Spirit Airlines rewarding customers who tweet complaints

CEO Ben Baldanza explains business approach


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," July 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Trash an airline with a tweet and you`re on your way to a free trip.

To the CEO who is giving away free miles to anyone who has a chance of a bad experience on any airline, including his own.

To Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza.

Ben, what is this about?

BEN BALDANZA, CEO, SPIRIT AIRLINES: Well, good to be with you again, Neil.

We know that people can get frustrated with air travel for all kinds and reasons and we decided that we would try to make things a little more lighthearted, and say, look, complain about any airline for any reason and we will give you enough miles to get you really close to a free trip, and we`re doing this as part of an overall campaign we call Hug the Haters, which is all about helping people to better understand our business model.

CAVUTO: All right, you`re open to them lying to you about it? Like if I want a good ticket price, I can just make up a story.

BALDANZA: Well, here`s the thing.

If they want to write a compliment, it will do the same for us. They can write compliments, and say, but I`m complaining because I didn`t like this ad. They can just say anything they want.

CAVUTO: Oh. So if you have any problem at all, down to I`m having a bad day, you could even do that, right?

BALDANZA: That`s right. If they have a bad experience on another airline, they can just write about that, too, and vent a little and we will reward them for their venting.

Like I said, people can get frustrated with airlines, but at the same time, what Spirit is doing is trying to lower airfares for everybody. And the way we do that is by running an airline that is a little bit different, in ways you and have talked about before, and we`re trying to just make this more transparent for people.

CAVUTO: Right.

Yes. You have sort of a rabid following. Those who know your airline know all the ins and outs and the rules and all about your fees and they know about the fact that the basic flat price is still very, very low, very, very promising.

But if you don`t know that, those who don`t know the airline as well will be surprised that carry-ons and doing a thing at a kiosk, it all adds up. But what about the ones who are surprised? How do you deal with them as you grow now who say, wait a minute, it isn`t that, I`m paying an arm and a leg here because I`m being charged for lots of stuff?

BALDANZA: We`re working on that, because we don`t want anyone to be surprised.

And, basically, we have a little difference today. If you buy from Spirit on our Web site, it really works well and you see all that. If you buy Spirit from some other sources, you don`t necessarily see all that. So we`re working with our third-party partners to try to be more transparent that way.

We`re also trying to talk to customers that buy tickets somewhere other than our web site and talk to them before they get to the airline. We`re also working on signage at the airports and all kinds of things, because we want no one to be surprised when they actually show up for their flight.

CAVUTO: Very good. Ben, thank you very much, Ben Baldanza.

And you know, he does spell it out, not like these other duplicitous worms in the airline industry who hide things and you never have no idea of what is coming up and all. He spells it all out. It`s all there for you to see. They don`t play games.

They just tell you all of this. The other airlines, oops. So, whether you`re for or against these fees and all the other stuff, it all there for you to know, whether you like it not. The other guys, I`m just saying they walk past a mirror and they don`t see a reflection. But that`s just me.

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