When one of your friends or family members tells you that there are some really cheap plane tickets out there, many times they’re talking about flights from Frontier Airlines.
The Denver-based airline is known in the industry as an ultra-low cost carrier. While people usually have strong feelings about flying in that segment, Frontier is the ninth-largest airline in the country — so they must be doing something right.
Want to fly for cheap? Read this before you book Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines was born out of a Continental Airlines work stoppage in 1993. One year later, Frontier was flying out of Denver bound for four destinations in North Dakota. The following year, the carrier added more routes and cities and grew from there.
Frontier Airlines: Table of contents
- Where does Frontier fly?
- Frontier’s safety record
- Change fees
- Cheap fares
- Seating assignments
- Baggage fees
- Passenger reviews
- Family friendliness
- How to save on Frontier
If you’ve never flown Frontier or you’re thinking of booking a ticket again in the near future, here are some important things to know about the carrier:
1. Where does Frontier fly?
Frontier operates flights to more than 100 destinations throughout the United States and a handful of international destinations (Canada, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Puerto Rico). The company is looking to expand in the next few years. See their route map here.
Before you book a flight to any of those destinations, here’s a general rule you need to know about this airline: Frontier allows you to fly with one free personal item (it needs to be able to fit under your seat). Other than that, carry-on baggage is going to cost you — but more on that later.
2. How safe is Frontier Airlines?
Many people are curious about the safety record of Frontier Airlines. The airline has not had a fatal plane crash in its quarter-century of existence.
Although there are reports that gauge customer confidence in airlines, the government agency that tracks accidents and incidents steers clear of compiling data that effectively ranks the safety of airlines.
An airline report prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration concluded that “there currently is no evidence in accident data that would support the ranking of individual airlines based on their safety records… While there may be apparent differences in carrier safety records at any particular time … there is no evidence that such distinctions persist nor that they are predictive of future safety performance.”
That said, the website AirlineRatings.com included Frontier on its 2019 list of the Top 10 Safest Low-Cost Airlines.
3. What are Frontier’s change fees?
Frontier announced in September 2019 a new change fee policy. Here are the details:
- If you change your flight 60 or more days in advance you will pay $0 in change fees.
- If you make changes to your flight between 14 and 59 days in advance, you pay $79 (If you bought your ticket before September 13, 2019, you pay the previous fee of $49).
- If you make changes 13 days or less before departure, you pay $119. See more details here.
4. How is Frontier able to charge such cheap fares?
Frontier’s low fares are a result of its no-frills base packages. Frontier also has two fares — called THE WORKS and THE PERKS — which allow fliers to get a price exemption on a carry-on bag and checked bag.
Here is how those two fares break down, according to Frontier’s website:
When you see those super-cheap online deals that Frontier advertises, those are just base packages. There are a number of add-ons that you may well run into. Here are some of them:
- All reservations made through the call center will incur a $25 booking fee per passenger. This fee is waived for all frequent flyer members in the Frontier Miles Elite program.
- If there’s no change in the travel itinerary, Frontier will let you change the name on a ticket for a $75 fee plus any difference in the fares.
5. Does Frontier charge for a seating assignment?
Frontier won’t charge economy passengers for a seating assignment if you let the airline choose it within 24 hours of your flight (but don’t bet on sitting next to family). Otherwise, be prepared to pay up.
There are two categories of seats: Standard and Stretch. Here are the prices:
- Standard: These seats start at $5 but will be more than triple that if you book via call center or at the ticket counter or kiosk.
- Stretch: These seats start at $16 but can more than triple if you buy them via call center or at the ticket counter.
You can buy your own seat assignment when you check-in online within 24 hours of departure on your Manage My Booking page under the My Trips tab on the website.
6. How much does Frontier charge for baggage?
Like most airlines, Frontier charges for checked bags. The airline has six price tiers for bags, depending on when you travel.
Checked bags must be under 50 pounds and 62 linear inches (length + width + depth). Bags over either of these two parameters will be charged $75.
Carry-on bags must be able to fit in the overhead bin and can be no larger than 24″ height x 16″ width x 10″ depth (including handles, wheels and straps) and no heavier than 35 pounds. See below for baggage fees:
As you can see from the chart, Frontier charges $35 for a carry-on bag and $30 for your first checked bag. Prices go up from there.
If you arrive at the gate with a carry-on bag over the allowable limits, you’ll pay extra to gate-check the bag.
7. How do Frontier customers view the airline?
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Frontier came in next to last in the American Customer Satisfaction Index report that was released in April 2019:
|Airline||2019 Score||2018 Score|
|Delta Air Lines||75||74|
Team Clark’s Sally McDonald flew Frontier from Atlanta to San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is what she said about the experience:
“The best part: No delays! (In fact, both flights landed early.) The worst part: The fees! Our overall experience was good, and the fares are too cheap to pass up! When booking with a discount airline, we always factor the fees and extras into the ticket before we book to make sure we’re actually saving money. We also make sure we’re willing to sit in less-than-comfortable seats for the entire flight.”
8. Is Frontier family-friendly to fly?
If you choose to pay for seating assignments, flying Frontier can be a breeze. Also, families with small children, take heart: When you’re traveling with a little one, a stroller and car seat can be checked free of charge.
The airline also has a Kid Zone that lets families sit together at a discounted price. Typically this will be toward the back of the plane.
Frontier offers a Kids Fly Free feature on select flights. Under the Discount Den program, which we talk about below, one kid under age 15 can fly for free for every adult Discount Den fare purchased. It’s only good for flights with the Kids Fly Free logo.
Children onboard also get collectible trading cards to hold their attention during the flight.
9. How to save on Frontier Airlines
- Avoid baggage fees: If you can pack light, that’s the #1 way to save money on Frontier Airlines. Your first checked bag will cost you $$.
- Pay bag fees online: If you must bring bags, pay online. You save as much as 50% by paying for checked bags on Frontier.com.
- Join the Discount Den program: If you fly often, save big by signing up for the Discount Den program, which gives you exclusive access to discounted airline tickets. Cost: $59.99 a year.