“No one walks into McDonald’s’s and gets disappointed when they don’t see filet mignon on the menu.” This quote was from the former CEO of Spirit Airlines.

Spirit actually began as a trucking company in Michigan in 1964. The Clippert Trucking Company started shipping via air in the 1970s, added passenger service in 1980 as Charter One, and changed its name to Spirit in 1992.

In a world of low-cost airlines, they are an ultra-low-cost airline. David Rendall and I just visited Chicago our on book launch tour. Our friend Denise mentioned she flew during the pandemic to LA for $19 one-way with Spirit.

They keep process and prices low with a brutal combination of the Pink Goldfish of Withholding and Antagonizing.

Spirit pioneered an “a la carte” pricing model that includes a $3 charge for in-flight beverages and a $10 fee for printing a boarding pass at the service desk.

Former CEO B. Ben Baldanza was proud of the fact that Spirit was the first airline to charge for a checked bag in 2010.

Spirit’s restrictive policies and poor customer service have led to a tidal wave of complaints, but the company isn’t apologizing or changing course. They are unapologetic.

“Our complaints are statistically much higher,” Baldanza admits, “but compared to the number of people traveling with us, it’s a tiny drop in the ocean. We’re the Walmart or the McDonald’s’s—not the Nordstrom’s—of the airline industry,”

Spirit withholds almost everything that customers expect, and only provides it for an additional fee.

They also use sexual innuendo in their advertisements, which is Antagonizing to many customers.

Embracing innuendo and being controversial have become hallmarks of Spirit Airlines. They are known for loud campaigns, ads in passenger cabins, and even ads on flight attendants’ aprons.

Spirit Airlines does an amazing job of combining FLAWSOME strategies. You get what you pay for. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, even the ticker symbol speaks to their focus. It’s SAVE.

A friend of mine once shared a funny story. News anchor Tom Brokaw was once in Florida covering an impending hurricane. A breaking story required Brokaw to get back to New York as soon as possible. The story goes that Brokaw briskly walked into the middle of ticketing at the Miami airport and openly declared, “I need to get to New York City in the worst way.” Right then a woman looked at Brokaw and pointed, “Spirit Airlines is right over there.”

Question – have you or would you fly Spirit?

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

Find Stan’s in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops, and Goldfish tank programs at StanPhelps.com.