Frontier Airlines is slashing ticket prices by an average of 12 percent – but that’s more than offset by new and increased add-on fees and charges for everything from carry-on that doesn’t fit under your seat to reserved seating.
It makes it more difficult – and more stressful – for us travelers to compare the total cost of a ticket, including comparing the total cost of various add-on fees that can make a bargain ticket on a low-cost airline more expensive than a comparable ticket on a so-called full fare carrier. Simply, it makes the total cost of a ticket far more than the advertised price.
Frontier has jumped on board the a la carte menu theme followed by its low-cost competitors Spirit Airlines and Allegiant. Frontier got the lowest rating for passenger satisfaction out of five low-cost airlines surveyed for the annual poll by widely-respected J. D. Power (Spirit and Allegiant were not in the poll).
So here are the new and increased charges that will make your Frontier ticket less of a bargain:
Carry-on: $25 if you pay when booking the ticket, $50 at the gate if the attendant tells you it won’t fit under the seat. Which means that carry-on is more expensive than checking a bag! Delta, American, United, VirginAmerica and JetBlue do not charge for carry-on.
Checked bag: $20 when paid for in advance. A second bag costs $30. If the bag needs to be gate-checked because it exceeds overhead size, that’s another $50. Delta, American, VirginAmerica and JetBlue do not charge for gate-checked bags. JetBlue and Southwest fly the first checked bag FREE while the others charge $25 to $50.
Seat selection: Anywhere from $3 to $100, depending on what you want. That includes choosing to sit together so your nine-year-old who is terrified of flying can sit next to mommy or daddy, honeymooners, even an elderly passenger with a caretaker. United got slammed last year for charging family groups to sit together, but that isn’t stopping Frontier.
Thirsty? That will be $2 for bottled water or soft drink, $5 to$7 for beer or wine. Do you know any other airline that charges for water? I don’t.
Frontier will also offer a new higher-priced group of fares, Called Classic Plus, that includes many of these add-on coast such as advance seat assignment, a checked bag, a carry-on bag, and free drinks.
Or, you can join the new Frontier’s Discount Den, that provides discounts on baggage fees. It’s free to join through June 30, 2015, after which Frontier will start charging a membership fee, so join now to get some freebies while they last. A similar membership program at Spirit currently costs $60 a year, so figure that’s about what Frontier will be charging.
For even more on the new fees and other fee changes, Frontier has its very own FAQ page.
What’s next? Charging to use the bathroom? European low-cost airline RyanAir threatened to do that a couple of years ago, but got such bad press that it backed down.