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I have flown Frontier Airlines only once before, back in the summer of 2011. We were heading to Denver to visit my in-laws who were living there at the time. This was back before I discovered miles and points and before I had much experience flying. I remember we didn’t really understand the concept of an ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC) where you have to pay for just about everything. My in-laws had purchased our tickets, but didn’t tell us (or I didn’t understand) that we were likely not to have seats together. So at check-in, our family of 7 (at the time) was assigned seats randomly throughout the plane.
Pleading for some help from the gate agents (our then-youngest was only 2 1/2 at the time), we did imagine to get switched around into a group of 3 near the back of the plane and 2 groups of 2 a row or two apart near the front. So we assigned my wife with 2 of our kids, while I sat next to one and across the aisle and behind my 2 “most responsible” kids. Emirates First Class this was not 🙂
The thing I remember most about this flight is the grandmotherly lady that was sitting next to my 2 sons and how incredibly sweet she was, even to the point of buying them cookies off the in-flight menu.
Although we have considered flying Frontier as a family a few times since then, we’ve never had to do it. More recently, I have a trip planned out to Colorado Springs where I will be flying Frontier on my return trip to Cincinnati (I’m flying Delta on the way out). This was where I was able to get a $50 voucher for Frontier schedule change compensation when they changed my flight from the evening to the morning.
How to get the best seat on Frontier
I read an article from earlier this year by Travis at One Mile at a Time talking about how he snagged an exit row aisle seat for free on Frontier. Basically he just didn’t check in until the very last possible moment. Frontier fills the seats of people checking in from the back of the plane to the front, and so by not checking in until the last second, he was able to get the “best seat on the plane”
So with an upcoming Frontier trip coming, I thought about trying this. I’m a few days out from my trip, and currently my seatmap looks like this
There are only 5 “premium” seats left and while I’m probably not going to pay for a seat, I’m also not super excited about spending 4 hours and change in a middle seat if my scheme doesn’t work out 🙂
The problem with trying this crazy Frontier scheme
The huge problem with this (pointed out by Travis in his article) is that I would run the risk of being involuntarily denied boarding. If everyone else checks in and the flight is oversold, then I might get bumped. And since Frontier only flies one flight per day on this route (like most of their routes), I could possibly be stuck in Denver another day.
[SEE ALSO: The HUGE problem flying Frontier]
Now this would be annoying but probably not the end of the world. Frontier’s involuntary denied boarding procedures say that
If you are involuntarily denied boarding, we will give you a written statement that describes your rights and explains how we determine boarding priority for an oversold flight. If there are fewer seats available than people who have checked in, generally, the last customer to check-in would be subject to removal.
Their contract of carriage (per airfare watchdog) says
A passenger who has been denied boarding, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, will be transported on the next available flight on which space is available and at no additional cost to the passenger. If onward transportation cannot be provided on Frontier’s own route system within three hours, Frontier will attempt to arrange for transportation, at no additional cost to the passenger, on the first available flight of another airline with which Frontier has a ticketing and baggage agreement. If a passenger who has been denied boarding voluntarily or involuntarily wishes to modify the travel date, the ticket will be honored for travel within 72 hours at no additional cost. Passengers denied boarding will be compensated with an electronic travel certificate good for transportation on the airline.
Only problem with that? As far as I can tell, there ISN’T an airline with which Frontier has a ticketing and baggage agreement (emphasis mine). Now thanks to miles and points, I at least have a decent likelihood of being able to get a hotel and/or a separate flight home. (Or at least a bunch of steaks in the Denver Airport thanks to my American Express Platinum Priority Pass benefit!)
So, that leads me wondering what to do or if I should bother trying this out in an attempt to get a better seat.
Anyone have any experience with either a) involuntary denied boarding on Frontier or b) trying to delay check-in to get a better seat on Frontier?
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I tried this on Spirit. Checked in one minute before checkin closed. Didn’t work, because the plane wasn’t full… even though the flight had been sold out earlier in the day, the flights were so cheap that at least ten people no-showed.
I think a better strategy is to checkin close to last — maybe with 10-15 mins remaining. Look at the seat map; if you see empty ‘bad’ seats then just pony up for the exit row. It’s super cheap anyway. If the exit row is all that’s left, you’re golden.
Hey Dan, I’m a fan of Frontier for the ridiculously low fares they offer to many places out of Cleveland but as far as their seating goes there’s hardly any difference between regular seats and “premium”. A couple weeks ago I went to Disney for the day because flights were $40 roundtrip. On my morning outbound I decided to splurge the $45 for a seat up front and maybe sleep a little since my normal wake up time is about noon. Well I was disappointed to find that these seats didn’t have recline either, only extra legroom over normal seats. So it’s just my opinion but if you’re risking not flying for a chance at a better seat the risk probably isn’t worth the reward.
Yep! Did this a few weeks ago and it worked fine – but with a 4 hour flight the penalties of “losing the game” are too great. I’d just buy a $6 seat and call it a day personally. On the other hand, if it were a 1 hour flight I’d probably risk it.
Pay the 6$ if you are short or pay the 20$ if you are tall.