Spirit's final answer: No.
So why would the airline take so much flack for keeping less than $200 from a dying Marine? They certainly don't need that $197 to turn a profit. They just posted revenues of $301 million in the first quarter of 2012, with $23.4 million in profits. So why take the punishment?
I believe it's part of their PR strategy. I think they're trying to get this message out to their fans: "We're working so hard to save you money, we're screwing everyone else so we can offer you a few cents off your next ticket. For example, look at what we did to this dying all-American hero! That $197 is going to find its way into your pockets!!!"
Will this cynical PR move really work? If the past is indication of the future, then it probably already has.