Ready to earn 5x points on your next flight? Spirit Airlines is the latest carrier to use its loyalty program as an enticement to get people thinking about travel again.
We know how eager our Guests are to get back to some sense of normalcy, and for many of our Free Spirit® members that includes traveling to see friends and family or taking a vacation. With five times the miles, we’re helping our Free Spirit® members make more of those trips when they’re ready, and we’re committed to providing a safe and healthy experience when they do.– Matt Klein, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer
While the earning bonus is not the richest the carrier has ever offered it does offer a broader travel window than most in the past. The company notes that it “specifically allowed for travel approximately six months past the booking window to allow people flexibility to wait and go when they’re comfortable.” While the travel window is broad the booking window is not. Tickets must be purchased by 18 August 2020 to take advantage of the deal.
Is now the time to travel?
For Spirit the goal of inducing new ticket spend now is clear. The company wants the extra revenue and loyalty program bonuses are one lever commonly used to induce that behavior. The carrier is not alone in trying to attract more passengers and not alone in using the frequent flyer program as a tool in that effort. American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others have run similar promotions. Discounted fares are also part of this game, with multiple airlines also running sales on a somewhat regular basis to induce more tickets sold.
And as the summer peak travel season comes to an end, along with an expected end of government subsidized payrolls, the lack of revenue for the industry is a major concern. The Summer season generally delivers an out-sized portion of an airlines cash and 2020 did not deliver on that front. The opposite is happening, with cash burn the metric airlines are evaluated on. While the CARES Act funds delivered a short-term respite, it was really only enough to manage a short-term hit followed by a V-shaped recovery. But that’s not happening.
Instead the entire market remains depressed. Loads remain below 30% of last year for the industry, with airlines fighting for the scraps of bookings that remain.
So grabbing some extra cash from travelers now is great for the airlines. But it likely is less great for establishing control over the public health crisis.
Sure, the air on planes is clean and with the mask rules transmission is much less likely there. But most passengers aren’t flying from one isolation to another. The strict (and growing) mask requirements on board are great but, again, outside the air travel “bubble” rules are lax and enforcement even worse.
So it makes sense that the airlines are doing what they can to secure more cash. And it is nice to see the timeline for the deals extend reasonably long, allowing for the chance that things will be better controlled in a few months such that US travel is a more reasonable activity.
But it is hard to be too optimistic about sales and deals right now, especially knowing that the sooner things are under control the sooner people can return to traveling without the health concerns. And until then the real economic recovery for the airlines cannot really begin.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.