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“Speaking of eating, I’d rather eat broken glass than deal with @SpiritAirlines ever again. Worse customer service imaginable.”
This is just one of the many “hate” tweets Spirit Airlines recently received during their ongoing “Unleash the Hate” Campaign,which encourages Spirit passengers to, how shall we say, voice their dissatisfaction, and in exchange Spirit offers 8,000 frequent flyer miles.
“Let’s clear the air. Hate on us – or any airline of your choosing – and we’ll send you 8,000 FREE SPIRIT miles. You’ll be well on your way to earning an award flight with us. We think that once you understand how we fly-how our total price is, on average, 40% lower than other airlines-you just might learn to love us.”
It may sound crazy, but it could be clever stroke of marketing (if it doesn’t backfire). The airline explains that many people aren’t aware of its policies, such as their restrictive (and costly) baggage requirements. Spirit realizes it hasn’t done a good job educating customers on their rules, and they’re aware that when people book cheap tickets expecting the same service they get on other airlines, it can be extremely frustrating.
For example, customers may book a cheap ticket through a third party site like Expedia and are later angry when they realize they have to pay extra to store their bag in the overhead bins. The idea is to educate and make customers aware of Spirit’s policies, and why they’re so cheap compared to other airlines. Spirit assumes that if they award free miles and better explain their policies, customers will learn Spirit’s rules and requirements, and those who continue to fly will end up less grumpy.
Spirit Airlines is clearly aware that people are unhappy with them–in fact–they also note that “Airlines mess up, but at least Spirit is willing to admit it”. And people are indeed displeased. According to customer reports from 2013, Spirit was ranked worst airline in America, with Virgin Airline ranked the highest and Southwest second.
The ironic part about the campaign is that Spirit will award you 8,000 miles not only for complaining about Spirit, but also for complaining about other airlines as well. You can select your “unpreferred” airline from a drop-down list, hash out your misgivings, and voila, within 10 days, 8,000 Spirit miles will be posted to your account. If you don’t have a Spirit account, you can sign up for one and then complain. Considering that standard award tickets on Spirit start at 10,000 miles one-way, they’re certainly not just giving out token amounts. On the downside, you’d have to use those miles on Spirit. This is a boon to the poor souls who are compelled to fly Spirit for one reason or another, but it’s not enough to pique my interest.
Apart from hating on Spirit Airlines, those looking to top up their Free Spirit miles should also consider the Spirit Airlines World Mastercard, which offers 15,000 miles after first purchase and waives the annual fee for the first year. The card also gives you access to heavily discounted off-peak awards, which start as low as 5,000 miles round-trip. If you know how to navigate Spirit’s minefield of fees, that’s a very good deal.
The promotion ends ends July 31, or when Spirit gives out a total of 1 billion miles, so if you feel like doing a little hating, I’d get on it asap, because I sense they’re going to run out quickly.
Spirit has offered a short video that informs customers why their fares are low, and what passengers should know before flying. They explain that the Bare Fare comes with a seat and pretty much nothing else (except a small personal item, NOT a carry-on). The video also shares that in lieu of things like WiFi, Spirit has chosen to add more seats to the plane. (Less legroom? Yes. Cheaper fare? Yes.) On Spirit, you pay for what you want, a bare bones policy known as “Frill Control”. In order to bring a carry-on, you must pay between $26-$35 if you book it ahead of time, BEFORE online check-in. If not, you pay between $36-$45 if you reserve your carry-on at online check-in, or a whopping $100 at the gate. For a list of full fees including check-in baggage, click here.
Spirit isn’t the only airline to offer bare bones service when it comes to baggage and seating rules. Many low cost airlines in Asia and Europe have been charging extra for anything and everything for years. Even Frontier Airlines recently changed their policy to charge for carry on bags, as Allegiant does .
I’ve never flown Spirit, but I think there’s a niche in the world for the service offered by budget carriers, so long as all fees and restrictions are spelled out clearly in advance. If you know what you’re getting into, you can have an easy and cheap flying experience. If you do decide to fly Spirit, make sure you’re well-versed in their rules and regulations BEFORE you fly to save yourself unnecessary costs and hassle (the same goes for any low cost airline).
Will you be taking advantage of this policy and complaining for free miles? What do you think about Spirit’s “Unleash the Hate” campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.