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Flying Spirit Airlines isn’t easy. But if you know the rules, and how to add up what you’ll really pay, Spirit’s miles can offer you some really good value for flights, saving you hundreds of dollars for far fewer miles than traditional airline programs.
Read on for what traps to avoid and how to get the most out of Spirit miles.
Since Spirit Air doesn’t have any partners, you can only use Free Spirit miles to book award flights on Spirit. Spirit predominantly flies in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean, with a few forays into Central and South America, namely Costa Rica, Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Peru.
The best use of Spirit Air miles is for nonstop flights, and this is why your location determines whether or not Spirit miles are useful.
Those who live in or close to Miami/Fort Lauderdale will benefit the most, as FLL is the main Spirit hub and home base. From there it flies to 45 nonstop destinations. Other U.S. cities where Spirit flies are (including seasonal flights):
The Spirit Air Free Spirit award chart appears as if it is region-based, but the regions are distance-based.
So the further you fly, the more your award will cost.
There are four regions, as seen in the chart on the right.First thing you need to know is that there is no value in Spirit miles unless you’re a Spirit credit card holder. You must be a card holder if you want to get their OFF-PEAK levels, which are the only levels worth getting.If you are a Spirit credit card holder, a one-way flight on Spirit costs from 2,500 to 12,500 miles one way. Round trip flights are doubled.
On the left side they clarify what their OFF-PEAK times are. They are not always accurate, so don’t put too much stock into them, just look for your flight using the Spirit’s search engine. At the bottom of the page, you can see the Spirit customer service telephone number. Avoid it at all times if you can help it.
The way Spirit presents the chart looks confusing, but it’s quite easy to decipher.
What you need to figure out is the region determined by the distance between your departure and destination points. For example, a flight between New York and Fort Lauderdale costs 2,500 miles because they are in Region 1. A flight between New York and Lima (Region 4) costs 12,500 miles.
A Spirit award seat can be an incredible bargain if you use the miles right and avoid most of the auxiliary fees the airline is famous for. After the Avios devaluation, the cheapest flight with major U.S. programs starts at 7,500 miles (Avios, United, American, and Delta). A Spirit flight starts at 2,500 miles, and that price also covers the longest distance: 1,249 miles.
Spirit is known for imposing fees on everything. In fact, combining their somewhat lower fares with tons of auxiliary fees is their whole business model. None of Spirit’s fees is especially outrageous compared to other airlines, though, except their punitive $100 fees they impose if you try to beat the system and sneak your bag through the gate.
Close-in booking fee:
Changes and mile redeposit fee: $110
Carry-on bag (22x18x10 maximum):
First checked bag (62 linear inches maximum):
Seat assignments: $8-75 per segment
Phone (agent transaction) fee: $10
Spirit allows awards to be booked from 301 days (with many exceptions) to the same day of departure.
Getting a flight between New York and Fort Lauderdale or Chicago for 2,500 miles is amazing, although finding an OFF-PEAK award flight to Chicago is very hard. Of course, New York is not a major hub for Spirit so there are not many non-stop flights. However, connecting options can be a bargain too.
Chicago is a bigger focus city for Spirit than New York, but it’s also farther away from the Caribbean and Central and South America, so all flights to these destinations are connecting ones.
Dallas has the shortest distances from the South West and South East.
If you live in or close to Miami/Fort Lauderdale, you’re golden. You can get to most places for a song. There is decent availability from FLL to many Caribbean islands and even far away destinations such as Columbia and Peru.
It’s not difficult to find a great value in the Spirit chart. It’s important to remember, though, that Spirit is not your spur-of-the-moment airline.
No, but getting a cash upgrade on Spirit is the best open secret of the Free Spirit program.
When you book an award seat you get an option of paying for a preassigned seat. Most people ignore it, since the only thing they are interested in Spirit is saving money.
That leads to a miserable flight in a cramped, non-reclined seat with the “industry-record” 28-inch pitch. Spirit, however, offers you upgrades to two much better options, either an exit row seat, which is as good as most domestic “premium economy” products or a “big front seat”, which is as good as domestic first class sans food, booze and personalized service.
The price of upgrade depends mostly on the length of the flight, but also on some other considerations, and can be as low as $25 and $36 for a 4-hour Portland–Chicago award (for exit seat row and BFS respectively) and as high as $25 and $75 on a 6-hour long-haul between Fort Lauderdale and Lima.
There are two BoA Spirit World personal and business credit cards with 15,000-mile bonus each and no spending requirements. The personal card waives the $59 annual fee for the first year.
Free Spirit miles expire after 3 months of inactivity, which is strict, but as long as there is some monthly activity on the Spirit credit card, you are good. The easiest way to “set it and forget it” is to put a recurring charge on your credit card and let it run without interruptions.
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