3 ways Spirit’s frequent flyer program just got a whole lot better
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Yesterday, Spirit Airlines announced an all-new frequent flyer program that is set to launch on Jan. 21, 2021. While the ‘Free Spirit’ name will remain, it’s an otherwise top-to-bottom replacement of Spirit’s old, dated, less-than-rewarding frequent flyer program with a new, modern-era approach.
With an all-new program comes a long list of changes. We released a guide that covers everything we know about the new Spirit Airlines Free Spirit program. But if you just want to know the highlights, here are the three biggest improvements to the Free Spirit program that we’re most excited about.
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More time to use your points
There was plenty of opportunity for improvement in the old Spirit Airlines Free Spirit program, but the immediate non-starter with the program was that your miles would expire 90 days after you earned them without additional earning activity.
Even if you flew Spirit at regular intervals two or three times each year, your Free Spirit miles were probably going to expire at some point. Any three-month gap between Spirit flights — unless you really went out of your way to keep your miles alive — meant that they were all gone. I never bothered earning any Spirit miles for my kids, and mine would always eventually expire.
Beginning Jan. 21, your Spirit points won’t expire for at least a year. And if you have a cobranded Spirit Airlines credit card account, your points won’t expire for as long as you have that card.
Otherwise, any redeeming or earning activity once every 12 months with Spirit (or its partners) will reset the expiration clock for another year. That’s still not an industry-leading policy, as many programs have eliminated point expiration entirely, but it’s reasonable and substantially better than the old rule.
Ability to pool points
When you’re booking travel for a whole family, it’s easy to end up with small frequent flyer balances scattered across multiple accounts. The ability to pool those points or miles solves that problem by allowing you to combine redeemable rewards from different accounts together to book awards faster. Points pooling isn’t a unique feature to Spirit, but it’s still relatively uncommon across U.S. frequent flyer programs.
Beginning Jan. 21, Spirit will allow its cardholders and elite status members to run a points pool that is open to up to eight other friends and family members. Those members of the pool don’t have to have any particular credit card or elite status level to be in a pool — you just can’t run one. In my case, that means my dad (a proud Spirit cardholder since forever) can be the head of the points pool, and then my family can pool our earned Spirit points into that account so they won’t ever go to waste again.
Ability to earn free bags and seat assignments
Outside of a big promotion or status match opportunity (and my gut says that will happen), I probably don’t fly Spirit enough to earn elite status. However, some people do. In fact, one of TPG’s own Florida-based points experts may tip some of his airline bookings to Spirit to earn status.
For the folks who spend enough with Spirit (or on the cobranded credit card) to unlock elite status, it’s a really big deal that seat assignments and bag fees can be waived beginning Jan. 21. Being able to fly an ultra low-cost carrier on a cheap ticket and avoid those fees would be a big game-changer.
When I fly Spirit, it is very common that my ancillary fees cost as much as (if not more than) the base fare itself, so this would represent very real cost-savings for the status holder.
From what we know so far, Spirit’s new all-new program still doesn’t put them at the front of the pack, but it absolutely puts them in the pack of airline frequent flyer programs. That alone is a major improvement.
With these changes, Free Spirit will go from a loyalty program that was not worth the time of even registering my kids to earn miles, to one where my whole family will be actively earning points.
Featured image by Orli Friedman/The Points Guy
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