I never, ever thought I would say this, but I’ve got to give Spirit Airlines some credit. They’ve gone from what many would consider the bottom of the barrel to an airline that’s, yes, still an ultra-low-cost carrier, but that’s also made some great strides over the past few years:
- They partnered with Disney to improve their customer service
- Some of their flight attendants have a GREAT sense of humor
- EARLY in the pandemic, they didn’t mess around with mask use
- They’ve gone from America’s worst-hated travel company in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to not even making the Top 25 in 2021
- They currently rank 6th in on-time performance, just behind United, and beating American, Southwest and JetBlue
- This has also been the year that they gained/improved 3 slots (out of 16) in likeliness of losing your luggage (notice that every other non-regional airline did worse)
- Heck, they even made Fortune’s list of the world’s most admired companies this year!
So good on them!
But to get off the topic of Spirit for a moment…we’ll get back there in second. Promise.
Just like the travel industry, the arts are slowly and surely making a comeback. Museums are reopening, singers, dancers, actors and musicians are going back out to do performances, you name it.
With the arts reawakening, performers need venues to, well, perform in. So the Performing Arts Centers that are scattered across the country are finally reopening, too. One such PAC is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. High-end arts organizations such as the Florida Grand Opera, the South Florida Symphony Orchestra and the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida call the Broward Center home. The Broadway in Fort Lauderdale season is also available at the Broward Center, with a package of 5, 6 or 7 touring Broadway shows per season.
Anyway, a lot of people with a lot of money are annual subscribers to these arts organizations’ respective programs. VIPs, some who give enough money to have a theater, hallway, or whole building named after them, want somewhere nice to hang out until, and sometimes after showtime. So there are special waiting rooms for them.
The Broward Center has such a club level space, and its sponsor this year is (See? I told ya we’d get back to them) Spirit Airlines.
Even though Spirit’s doing better as a company (OK, let’s ignore the meltdown they had that week in August; they’re growing fast, the pandemic is messing up a lot of systems, etc.), they’re still an ultra-low-cost carrier. So I’m not quite sure how or why this sponsorship happened? But there ya go – a super cheap airline is sponsoring lounge space for super-rich VIPs.
Meanwhile, that very irony was not lost on the internet ;-). So when the Broward Center announced their ribbon-cutting ceremony on Facebook, there was more than one comment designed to raise eyebrows and/or smiles:
“Glassware, plates, ice,and seating extra. Also assuming vodka is Popov, beer is Milwaukee’s Best, and wine is by the jug.” – Scott M.
“Does that mean you made the seats smaller? Will we have to pay additional to bring a purse or bag?” – Walter E.
“How much for cube of ice?” – Itoro C.
“Those don’t look like the folding chairs that are on every spirit flight I’ve been on.” – Fester A.
“One more Spirit Airlines place for people to fight, doesn’t have to be exclusive to only a plane.” – Christian D.
“Great, now the Spirit clientele that fly with their luggage wrapped in trash bags and duck [sic] tape have a place to sit.” – Scott M.
“I’m just here for the comments” – James T.
“Spirit Airline: Free Lounge! Did you forget your membership card? $5 we will print one at the lounge for you. Lounge is for standing only. If you would like to have a seat, you can reserve it online for $5 or $10 in person. Lounge is a luggage-free zone. If you would like to bring your carry on, it is $5 to pay in advance online, or $10 in person. Water is FREE! but there is a fee for the cup, $5 for the cup! or join our Spirit Water Member Club for $59.99 a year and we will provide the free cup for your FREE water at the lounge! Lounge is free the first 15 minutes, after 15 minutes you will be billed $1 per hour! Free WIFI* *Free Wifi available first 15 minutes, must pre-register 24 hours in advance.” – Winston W.
“This is ghetto on another level” – Iesha O.
“They fancy now” – Chardae J.
So yeah…even though they’re improving, years of how Spirit Airlines has been perceived precedes them. As companies like Chick-fil-A can attest, past reputation is a REALLY hard thing to fix. But, like CFA, Spirit’s working on it – I guess this is another way they’re doing that.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary