spirit wouldn’t waive an annual fee for a business card for the first year. This time around, it will waive the 1st year $59 annual fee for the company (but will not waive the $20 fee for the card), so the way I read it, you will still have to pay $20 for the first year. I will gladly exchange $20 for 15,000 Spirit miles.
There are so many ways to get free Spirit miles that your main consideration should be where you live. The fewer connection you need to make—the better chances are you will make out like a bandit. Spirit miles are great on direct flights, not unlike Avios.
However, even if when there are not many non-stop destinations from your hub, but Spirit flies where you want to go, that needs to be considered too, of course.
Where I live, Spirit flies from LGA to Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Charlotte…
That’s only 5 flights, but one of them is the largest Spirit hub: Fort Lauderdale, which opens up the world of the possibilities.
Of course, it’s not all peachy. Availability might be abysmal where you might want to go. The solution is to be flexible or fly one-ways, which are available at 50% of roundtrip.
Last fall I flew one-way to Cancun on Spirit with AA return on Avios.
In the very least, I have a huge supply of nearly free flights to Miami. I need to start going there more often, like once a week, perhaps?
The thing is, Spirit really wants to pull you in. They don’t want to pull you in so you can game them. want to pull you in so you forget about miles and buy revenue tickets, that’s why they have purposefully made their loyalty program appear useless. Sneaky bastards!
Let’s take a closer look at this program.
- Free Spirit miles expire in 3 months of inactivity. 3 months for Christ’s sake!
- You must book awards at least 6 months in advance to avoid paying booking fees.
- No airlines redemption partners
- Atrocious award levels for a non-credit card member
- Arbitrary fees on an award tickets
And this is before we remember about the beauty of Spirit business model
- 27″ seat pitch—the lowest in the industry
- Fees on EVERYTHING except using lavatory (for now)
- Worst on-time performance among the S. airllines
But then… then let’s do some math while keeping our mind open. Open mind is important.
Here is how many free miles you can get from Spirit before even setting a foot on their plane.
Personal and Business credit cards: 30,000.
Easy Promo 1: 8,000.
Easy Promo 2: 1,500.
That’s a lot of miles and you can do a lot of travel with them, but only if you are a credit card holder.
A roundtrip flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale is 5,000 miles, Cancun 10,000 miles, and Lima 25,000.
Or you could have 16 one-way flights between NYC and FLL/MIA. One-way flight for a credit card holder starts at 2,500 miles.
As we can see, getting a Spirit credit card takes care of atrocious award levels.
There is something else it takes care of: the 3-month expiration policy. Your miles will not expire as long as you use the credit card every month. Put a recurrent charge on it and slip it in a sock. Have Netflix?
An upgrade to BFS, which is as comfortable as an old domestic first class seat (minus free F&B) costs $40-70 one way.
That takes care of the 27″ pitch.
Take a look at this screenshot.
Clocked at 3 hours, a flight between LGA and FLL is short enough that I would be perfectly fine with an economy seat on any commercial airline. Any but Spirit. I’m a big dude, so at 27″ pitch, that’s 3 hours of misery that I don’t want to endure. So I would be facing an uneasy choice here (just kidding, the choice is easy, really):
- To destroy my soul and fly in whatever seat Spirit would put me for 5,000 miles and $11.20
- To pay an extra $10 per segment and at least guarantee myself an aisle seat for the total of $31.20
- To pay an extra $25 per segment and sit in an emergency exit seat—which is their version of premium economy for the total of $61.20
- To pay extra $40 per segment and sit in BFS—their version of a first class seat for $91.20
What would be your choice? If you pick #3 or 4, then you and I are on the same page. You’re still paying less than $100 for a roundtrip flight. So once again, who cares about a 27″ pitch?
For a flight between LGA and Chicago, which is a little shorter, the BFS upgrade comes to $25, and the exit row seat is $20. I would certainly pay more for BFS.
The problem with Free Spirit is that you have to pay for upgrades and bags (if you need them, I don’t) for every segment, even when it’s just a layover. So upgrade your BFS upgrade to Cancun from LGA would cost $40 +$25 for a one- way flight, and you pay for the bags accordingly. This is bullshit, but remember, I’ve never said that the Spirit business model was not despicable. Having said that, $65 is still not too much money to fly 5+ hours in comfort.
If you live in FLL/MIA or DFW, collecting free Spirit miles is a no-brainer, IMHO. Even to me in NYC with only 5 direct flights, Spirit makes sense, sometimes.
- Fort Lauderdale: 45
- Dallas/Fort Worth: 24
- Chicago: 19
- Detroit: 15
- Las Vegas: 14
- Minneapolis/Saint Paul: 13
- Myrtle Beach: 12
- Houston: 12
- Atlantic City: 10
- Boston: 9
- Denver: 9
- Orlando: 9
- Tampa: 7
- Fort Myers: 7
- Los Angeles: 7
- Baltimore/Washington-BWI: 7
- Kansas City: 5
- New YorkLGA: 5
- Latrobe/Pittsburgh 5
- San Diego: 5
- Atlanta: 4
- Phoenix: 4
- Portland: 4
- New Orleans: 3
- Oakland: 3
- Philadelphia: 3
- Plattsburg: 2
- Niagara Falls: 2
- West Palm Beach: 2
Read more about how to get the most from Spirit miles in this post.
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