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Spirit Airlines adds 3 routes to new destination in Mexico, continues growing at LAX

March 31, 2021
4 min read
Spirit Airlines adds 3 routes to new destination in Mexico, continues growing at LAX
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Spirit Airlines is expanding south of the border.

On Wednesday, the Miramar, Florida-based carrier announced that its yellow Airbuses will be touching down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PVR), on July 1.

Spirit will serve this popular Mexico beach destination from three cities: Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston (IAH). Service from LAX will be daily, while the Texas routes will be operated three-times-weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

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“Offering our guests convenient flights to beautiful destinations and spectacular beaches is what Spirit Airlines is all about, which makes Puerto Vallarta the perfect new market to connect to major cities in our network,” John Kirby, vice president of network planning, in a statement.

In addition to adding PVR as a new route-map pin, the carrier will boost existing service to Mexico, where it currently serves both Cancun (CUN) and Los Cabos (SJD). Spirit will add a daily flight from LAX to SJD beginning on May 5, joining existing service from DFW and IAH.

Spirit flyers can upgrade to the carrier's Big Front Seat for a more comfortable ride (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The two new Los Angeles flights mark a major milestone for the carrier — they'll become the first international routes from this rapidly growing Spirit Airlines station.

Domestically, Spirit is also adding a new daily LAX flight, to Columbus (CMH) in Ohio, beginning on June 9. This joins the recently announced service to Louisville (SDF), St. Louis (STL), New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Milwaukee (MKE).

Altogether, with the latest additions, LAX will become the carrier's fourth-largest operating base, after Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Orlando (MCO) and Las Vegas (LAS). Two years ago, the gateway to Southern California was the tenth-largest in the network; now it's averaging roughly 40 flights a day.

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"We've long wished to grow in Los Angeles, but it's a very constrained airport. This pandemic has given us the opportunity to grow our footprint there, and we're taking advantage of it," Kirby said in a recorded interview.

The growth spurt in Los Angeles comes as the competition for the city heats up. No single U.S. airline dominates the LAX market. All three major network carriers have a hub there, while Southwest and JetBlue both consider it to be a focus city.

(Map courtesy of Spirit)

For the O&D (origin and destination) traffic at LAX, Spirit's growth spells good news. The carrier's bare fares will likely cause the incumbents to compete more closely on price. Angelenos will enjoy more robust flight options as well.

Related: Spirit Airlines adds 2 new cities in 12-route expansion

As for Mexico, Spirit's route choices pit it squarely against two of the nation's largest carriers: American Airlines and United. Each operates a mega-hub in Dallas and Houston, respectively, and Spirit's new PVR flights will likely compete fiercely with these Big 3 competitors. In fact, the IAH-PVR route will break United's 18-year (and counting) monopoly on the nonstop route, according to Cirium schedule data.

"The important thing is serving Puerto Vallarta from the right gateways. We've historically been more of an eastern half of the country carrier, but Puerto Vallarta is a western half destination," Kirby said.

Spirit's rapid growth — nine new cities since the outset of the pandemic — comes as travelers are quickly returning to the skies. Leisure-focused routes are performing the best, with every major airline doubling down on outdoor-friendly destinations like beaches and national parks.

With more than a million average daily travelers passing through TSA checkpoints nationwide, Spirit's seemingly hopeful that it can capture its share while using the pandemic-related downturn to bolster its position as the nation's top budget carrier.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more