Frontier to Charge Fees for Carry-On Bags and Drinks and Reduce Mileage Earnings — But…

An aircraft operated by Frontier Airlines waits at the gate at the international airport in Portland, Oregon for its flight to Denver in July of 2008. Photograph by FlyerTalk member aw. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by aw.

In its transformation towards becoming an “ultra-low-cost carrier”. Frontier Airlines intends to begin charging fees to those passengers who carry their baggage aboard the aircraft, as well as charge $1.99 for all non-alcoholic beverages effective as of July 1, 2013 — except for water, which will reportedly still be complimentary. Frontier Airlines will be changing its EarlyReturns frequent flier loyalty program mileage accrual rate on Basic airfares from 50 percent to 25 percent of miles flown — also effective as of  July 1, 2013. However — despite some of the sensationalism you might have seen regarding these changes in policies — there are a few things you should know:

  • If you are an Ascent or Summit tier level member of the EarlyReturns frequent flier loyalty program, or if you purchase any of the highest classes of airfare for travel on Frontier Airlines — Classic Plus and Classic — you are exempt from both the baggage fee and drink fee policies to be implemented by Frontier Airlines, as your baggage allowance and non-alcoholic beverages will still continue to be included with the airfare
  • You will be charged either $20.00 for your first checked bag when checking in at the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines or $25.00 at the airport when you purchase one of the two lowest classes of airfare for travel on Frontier Airlines — Basic or Economy — and you will be charged $20.00 for your first checked bag
  • Similar to Spirit Airlines, if you purchase the Basic airfare, you will be charged up to $100.00 when you carry a bag aboard the aircraft and use the overhead compartment — unless you check in at the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines, in which case you will be charged $25.00, which is the lowest fee; whereas if you purchase the Economy airfare, no charge is incurred to you
  • If the bag you carry aboard the aircraft can fit under the seat in front of you, no fee is assessed and you are not required to pay
  • You will be charged $1.99 for your non-alcoholic beverage when you purchase one of the two lowest classes of airfare for travel on Frontier Airlines — Basic or Economy — but you will receive a full can of soda or juice; you get free refills if you choose coffee; and some of the non-alcoholic beverages to be offered will supposedly be improved, such as premium tea and coffee

Economy airfares are purchased through the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines; while Basic airfares are purchased through external booking channels other than the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines. By the way, no definitive date has been set yet for when the fees for bags carried aboard the aircraft by passengers will officially become effective. This is an attempt by Frontier Airlines to reduce costs such as the payment of distribution fees on airline tickets sold at Internet web sites other than through the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines; while attempting to increase revenue through ancillary fees — and it is difficult to argue against the success of ancillary fees for airlines. As much as FlyerTalk members are not happy about these “enhancements” — and neither am I, for that matter — I do believe that Frontier Airlines is at least striving to attempt to strike a delicate balance between being an “ultra-low-cost carrier” by providing low airfares to some of its customers while still offering value to its EarlyReturns frequent flier loyalty program members and its customers who are willing to pay a higher airfare or book through the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines. It does not appear to me that Frontier Airlines is attempting to fully emulate Spirit Airlines or Ryanair in regurgitating its notorious reputation pertaining to fees — yet, anyway. Time will tell as to whether the new policies to be implemented by Frontier Airlines will be successful — as well as whether Frontier Airlines will one day “cross the line” and go too far with attempts at changing the policies of reducing costs while increasing revenues. Thank goodness Frontier Airlines did not announce that change fees will be increased, as I am not really in the mood to write yet another song parody at any time in the immediate future…

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