'Never a better time to fly': Spirit Airlines is trying to lure customers amid coronavirus, even as health officials urge lockdown to prevent spread

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'Never a better time to fly': Spirit Airlines is trying to lure customers amid coronavirus, even as health officials urge lockdown to prevent spread

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  • Spirit Airlines emailed customers today an alert on travel deals with the subject line, "Never A Better Time To Fly."
  • This is in contrast with numerous public health experts urging folks that, indeed, it is not a good time to fly to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • Shares of Spirit stock are down nearly 66% from last month. The airline industry overall bled $41 billion in market value over the month of February.
  • Do you work for Spirit Airlines or another company that's urging customers to fly amid coronavirus? Email rpremack@businessinsider.com.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

According to Spirit Airlines, we're in an unprecedentedly good time to board a plane.

"The perfect time to treat yourself? Right this minute," according to a Spirit Deals email sent to customers on Thursday morning. "Grab a great fare now and plan a trip today. "

The email added "Off you go!", accompanied by a photo of a placid-looking woman doing yoga on a pier. The subject line read: "Never A Better Time To Fly."

This is in stark contrast to warnings by public health officials to avoid domestic travel and practice "social distancing" - the disease-prevention tactic of avoiding large groups. Tom Bossert, a former homeland security adviser to Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush, wrote in a Washington Post column this week that America is on the cusp of an "acute, exponential growth" of the coronavirus, which has now killed 38 people in the US and more than 4,600 globally.

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Spirit did not return Business Insider's request for comment.

Spirit Airlines coronavirus deal

The American Hospital Association estimated in a presentation obtained by Business Insider that the novel coronavirus may kill as many as 480,000, infect up to 96 million, and result in up to 4.8 million hospitalizations.

Private and public institutions are taking note. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised those over 60 or with chronic illnesses to stay home and stock up on groceries. And Google, Amazon, and other major corporations cracked down on domestic travel for employees weeks ago.

In lieu of a vaccine, Bossert wrote that early social distancing was key to preventing such a worst-case scenario. "School closures, isolation of the sick, home quarantines of those who have come into contact with the sick, social distancing, telework and large-gathering cancellations must be implemented before the spread of the disease in any community reaches 1 percent," he wrote. "After that, science tells us, these interventions become far less effective."

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That would include avoiding air travel - no matter how low-cost the fares are.

Emails leaked to the Miami New Times from Norwegian Cruise Lines revealed that a placid brand messaging strategy has been taken on throughout the travel industry. Managers there reportedly instructed employees to feed misleading, unconfirmed information guaranteeing the safety of their cruises.

"The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise," one of the talking points read, according to the report.

Those deals, including what Spirit is peddling, will likely appeal to travel-keen and budget-conscious millennials and Gen Zs. Many are taking advantage of coronavirus-related travel deals. Airlines are slashing ticket prices amid a $41 billion tumble in their market value; shares of Spirit have tumbled 66% in the past month.

As NBC News reported, 27-year-old Capri Nicole saved $200 on a flight from Atlanta to Connecticut to visit her cancer-stricken grandmother.

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"There's sicknesses everywhere. I could get a disease today unrelated from the virus," Nicole told NBC, adding, "If I die, I die."

Do you work for Spirit Airlines or another company that's urging customers to fly amid coronavirus? Email rpremack@businessinsider.com.

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