Today’s guest post comes from my sister, who wanted to share her experiences flying Frontier Airlines.
Recently, my 15-year-old informed me that she would like to visit her cousin in Cincinnati (PWaC – that’s me!) during her school’s President’s Week break. We would be flying from Sacramento, and my husband found what looked at the outset like a pretty good deal from Frontier Airlines, which he promptly booked. Our family typically flies Southwest, since we have found it to be family-friendly, so this was a departure for us (pun intended).
(SEE ALSO: The Southwest Cancellation Policy Helped My Family Book a Free Flight)
Carry-on and checked bag drama
After my husband bought the tickets, he quickly realized that somehow we had paid for two carry-ons, when in reality we only wanted one checked bag there and back. We also discovered that we did indeed have our one checked bag, but ONLY to Cincinnati. Somehow, those two carry-ons had not only been added to our return trip, but the checked bag had disappeared. To paint a picture for you, when leaving Sacramento, we would check our large bag, and then coming back, we’d then have to leave our large bag with my extended family, acquire two acceptable-sized (according to Frontier) carry-ons in Cincinnati, and then carry those with us to the plane, in addition to our personal items. To say that we were not keen on that scenario would be an understatement.
(SEE ALSO: Keeping track of 17 pieces of luggage at the airport)
Trying to sort it out with Frontier (it didn’t go well)
My husband ended up calling Frontier a few hours after the initial booking, thinking that he would just explain the situation and could have the two carry-ons switched to one checked bag. No big deal, right? As it turns out—yes, big deal. The Frontier agent would not budge and told my husband that not only could she not help in any way, she was definitively unable to remove the carry-on charges. We were told that once you’ve paid any extra fees, that charge cannot be reversed, no matter if a mistake has been made. My husband is adamant that there is no way he would have deliberately checked the box to add one carry-on, let alone two. Therefore, he’s convinced that it somehow was selected by default, and he didn’t catch it before checkout. It would have been so easy to change this on the agent’s end, but she was dismissive and unwilling to hear any explanation. We briefly debated disputing the charges on our card, but the trip was close enough to happening that we weren’t willing to bank on not going and losing out on that money.
All in all, what we had considered to be a relatively cheap flight ended up costing us more than if we had just gone with Southwest, which would have allowed us to bring *two* checked bags for free (both ways, which I previously did not think needed to be clarified), as well as two carry-ons. Said carry-ons would also not be so vigilantly monitored at the gate, like Frontier does with the “personal items” they allow.
The Bottom Line
You may be asking yourself at this point, did we go through with leaving our large bag in Cincinnati and buying two carry-ons for our return home? No, no, we did not. We had to pay a not-insignificant fee to have a large checked bag upon returning to Sacramento. What I ended up doing was packing a large, empty backpack in our large bag and then using it as a carry-on for the flight back home. We only bought a couple of items in Cincinnati and didn’t really need the extra backpack (and it was extra weight to lug around airports on two different legs of our flight), but I was determined to get something out of our forced purchase of carry-ons! And we still could have acquired yet another carry-on that we could’ve filled up with random items to bring home to our family! The possibilities are endless!
So I now ask Frontier Airlines: Was it truly worth the $150+ to then have customers so upset that they vow to use any other airline but yours? Our family travels a decent amount, and my husband, especially, loves hopping on a flight for a quick two-day getaway—all of those future trips would have been much more money in Frontier’s proverbial pocket. I remind Frontier of how simple it would have been to change the carry-ons to a checked bag; it probably would have taken less than five minutes. I very much hope that they enjoy the additional fees squeezed from our finances for this trip, because we will never be booking another Frontier flight again.
(PWaC – I don’t know how Frontier managed to mess up the bags on this flight. User error is a possibility, but it’s also worth noting that I have found Frontier’s website to be very clunky. And they also make a lot of their money from their fees, so maybe it’s a bit of a dark pattern? You definitely have to be super careful when booking with Frontier to make sure you’re only paying for what you want to be paying for. One thing Kerry didn’t mention in her review was that both of these flights required an overnight in Denver, which was obviously not ideal. I’ve had good success personally flying Frontier, but I would hesitate to fly them if I had to connect, since they don’t have a lot of options when things go wrong)
What has your experience been with flying Frontier? Leave it in the comments
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Why didn’t you cancel the ticket? you were within the 24 hour free cancellation period, right?
100% this comment. Seems like your sister is not that savvy of a traveler… this was completely avoidable on her end.
It’s good advice for next time should they find themselves in the same situation
Buyer beware, it is often a case of bait and switch. So called LCC (Low Cost Carriers) are only low cost if you follow all of their policies, detail your additional costs and avoid them.
Flying full service air lines, even on basic economy fares doesn’t eliminate all of the services that would otherwise be add-ons with the budget air lines.
The budget airlines also believe that you are willing to forsake any semblance of customer service (sic) for savings.
The last and only time I flew Frontier, more than ten years ago, it was because I was at DEN, had just missed an AA flight, and would be able to get home that evening only if I flew Frontier.
This was so long ago that they were still selling some kind of upgraded product that came with free drinks, a bigger seat, and DirecTV. So I paid the $40 (or however much it was) to sit up front. Wasn’t a bad experience.
But I can’t imagine why anyone would choose them today. Their prices aren’t even competitive unless one is willing to waste an entire day flying a routing that looks like it was chosen at random.
Southwest sucks too! Why dont you fly a real airline?
What is that even supposed to mean?
You get what you pay for.
An entire article article blaming Frontier, while brushing aside the user error portion. Even when you bring up user error as a potential reason, it is the website’s fault.
The Frontier website has its flaws, but before submitting payment, it allows you to view all information (passengers, bundles, seats, bags, extras). I just walked through a sample booking and when you select the carry-on bag option, there is a box that defaults to “same for return flight”. If you want something different on the way back, you have to manually deselect the box and adjust accordingly. For the checked bag, the default is “No Bags” with the same box checked for the return flight. Stated differently, it takes more effort to have differing bag selections.
As alluded to by rjb, the flight could have been cancelled and rebooked within 24 hours. I am also surprised they did not reach out to you for advice, following their call with Frontier.
I get the frustration, as making this type of mistake stinks. Especially when it costs you additional time and money. But to write about “why our family will never fly Frontier again” because of user error seems extreme. It seems more appropriate to write an article titled, “why my husband is no longer allowed to book Frontier flights for our family”.
My experience with Frontier has surprisingly exceeded expectations. But the key is setting the appropriate expectations and recognizing the low cost may result in not reaching a destination. Fortunately, I have managed some really cheap ski trips to Denver since our local regional airport has direct flights on Frontier. Round trip flights for $60 make it easier to stomach the checked baggage fees.
I am not trying to defend Frontier here, as customer service goes a long way. At the very least, they could have suggested canceling and rebooking instead of outright rejecting the request. But in my opinion, I would be a lot more upset about an overnight in Denver in each direction than the baggage fee situation.
Flown Frontier once, and had a connecting flight issue (too long of a story here), and it’s similar to Spirit. Hint: don’t fly with any bags or a connection and you’ll fare okay.
Anyone can make a booking mistake. The customers are not the experts – agents are and need to treat polite customers like they’d want to be treated and fix an easy fix.
Will always fly the cheapest option when I have REPEAT – NO BAGS – NO CONNECTING FLIGHT.
It is the worst air line and now worse that it does not have a customer service by phone only by email social media and even so they do not solve you, I had to make a complaint to get my money back and it took me 3 days to search, believe me they are not useful.
They’re only good for Short Quick flights. One carryon.
Right. I have had success flying Frontier, but like you said, only on short direct flights. I would be very hesitant about flying them with a connection. I usually just pack my backpack as a personal item, but I’ve also paid for a carryon as well a few times.