Spirit Airlines has joined most major carriers in the world by extending status in their inaugural year of elite status with its renewed Free Spirit program.
Spirit Airlines Extends Free Spirit Status
Christmas came early (or Channukah came late) for Free Spirit Silver and Gold customers this week. Status has been extended for a year for the first-year holders of the airline’s new status elite levels.
Congratulations on earning Free Spirit Gold® Status this upcoming year! To thank you for being one of our most loyal members, we’re automatically extending your Gold Status benefits through the end of 2023!
Your Free Spirit® Status Details
- We’ve automatically awarded you Free Spirit Gold®Status benefits through December 31, 2023.
- Free Spirit Gold® Status is our highest level of membership.
- Gold Members earn 10 points for every dollar spent on fares and 20 points for every dollar spent on options.
- Gold Members also receive exclusive benefits like free Flight Flex, a complimentary drink and snack onboard, checked baggage, and more!
Thank you for being a loyal Free Spirit® member! We appreciate your business and, as always, look forward to seeing you onboard again soon!
I reached out to Spirit for comment and Erik Hofmeyer, Director of Communications at the carrier who confirmed that the extension of points occurred for all and status for anyone who held status at the time. The status extension email was sent on December 23rd, and for what it’s worth, I asked for confirmation over the holidays and received it on Christmas Day which was impressive to me.
In case you’re unfamiliar with what is included with Free Spirit elite status, it more or less takes away the ancillary costs that some passengers do not like, leaving just incredibly inexpensive fares especially when you buy at the airport. Here is a rundown:
Most Carriers Have Extended, Announced Promotions
Adding to the list of carriers just this week that have extended status for their valued customers, Spirit joins British Airways who extended Executive Club members, and also lowered 2022 requirements.
What makes Spirit particularly unique, is how long they’ve extended status – until December 31st 2023! Status holders already had until December 31st, 2022 to enjoy their elite status benefits, but to extend through that by another year is the most generous of any carrier to date.
Delta extended for all elites in September, American Airlines retooled their entire frequent flyer program and extended through the first quarter. Frontier is offering anyone and everyone a $49 status match, Finnair will outright sell oneworld status for a couple of thousand dollars. Air Canada extended, so did Air France/KLM, and the list goes on and on.
United silently and selectively granted status extensions to some of their elites claiming a rhyme and reason; member accounts suggest that is questionable. Southwest is also sticking to its guns with a four-flight challenge to maintain status announced for the last quarter of 2021 to maintain through the end of 2022.
A Message About Forward Projections
Announcements about status extensions seem to me to be about two things, current re-qualifying elite numbers and forward projections of sales in the new year. It’s no surprise that fewer flyers spent time in the air in 2021. This is less of an issue for Spirit Airlines as prior to this point, its elite status offering was limited, but it also points to what can be expected in the new year.
There’s no question that Spirit had high hopes for the last two years. The revamped loyalty program was only part of that plan. The carrier also added wifi to the fleet, half of the fleet has already gone through this refit. Its “invest in the guest” renewed focus on customers and performance has improved. The airline has moved into new markets with a passion, specifically targeting American Airlines stronghold in Miami and recently adding flights in Philadelphia as well.
However, omicron is putting a damper on plans for every carrier. There are currently more positive COVID cases in the US in December of 2020 than there were in 2021 on the same dates. On December 23rd, for example, more than 265,000 cases were reported compared with 192,000 the year before but what’s startling about that number is that 61.7% of the country is fully vaccinated and two-thirds of those have completed a booster shot. New York state, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country (more than 71%), is one of the leading states for omicron positive tests.
Those numbers that compare with a year ago should also have a huge asterisk as the vaccine was barely available on December 23rd, 2020, meaning that more people contracted the virus despite the majority having received the full vaccine and most of those have been boosted.
Thankfully, mortality rates have dropped to this point from 1.7% a year ago compared with 1.2% now. Still, it’s not mathematically possible for this to be a disease of the unvaccinated. That’s not good news for the airlines and hotels that were ready to make 2022 a comeback year. As the virus spreads, more travelers will cancel or postpone travel as well as businesses.
While Spirit is in no way chalking 2022 up to a loss, they seem to be clear that they know 2022 won’t be the rebound they were hoping it could be. Other carriers seem to agree.
Spirit Airlines extended status in the longest, most generous way of all carriers in the industry to this point. Its generous extension for all levels do not prioritize those who were able to travel over those who weren’t in the prior year, a knife that cuts both ways. It once again has demonstrated that the airline is focused on improving its guest experience and demonstrating it can compete with any airline.
What do you think? Should other carriers have been as generous with their extensions? What does the industry look like next year according to you?