As a Denver based flyer, I’m constantly being
tormented tempted by Frontier Airlines’ $29 one-way fares. While they’re not the most glamorous of airlines, they understand the importance of knowing their target customer and communicating their value proposition. Unfortunately, the “bare fare” pricing they offer also comes with an avalanche of fees which can quickly add up if you’re not prepared. Today, I’d like to give you a few tips on how to beat Frontier at their own game and get where you need to go in the most economical fashion.
When purchasing a fare on Frontier, you are given the opportunity to pay for a checked bag or carry-on at the time of booking online. Outside of the summer travel season and the holidays, when you pay for your bags at time of booking you can get your carry-on for $30 and 1st checked bag for $25. During the summer and holidays they are $35 each. If you wait until check-in online, or God forbid until you get to the airport, prepare to pay more and more the closer you get to walking down the jet way.
These are Frontier’s prices beginning 8/13/17. The only difference between today’s pricing and pricing beginning in August is that you will have to pay $3 more beginning 8/13 if you purchase a checked bag online after booking, but prior to check-in.
What I like to do to save money is bring a backpack on the flight since you are allowed one personal item for free and tuck it under the seat in front of me. I’m 6’2″ and sometimes having a bag at my feet can get a bit annoying on longer flights. I will also book the Stretch Economy row (see my review of Stretch Economy here) or the bulkhead row for an added fee. Personally, I don’t want to pay for a checked bag AND an upgraded seat, so I’ll put some money on more leg room and bring a backpack. If you book the bulkhead, you have to put your belongings in the overhead bin according to FAA regulations.
If you absolutely have to bring more with you, use the method mentioned above and pay to check a bag at the time of booking. Don’t wait until after. Or, you can do what my co-worker did a few months ago and send your spouse ahead of you on another airline where she got free checked bags 😉
THE WORKS and THE PERKS
The Works and The Perks packages are available to purchase on top of your bare fare. These packages offer a variety of services that can save you money, depending on your situation. Here is a breakdown of the benefits:
As you can see the differences come from being able to get a refund and change flights with The Works. Unfortunately, you can only retroactively add The Perks to your reservation after booking. The Works must be added at time of booking. I like this benefit because you can cancel your Frontier flight and rebook if a better fare becomes available. Frontier has the tendency of lowering prices about 2-3 weeks out from departure.
The Works package starts at $49 each way, but the fee is refundable if you cancel the ticket. In most cases, if you are checking a bag, bringing a carry-on and/or assigning yourself a seat, just go ahead a purchase The Works for flexibility and price protection. You can even select Stretch seating at no additional cost if those seats are open.
Discount Den & Frontier Early Returns
Discount Den is the discount fare club which you can join for around $50 per year. My dad signed up for this and seemed to have good success in finding cheaper fares when booking in advance. Pair the Discount Den fare with The Works package and you could be looking at a very good value compared to what you would get for the same price on a traditional carrier.
Early Returns is the frequent flyer program of Frontier. Now, I have to admit that this program is extremely basic and offers very little return on loyalty compared to most, but, they do send out promo codes to their members regularly, which could save you up to 50%. Their air miles expire quickly and redemptions are pretty expensive, but the promo codes can save you a few bucks. On a side note, don’t waste your time signing up for their credit card. If you want to fly for free, there are much better cards out there.
Buy Your Tickets at the Airport
Shout out to commenter Mark D. for reminding me that you can also save money on the Customer Interface Charge (CIC) which is imposed for online bookings with Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier, by purchasing your ticket at the airport. Now, this doesn’t mean you should wait until the day of your flight to purchase your ticket, but if you’re passing through an airport, stop by the Frontier ticketing desk and save roughly $18 by purchasing in person. You can read more about the CIC and data points from others on this FlyerTalk thread
Food and Beverage
Unless you enjoy paying for a small cup of soda, I suggest bringing your own food and drink on the plane. Frontier will serve you a free cup of room-temp water, but good luck getting anything else without paying. Snack bundles are available, but can be overpriced.
Recently, major domestic carriers like United have introduced “Basic Economy Fares” which don’t include carry-on baggage or an assigned seat. Oddly enough, though, their prices have remained the same despite the loss in benefits. United will now charge you for both carry-on and checked luggage when you purchase that Basic fare, similar to Frontier. Don’t pay more money (in most cases) to fly United, when you won’t earn miles toward elite status and you’ll get treated like a second class customer? Next time you’re booking a flight, check Frontier’s pricing with The Works package to see how it compares. At the end of the day, if award space opens on your airline of choice, you can always cancel.
Again, I’m not the biggest fan of this airline, but it serves a purpose. Do you have any tips on how to save when flying Frontier?