There are two sides to taking advantage of Spirit Airlines Free Spirit program. The first is finding the cheapest redemption level for your flight, and the second one is getting the best seat on the bus, which means, a Big Front Seat (reminder: an equivalent of a domestic first class service but without free booze and food). In the very least, you owe it to yourself and get an Emergency Exit seat, which is an equivalent of Economy Comfort.
Finding the cheapest redemption rate does not only mean being flexible enough for an off-peak rate. In some cases, there is a trick that can help you save miles. Here is an example.
Free Spirit is a region-based program that price their redemption seats in the following fashion:
Region 1 (0-1249 miles): 2,500 off-peak
Region 2 (1250-1749 miles): 5,000 off-peak
Region 3 (1750-2499 miles): 7,500 off-peak
Region 4 (2500+ miles): 12,500 off-peak
For obvious reasons, we are not interested in anything that is not off-peak.
Let us say that you want to fly from NYC to Panama City. The ideal Free Spirit award redemption, as I already mentioned in one of my previous posts would be a direct, non-stop flight, but since I live in NYC, I don’t have a lot of options. Spirit is not fond of New York.
Here is how your LGA-PTY flight will look like if you book it outright from New York.
As you can see, you will pay 7,500 miles plus $22 in fees and taxes. Note, I intentionally showed you the 10-hour layover in FLL. These kinds of layovers are frequent with Spirit. Or, sometimes you get 40 minutes. I personally don’t mind spending a day in Miami, but your idea of flying efficiently may vary. Just saying
Anyway, 7,500 miles for a flight from NYC to Panama City is already quite a good deal, considering that United would charge you 17,500 miles. But you can do even better. And you will still be routed via Fort Lauderdale. Nothing will change except having two reservations instead of one.
So, if instead of one LGA-PTY flight, you book two: LGA-FLL and FLL-PTY, then each of them will only cost you 2,500 miles, and you will spend 5,000 miles total instead of 7,500. Of course, you will pay fees and taxes twice, so does it make sense to save 2,500 and pay extra $21? If you answer no to this question, remember that Spirit Air does not charge an award redemption fee if you book more than 180 days in advance (this fee is $15 in each of my examples). So, all you will have to pay is the extra taxes to the tune of about $11.
$11 for 2,500 Spirit miles? I’ll take it. To tell you the truth, since 2,500 miles is enough to get you a one-way flight, I would gladly pay $21 too. Of course, there are people who are oh so desperate to do anything with the Spirit miles they spend them on magazines! Well, to each their own.
Can You Do Even Better?
You certainly can. If your one-way flight consists of two segments, here is the formula.
Let’s say you have three cities, A, B, and C, whereas A is your departure city, C is your destination, and B is your layover airport.
When A and C are in the 3rd region, while both A and B, and B and C are in the 1st, you win 2,500 miles by booking separately.
When A and C are in the 4th region, while A and B is in the 1st, and B and C are in the 2nd (or the other way around), you win 5,000 miles by booking separately.
Again, you will pay slightly more in taxes, since you’re booking two flights instead of one. But that’s mere peanuts.
Check this chart to find more opportunities.
First Class on Spirit Air: the Best Bargain in the Sky!
Spirit’s first is a Big Front Seat (BFS from now on). You don’t get free booze and free food, and no one calls you by name, but you do get a lot of space. In terms of the seat and the space. I have flown domestic first, and I didn’t feel that the Spirit’s BFS was any different. The recline was great, the width was great–no discomfort for a large guy like me–and my feet never hit the wall either.
BFS is comfortable. Pay for the booze, and you’ll still get ahead.
There are three ways of getting upgraded to BFS. The safest and most expensive way is to buy it online before on-line boarding. The second best, but riskier way is to get it at the gates (where you should be one of the first passengers). The cheapest and riskiest way is to try and upgrade on board if there is availability. Bottom line, for a longer flight I wouldn’t risk it.
This is a flight between Lima and Fort Lauderdale. It lasts almost six hours and I believe it is the longest flight in Spirit Air network. What do you think: worth the money?
Don’t bother, it was a rhetorical question. It is worth the money. At the very least, I would book an Emergency Exit seat, and try to upgrade at the gate to guarantee that I’m not flying Spirit coach for six hours.
This is an almost equally long flight, 5 hours 40 minutes, and the BFS costs the same $75, but there is a difference. The flight above is A319, and this one is A320. A320 have only four BFSs. With that kind of aircraft, I wouldn’t risk it at all.
Apparently, distance is not the only consideration for Spirit Air. This is my flight between LGA and FLL that clocks at 3 hours, and the cost of the BFS is $40.
In the meantime, the flight between Portland and Chicago lasts 4 hours, while the BFS goes for $5 cheaper. I don’t know. West Coast, East coast thingy, perhaps? LOL.
Spirit Airlines has a reputation of being an airline for cheapskates. That’s fine, but it works even better for cheapskates in a first class seat.
Is There Anything That Is Not Good About Spirit Airline?
Of course, but it’s not nickel and diming; it is not fully outsourced customer service; and it is not their ridiculous marketing antics, and it’s definitely not their 3-month expiration term, which is easily avoidable with BoA Free Spirit credit card. The real problem of flying with Spirit is that they have no interline agreements with other airlines. None!
When things go wrong with Spirit, your trip might be very seriously interrupted. Plainly speaking, in case of an equipment problem, they will not put you on an another airline so you could continue your journey. Delays with Spirit tend to be of epic proportions, so bad so that I would not fly Spirit for any critical trip. If you are meeting a client, flying to the wedding, connecting to another critical flight, either don’t fly Spirit or have a contingency plan. By a contingency plan, I mean, be ready to either book a new same-day award ticket with another airline or buy that ticket at the counter, if that’s not an option. I know, ouch!
There is a reason why I believe in diversification. There are no good frequent flyer programs and bad frequent flyer programs, and Free Spirit is no different as long as you know what to expect.
Photo By: Frank Kovalchek