Florida-based Spirit Airlines has introduced a frequent flyer program called Free Spirit. Free Spirit award travel will be available on every flight, without blackout dates. Domestic awards start at 15,000 miles and Caribbean awards start at 20,000 miles. Free Spirit is managed online, so members will be able to track miles, account balances and status levels at spiritair.com.
In tandem with the launch of the new program, Spirit has released the Free Spirit MasterCard through Juniper Bank (soon to be called Barclay’s). Members earn one mile for every dollar in purchases, and 5,000 bonus miles for signing up. Free Spirit MasterCard holders’ miles never expire, as long as there is at least one purchase per month on the card.
Free Spirit elite levels are fairly unique compared to other programs, because all miles count towards status, whether earned by flying, through bonus miles, special offers, or through spending with the credit card. Elite status can change monthly depending on how many miles have been earned in the preceding 6 months. Mileage earning and bonus opportunities vary depending on the class of ticket booked as well as program status.
Spirit’s elite program is essentially two-tiered. “Elite” is available to members who have the credit card and make at least one purchase a month, or to those who earn 12,000 miles in 6 months (remember, members need not fly to earn these miles). “VIP” level can be earned for racking up 24,000 miles in six months.
In addition, Spirit is recognizing two other groups of elites: “The A-list” (the top 500 members who have at least 40,000 miles in the preceding 6 months) and “Celebrities” (the top 10 members with at least 60,000 miles in the preceding 6 months).
At the end of the membership year, the top 10 mile earning members will be calculated based on all the miles posted to their accounts. Members ranking 2 through 10 will be designated as Celebrities of the Year, and the member in the No. 1 rank will be designated as the #1 member based on miles earned throughout the entire membership year. Number One will get a plane named after him or her, limousine service for a year to and from the airport, and free trips.
Free Spirit is also planning on hosting a party every year to celebrate the leading members in the program.
Flight miles are earned based on actual miles flown. Elite members earn varying levels of bonuses, depending on status level and the class of fare flown. Bonuses can range from 25 percent to 200 percent.
A caveat: Flyers in the cheap seats should be aware that regardless of elite status, flights in discount economy earn no bonuses, and non-elite members will only earn 50 percent of miles flown.
To get all the juicy details, hop online and check out http://www.spiritair.com/freespirit
Note: While we find the geography of the award chart to be confusing at best and hope that as the airline grows, the program will simiplify the zones, we do love a singular aspect of the program: Free Spirit will actually have a standard minimal number of award seats per flight. By publishing this (we believe it is currently at a minimum of four) information, we hope it will help members know they have a reasonable chance without the smoke and mirrors. P.S.: We love the name of the program.