Spirit is poking fun at Delta Air Lines. Photo: Spirit.
Spirit Airlines is having some fun at the expense of its much larger rivals.
In a bit of gorilla marketing on Monday, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline said it will temporarily give bonus frequent flier miles to passengers who book the cheapest fares.
If you book a one-way fare for fewer than $36, you’ll receive 1,000 bonus miles from Spirit. If the fare is between $26 and $65, you’ll get an extra 500 miles. And if your fare is between $66 and $99, you’ll receive an additional 250 miles.
Last month, Delta Air Lines revamped its Skymiles structure so that customers who buy expensive tickets will receive far more miles than those who buy cheap ones. Other larger airlines are also moving in this direction, though not as quickly.
“We see an increasing trend in other airlines switching to an elitist frequent flier reward system that essentially favors customers who have deeper wallets and can spend more money on their flights,” Bobby Schroeter, Vice President of Consumer Marketing said in a statement. “Our FREE SPIRIT program rewards customers based on their loyalty and we
firmly believe that the more money we save our customers, the more loyal they will be.”
Customers who buy Spirit tickets before April 15 will be eligible for the promotion.
Spirit is known for two things. Cheap fares and suspect customer service. NPR’s Planet Money program did a feature on Spirit recently, and it’s worth a listen if you haven’t yet heard it.
Here are some aviation stories I’ve enjoyed in the past week.
- Delta’s newest 737s are arriving with slightly smaller lavatories than others in the carrier’s fleet, according to Business Insider. On an airliner, space is money. See the photo below.
- More than 170 new LED lights at Newark Liberty International Airport are more than just lights, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, “… the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff.”
- With United substantially reducing its Cleveland operations, Delta and Frontier are swooping in to add flights. Not many, but at least it’s something, Brett Snyder writes at Cranky Flier.
- Brazil won’t allow Air France to fly its A380s into Sao Paulo. The reason, according to Today in the Sky and the Associated Press? The airport runway is not wide enough to accommodate the plane.
- Starting in June, Allegiant Air will resume flight from LAX to two cities – Billings, Montana and Pasco (Tri-Cities), Washington — according to World Airline News.
Frontier Airlines believes there’s space for a third ultra low cost carrier in the United States. Do you agree?
I linked to it earlier today, but I think it’s worth taking another look at Brett Snyder’s interview with Daniel Shurz, Senior Vice President – Commercial for Frontier Airlines.
In one of the most interesting parts, Schurz says the U.S. market needs more ultra-low cost carriers, like Allegiant and Spirit. He says the airlines we now view as low cost — Southwest and Jetblue among them — are not really LCCs in the European model.
Into and out of the UK on intra-Europe flying, ULCCs account for over 50% of capacity. In all of Europe, it’s just over a third. Spirit and Allegiant represent slightly below 3% of US capacity. Even if you include Frontier, we want to get to the ULCC point, it’s still under 4.5% of the capacity. I think that leaves a significant opportunity for ULCCs in the US market, and I think it leaves an opportunity for differentiated strategies across the ULCCs.
Frontier has been making a play not only in its long-time home of Denver, but also in smaller airports in the Northeast, such as Trenton, N.J. Shurz tells Snyder that the region is ripe for an ultra low cost carrier.
And the world has changed. I think you’ve done work, Brett, to show how much domestic fares have risen notably on one airline, but also generally. And that’s what’s creating opportunity for ULCCs in the country. It’s that fare umbrella. The northeast never had low fares to the same extent since Southwest was never that big in the Northeast. And their failure to succeed in Philadelphia has led to fares rising. One of the things about Wilmington is that even though Baltimore fares are lower than in general in the northeast, they’re significantly higher than they were 5 to 10 years ago.
I’m not sure whether Frontier will be successful as the third ultra low cost carrier in the United States. But I do think the market needs more low-fare airlines to undercut carriers like United, American, Delta and even Jetblue and Southwest. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Do you think Frontier can make it? The airline likely will be sold in the next few days to Indigo Partners, a Phoenix investment firm.