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Are Frontier’s Stretch Seats Really Worth the Upgrade?

Are Frontier’s Stretch Seats Really Worth the Upgrade?
Taylor Rains

Frontier Airlines is known for its low fares and cute animals on every tail. Like other budget carriers, Denver-based Frontier runs an a-la-carte business model, charging for everything except a personal item and a seat from point A to point B. Food, soda, water, alcohol, seat choice, carry on bags, and checked bags all cost extra, although, in my experience, the flight and extra amenities will still cost less than a full-service airline such as Delta or United. Nevertheless, the ancillary costs can be a pain, but some may be worth the money, specifically the “Stretch Seats.”


What Is the Stretch Seat?

Stretch Seating is Frontier Airlines’ version of economy plus. The seat is made by Acro Aircraft and has been evolving over the years, making it more comfortable than when it was first introduced. In its early stages, the seat was all about legroom but has since improved to offer more padding, larger tray tables, and full recline. However, when buying the seat, you are buying only that – the seat – not any special privileges from the flight attendants such as free snacks and beverages.

Each of Frontier’s A319, A320, and A321 aircraft have been fitted with Stretch Seats, which are located behind each set of exit doors and in the first few rows of the plane, allowing passengers to get seated and leave quickly before and after the flight. Most of the airline’s layouts have three rows of seats in the front of the aircraft, while layout two on the A320 has four. It is important to note that there is a limited number of Stretch Seats on each plane, ranging from 24-36, so if you are interested in a little extra comfort, then be sure to book in advance.

Price Difference

Unless you are lucky enough to get a Stretch Seat for free during check-in (which has miraculously happened to me twice now), you will have to pay a fee, and the charge is per leg, not roundtrip. According to Frontier’s website, the prices range from $16 to $56 depending on when and where you reserve the seat. This is the breakdown:

  • During booking on and up to 24 hours before the flight – from $16 (from $5 for a regular seat)
  • Web check-in – from $18 (from $7 for a regular seat)
  • Call center – from $56 (from $16 for a regular seat)
  • Airport ticket counter or kiosk – from $56 (from $16 for a regular seat)

The seat has a pretty hefty fare compared to regular seats, which cost less than half. In all the purchases I’ve made with Frontier, the price for the Stretch Seats varied. The seats on my flight from Las Vegas to Orlando ranged from $66 to $88, while the ones on my trip to Los Angeles from Cincinnati cost up to $94. The cheapest I’ve seen is $33 for the exit-row Stretch Seats on a short hop from Dallas to Denver.


Frontier Stretch Seat Economy Comparison

Stretch Seat vs. Regular Seat

I’ve sat in both types of Frontier seats, and the difference between the two is very noticeable, especially on long-haul flights. The Stretch Seat’s recline and padding made sleeping much easier, and my 6’4″ friend was a lot more comfortable with room to stretch his legs. Not only did my back not cramp up, but I was actually able to get some work done on my laptop. I’m sure for anyone who has ever flown in Frontier’s regular seats, you are familiar with the small, shoebox-size tray tables that have just enough room for a drink and snack, but not much else. So for those of us that need to work at 36,000 feet or prefer to watch movies on a larger screen, the Stretch Seat’s full-size tray tables make it possible.


Stretch Seat vs. Big Front Seat

Frontier’s Stretch Seat is typically compared to Spirit’s Big Front Seats, which is trying to be the “business class” of ultra-low-cost (if that is even possible). I’ve flown in both, and I personally lean towards Stretch Seats. The reason is that they actually recline, while the Big Front Seats are pre-reclined, which is still not enough for sleeping. Furthermore, Spirit’s seats have a stationary headrest that is uncomfortable on my neck, and honestly, I wish it folded in to provide a pillow (similar to many Southwest seats) or was not there at all. The only thing I like about the Big Front Seat is the width and the fact that they are two-seater rows, but other than that, I think Stretch Seats take the cake.

Related: The Big Front Seat Is That’s (Kind of) Close to Business Class

Bottom Line

When flying on a low-cost carrier, you know your options for comfort are minimal, especially at the price you pay. If you are on a strict budget or a short flight, then I think you can survive a few hours in the regular seats – just bring entertainment because I doubt you’ll be able to sleep. However, if you are on a transcontinental or red-eye flight, then the Stretch Seat will make your journey 10x more comfortable, and your body will thank you when you land.

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