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How Spirit Airlines Embraced a Mobile-First Approach With a New App
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Spirit Airlines decided to become an ultra-low-cost carrier in the mid-2000s that sold seats at the base ticket price, rather than bundling services travelers weren’t interested in. Publicis Sapient worked with Spirit to build on the model and brought that to a new and improved mobile app, while shifting away from analog channels.

The Imperative for Change

When Spirit launched its first, check-in only app in 2017, the airline quickly saw how critical customers were of the app because it lacked some basic functionalities. Spirit launched the second app generation in 2018, but it contained several design flaws that didn’t allow for a seamless customer experience. Spirit realized it didn’t just need a mobile footprint, it needed a mobile mindset throughout the entire organization.

The Transformative Solution

The newly designed app is a refresh to previous versions and is dynamic, more user-friendly and anticipates users’ needs. Customers can now add and pay for things like bags, select seat assignments, and add other options like priority boarding and security, on top of the original check-in functionality. The My Trips feature on the app’s home page now reflects wherever customers are in their trip journey, such as when it’s time to check in, and customers can begin the process with a single click. Spirit’s long-term vision is to enable customers to handle every aspect of their trip within the app, and future updates include airport maps and points of interest based on location.

“With the current generation of our app, we’re super thrilled with the response from customers. It’s more consistent with what customers are used to see with other apps, not just airline apps, but with mobile apps in general. We see the potential for this to be tremendous. We’re working very hard right now to add some rich features to the mobile app, and we have many more to come.”
Rocky Wiggins, Chief Information Officer, Spirit Airlines

The Business Impact

Customers now have a highly intuitive app that understands their needs, and Spirit has gained insights and user behavior analytics for each functionality to keep building momentum. Looking at the past year, from February 2020 before the pandemic to February 2021, average order value for ancillary products grew more than 45 percent, and overall sales increased more than two-fold, while active monthly users remained relatively steady. We used GraphQL to shrink the average app response time to generate things like boarding passes to 1.5 seconds, about 50 percent faster than previous generations.

Dan Alpert
Dan Alpert
Executive Client Partner, Travel & Hospitality