We are looking at flying our family down to Orlando in a few months, and so I was investigating different flying options. Driving is also a possibility, but it’s 13+ hours and hey, I’ve already been to most of the counties between here and there!
The classic airlines are all charging hundreds of dollars per person – even Delta’s $233 flight would be nearly TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS for our entire family… Southwest is just as bad. Award availability anywhere isn’t there for 8, and I’ve burned a bunch of my miles lately
(SEE ALSO: The worst usage of 100,000 Skymiles EVER?)
Flying Frontier Airlines
So I looked at flying Frontier Airlines. Frontier just added 4 non-stops from Cincinnati (to Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia) as part of the 42 new routes they just announced, but they already have a once-daily between Cincinnati and Orlando. They had some pretty amazing fare deals
Fares are higher over the weekend, but extending by a day or two got things pretty cheap. They actually had one of those flights at $19 when I first looked, but even $68 * 8 is only $544 total, which could possibly be paid for with airline credits from the Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige or using Barclay Arrival miles.
I also looked at low-cost carrier Allegiant Air, but the cheapest tickets on Allegiant were about $150 roundtrip, and they also fly out of the “other” Orlando airport (SFB).
Fighting Frontier Fees with a family
But Frontier is an ultra low cost carrier. So that $68 roundtrip isn’t QUITE $68 roundtrip… And that’s where you guys come in – I’m looking for anyone that’s flown Frontier Airlines and can speak to the best way to handle the fees, especially if you’ve flown as a family. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far:
- Picking your seats, at least on these flights, is $12 one-way
- Checking a bag is $30
- A carry-on bag is $35(!)
- As I understand it, you are allowed to bring on a carry-on bag for free as long as it fits under the seat in front of you – the $35 is if you have a larger carry-on that would go in an overhead bin
- No complimentary snacks or beverages, right?
Does that sound right? What are the best tips?
We flew Frontier once before we were expert travel hackers, and didn’t know anything about the seat selection – and our family of 7 (at the time) ended up sitting in 3 different groups, which was… interesting (to say the least)
What are your best tips for flying on Frontier Airlines as a family?
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We’ve flown Frontier as a family 3 times, the most recent time my husband said, “How about we don’t fly Frontier anymore?” I don’t mind it, mostly because I’m cheap. I was looking today at $15 (!!!) flights from here to FL for Feb./March. Anyways, tips: we pack full size LL Bean backpacks for everyone, even the 4 year old, roll the clothes and stuff it and it gets under the seat just fine. You’re also allowed a free checked stroller, so buy a stroller bag and throw a bunch of stuff in it. If you pay for a carry-on it will say so on your boarding pass, so you can’t sneak it past them. I’ve never seen then stop anyone though. No snacks, but I’m pretty sure they served water. I have always paid for seat selection, because I’m anxious like that, but I think you could not pay and just bother people until they switch seats. Lastly, I would wait for a sale if you can, I think those fares should go down.
Not sure there are any silver bullets with Frontier. If I were in such a situation, I’d try to get everyone packed into 3-4 checked bags and then only bring small bags on the plane. With the high carry-on fee, I’d avoid taking anything on board that would even come close to being too big for under-seat storage.
Brandi mentioned some good tips. Water is served in cups for free, but they charge for snacks. If you have a stroller or car seat that you’re going to check, buy a bag for it and then stuff it with something like your winter coats. For a one week Orlando trip, we’ll check 1 bag and fill it to the max 50lbs. We only take backpacks on the plane because those are free – each person might stuff 1 outfit or at least a swimsuit into their pack. Since it’s Orlando, we stay at a timeshare property where we’ll have a washer/dryer in the villa if we need to do laundry (buy Tide detergent at any dollar store when you get there). Tip – if you go during a slower season you can save lots of money booking these places cheap via sites like http://allears.net/acc/faq_hot.htm#offers. I can vouch for the Sheraton Vistana properties – Vistana Resort is 5 mins closer to WDW, but Vistana Villages is a tad nicer in my opinion (and they have a pirate ship-themed pool for kids). If you sit through a 90-120 min. timeshare presentation they’ll even give you a bunch of SPG points….just don’t buy, no matter what they say.
I’m interested in this too. I just got an email about $19 each way flights, which is very tempting. My husband flew Frontier a few years ago for work (worked for a super cheap company) and said it was the worst flight of his life. He said his seat was literally shaking as if it were going to be detached from the plane. Scary. I would try it at least once though anyway but he is adamant that it’s a horrible airline and would definitely prefer to pay more for a flight using another airline.
I still want to try it.
TravMom, I was actually very impressed by the quality of their seats. I was expecting, for the price, something worn down and awful. One flight was a flexible plastic type material, not uncomfortable. Another flight we had upholstered seats, that were in excellent condition. Both cases they looked almost new, there was some trash on the floor, but I’ve seen that on AA and WN flights too. What I don’t like are the people and the attitudes of the FA. I did go ahead and book flights for us on frontier in Feb, $100 total round trip for 3 people. Just lower your expectations to expect the worst and you might be surprised.
Thanks Brandi, I just asked my husband about them again and he said, “never again. Y’all can go.” (Meaning me and our kids). He said it was the equivalent of riding in a very old car, like a car from the 60’s. I’d be fine with that if I can actually get the $19 each way tickets (that was a 1-day only sale). The last time I actually tried to take advantage of a sale like this the tickets ended up MUCH higher than the advertised sale. The sale dates ended up being only for tues & wed. The 1-day sale I mentioned earlier actually included some weekend days! I’d test it out.
Frontier is hit or miss. They’ve gotten worse in the last couple of years in my opinion – very bare bones and similar to spirit. With young families, the seating is a nightmare. Last year, we had a lap baby and they wouldn’t let us chose a seat until we arrived at the airport. Because of this, we were all separated, which is kind of a problem when you have other young children. You then have to figure out how to trade seats with a bunch of people and look like your irresponsible – but it is t your fault. I wouldn’t fly frontier again unless I had to and would try very hard not to ever fly with my family again.
Sounds like Frontier is not the way to go with small children
For flying Frontier or Allegiant (I have used both, with pleasure)
1. Pack as little as you will actually need to have, then look at it and ask yourself: Can I UPS/FedEx this cheaper than taking luggage with me in ONE big box to where I am going? If so, call where you are going and ask them to hold a package for you and ship it AHEAD OF TIME. Especially if you can do a load of laundry half way through your trip so take half as many clothes.
2. Carry a refillable bottle for water for each person, fill it in Airport after security.
3. Take small entertaining things that easily go under the eat in a small napsack for the kiddoes.
4. Remind yourself of what you save and enjoy a relatively short time in an airplane to go a long distance.
*** it’s easy to fly these guys and save money, but if you pile on charges, why bother? Do this strategically and save BIG.
ALSO, I have found that if you are near an airport they serve, buying your tickets at the counter AHEAD OF TIME can save a fair bit of money. I have done this with Allegiant. They hate it and you need to find out when the counter is actually open, but you can do it and save a lot. For here, for example, 10a-12noon a couple days a week is the window. But I can save up to 15-18 bucks!
I just flew to Denver on Fronteir with my husband and five children, so I hear you. We all wore our biggest clothes and coats and each brought a backpack or small bag. No checked or carry on for a two week trip to the snow. When I checked in online, we were all seated together, so I’m glad I didn’t pay for seats. We brought two bags of food. We also carried on two pairs of ski boots. All was well.
If you like a cattle wagon and rock hard seats that don’t recline. Not for me
Maybe seats that don’t recline will solve the problem of who owns the seat recline 😛