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A few weeks ago I wrote about my plan to get a good seat on Frontier without paying anything for seat selection. If you have flown Frontier before, you probably know that they charge you to pick any seat and are very pushy in their online checkin for you to pick a seat. If you choose not to pay for a seat, you’ll get a seat assigned to you when you check in (starting at 24 hours before the flight)
The basics of how to get a good seat on Frontier
My plan on how to get a good seat on Frontier was hatched after noticing and reading reports that when Frontier starts assigning seats when people check in at the 24 hour period, they start at the back of the plane and assign those seats. So (the theory went), you could get a good seat on Frontier by delaying your check-in until the last possible moment.
But…. would it work? I had a recent flight on Frontier so resolved to test my theory on how to get a good seat on Frontier. I was flying by myself, so didn’t have to worry about flying with my family
Did my plan on how to get a good seat on Frontier work?
I had a 9:30 a.m. flight on Frontier – here’s how my seat map looked at 9:30 the day before (T-24 hours)
Still plenty of seats available – and then here’s a larger view of what it looked like at 5pm the night before (T-16 hours before flight)
Tragically, I had to wake up at 3:45 a.m. in order to catch my ride up to Denver (the person driving the car had a much earlier flight), but here’s what the seatmap looked like then (T-6 hours).
Still plenty of good seats left and you can see Frontier filling up the plane from the rear. Would my plan to get a good seat on Frontier work?
I just hung out in the Denver airport for a bit – at 6:21, 3 hours before takeoff, here’s what we looked like.
At 7:50 a.m. (90 minutes before takeoff), we were down to 5 exit row seats, 4 front of the plane seats, and 2 back of the plane windows. I was just hanging out in the airport, working on some blog posts and monitoring my seatmap. One important distinction is that I couldn’t go through security yet because I didn’t have a boarding pass, which was mildly annoying.
8E went next, and then 10D just after 8 a.m. A few minutes later, the other 2 seats in row 10 went. That left us 5 exit row seats and 2 window seats in the back. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my odds to get a good seat on Frontier for free.
30A (one of the 2 window seats in the back) was filled at 8:11 a.m., and then 12A, B and C at 8:19 a.m., leaving only 3 seats left.
The downsides to this plan to get a good seat on Frontier
It’s at this point I should point out 2 of the risks of this plan to get a good Frontier seat without paying. I’ve already mentioned that you don’t get a boarding pass until you check-in, so you’re stuck behind security. Also, Frontier has a HARD deadline of checking in 60 minutes before flight time online or through a kiosk or 45 minutes at the counter. If you miss that deadline (even by a minute), you will MISS your flight
The second risk of this plan is that if the flight is oversold, you run the risk of being denied boarding. In my case, I was okay running that risk because I was flying by myself and also had nowhere to be the whole day. Plus, I could check by trying to buy a ticket that there were still seats available to purchase.
In any case, I had finally decided I’d waited enough, and I was hungry for an omelet at the Priority Pass DEN lounge – the Timberline Steak House, so I checked in.
Naturally I got seat 30E 😀
Still, I was happy with my seat – it was a completely full flight and I was glad to not have to sit in a middle seat, even if I was further back than I wanted to be. The flight was late, which I knew because I used my handy trick to determine if your flight is going to be delayed. As I was boarding, I asked the guy in 10D (one of the last seats to be assigned) when he had checked in. He said he checked in that morning and did not PAY for a seat.
So it seems like the optimal strategy to get a good seat on Frontier for free is to check in but perhaps wait until the back of the plane is filled up but not wait QUITE as long as I did
I’d love to hear other comments from people who’ve tried to get a good seat on Frontier with this strategy – leave your data points in the comments