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WSJ News Alert: Frontier Group, Spirit Airlines Merge in $6.6 Billion Deal

WSJ News Alert: Frontier Group, Spirit Airlines Merge in $6.6 Billion Deal

Old Feb 7, 2022, 4:02 pm
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Tino
This merger transition should be an absolute mess for everyone involved. Take two money-losing airlines with awful operations, IT systems and customer interfaces and smash them together. The only thing they have going for them is the similar Airbus lineup between the two.
There have been enough mergers in the past 15 years that I think any airline executive who has been paying the slightest bit of attention can see and learn from past examples of awful (UA/CO), not bad (DL/NW) and good (WN/FL) execution. The approach of the latter, gradually phasing out the 'losing' brand's flights while scheduling more of the 'winning' brand as aircraft shift over would be the obvious way, especially since there's minimal to no codeshareing and interlining on either airline.

On that note, did the Frontier/Volaris codeshare just kind of fade away or is it still going? And it's probably too soon to tell but might that still continue or restart after merging?
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 4:31 pm
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by ewoo
I've flown Spirit and I've flown Frontier and I can't say I've noticed a real big difference in the "raucousness" of the atmosphere.
Yeah, I never noticed a difference between the clientele on both airlines. I have only flown Spirit once in past two years in Dec, but I used to split time equally between the two previously. I think people just remember the more recent Spirit airport and plane incidents, but Frontier had that passenger that was duct taped to the seat (who was yelling about his parent's net worth). Other airlines have been in the news as well as this has obviously been a big problem over the past year.


Originally Posted by willy702
Miles for both are pretty worthless for most airports. When an RT costs under $200 cash in most cases and for free flights you still have to pay fees for everything (including redemption if you arent Elite), miles just don't have much value. I have tried to use some of my F9 miles and it just seemed wasteful so I have held onto them wondering if the perfect storm comes when they have a flight for over $300 that I can use miles on.

I don't fly Spirit much these days, but I still get in a dining purchase or a cheap flight every six months to keep the miles active. But Spirit is much more difficult for me to justify because I don't have status, not fond of getting everything into the small backpack again and dealing with a bad seat. For both of these, elite status really is worth a lot while the miles are just meh.
I have like 200k Frontier miles now and I still have to find a use for them. My mother's miles (about 20K) expired in 2019 and I'm not even that upset that we didn't get to use them. (Long story but my flights were renewing them in the family pool but then they don't getting renewed from my activity and expired. Sure I could have used them for magazines but not that big of a loss).

I've only booked on Frontier flight with miles. I had to cancel a trip when the lockdowns first started. We cancelled two flights to a wedding. We had to rebook using the credits and since travel was uncertain in mid 2020, we booked a trip for the lastest date possible at the time using the credits, which was the first week in Sept. The flights were expensive then, so I used the value to book one ticket, and used miles for the other.

I haven't found much use for the miles because I usually fly when the flights are cheap since I am very flexible with when I can plan my trips so I always book when flight are cheap.

Edit:
I hope they keep Frontier's slightly more generous carry-on dimensions as my bag is the max allowable on Frontier but doesn't fit spirit.


Last edited by rhwbullhead; Feb 7, 2022 at 4:47 pm
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 5:16 pm
  #33  
 
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Originally Posted by wolfpacktrojan
I think the merged entity will need a new name and total rebrand. There's no benefit to picking between Spirit and Frontier, imo. It's an opportunity for a clean slate, at least from a marketing perspective.
How about FIRIT? As in "fear it".
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 6:20 pm
  #34  
 
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Surely I can't be the first to think "Frontier Spirit" isn't a half-bad name?
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 6:40 pm
  #35  
 
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Combine the call signs. Frontier is "Frontier Flight" and Spirit is "Spirit Wings,". So I guess "Frontier Wings" or "Spirit Flight".
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 7:36 pm
  #36  
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Terrible news...I hope Biden & Garland go after it

I have some pretty extensive experience with both, having flown Spirit quite a bit before 2018 and still being a cardholder, and now in my third year of 50K status on F9. Frontier is the much better of the two.

The reason for Biden and DOJ to try to block is pretty simple: Too much market share between them and it's exactly the kind of competition-stifling thing that will lead to higher fares. Didn't they learn anything from what happened with the legacies?

Culture-wise, Spirit has been much more of a no-stone-unturned outfit for trying to invent fees, and is much less willing to waive as an elite perk. The elite experience with F9 makes flying not that much different from a legacy, with things like fee waivers for all award bookings and the full-size carry-on being particularly useful. The stretch seats have more legroom (but no more width), but OTOH Spirit plays the big front seats for revenue. They just aren't willing to forgo revenue in the name of encouraging loyalty. And as we saw with the legacies, when you don't have to COMPETE so much for business, loyalty programs are among things taking the biggest hit.

I also agree with those who say there's a difference culturally. Spirit crew are much more likely in my observation to have a hardened drill-sergeant mentality. Conditions have always been tough and they've always gotten the bus crowd. Frontier still has holdovers from pre-ULCC days with better attitude. Both airlines get quite a few first-timers and infrequent travelers who think they're going to get more and save more than they actually do.

Frontier's copying of Spirit on the 40-lb bags rather than the inbdustry standard 50 lbs. was a bad sign. It's a gotcha for anyone coming off an international flight, for example. With some luggage you're also down 10-15 lbs. before you pack anything. Just a money grab.

It'd be nice to think Frontier could improve Spirit, but that's not the way these things usually work. The Wall Street crowd always tries to pressure for more fees with no regard for customers...they've been trying to get Southwest to charge for bags for years now, even though that'd drive families away and take away a key competitive advantage.

But first & foremost is just the size of the two in relation to other ULCCs. It's like Coca-Cola and Pepsi trying to merge.
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 7:56 pm
  #37  
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Originally Posted by RustyC
The reason for Biden and DOJ to try to block is pretty simple: Too much market share between them and it's exactly the kind of competition-stifling thing that will lead to higher fares. Didn't they learn anything from what happened with the legacies?.
The rest of what you said mostly has to do with passenger experience, which is clearly not a priority for either carrier.

The market share bit is a valid point. Someone from Goldman Sachs asked about slot divestitures on the webcast today and it was met with a ........ answer; I do not think they will end up having to since the only slot-restricted fields they operate from are LGA and DCA and they don't have a huge presence at either one. As for the rest of their networks, it still isn't a ton of market share... they will be the fifth-largest carrier by available seat-miles, and quite a bit down from #4 (Southwest); they'll have only slightly more than JetBlue or Alaska, so I don't really see it ultimately being a barrier.

As for your point on higher fares... airfares are at an historic all-time low. This coming weekend I am flying across the country and back for under $150 round-trip (which would have been around $32 in 1977, the year before deregulation), and last year I went for even less. The post-merger legacies are now more efficient and reliable than ever before. So with any luck they are following in their footsteps and will enjoy similar improvements.

-J.
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 8:15 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by RustyC
I have some pretty extensive experience with both, having flown Spirit quite a bit before 2018 and still being a cardholder, and now in my third year of 50K status on F9. Frontier is the much better of the two.

The reason for Biden and DOJ to try to block is pretty simple: Too much market share between them and it's exactly the kind of competition-stifling thing that will lead to higher fares. Didn't they learn anything from what happened with the legacies?

Culture-wise, Spirit has been much more of a no-stone-unturned outfit for trying to invent fees, and is much less willing to waive as an elite perk. The elite experience with F9 makes flying not that much different from a legacy, with things like fee waivers for all award bookings and the full-size carry-on being particularly useful. The stretch seats have more legroom (but no more width), but OTOH Spirit plays the big front seats for revenue. They just aren't willing to forgo revenue in the name of encouraging loyalty. And as we saw with the legacies, when you don't have to COMPETE so much for business, loyalty programs are among things taking the biggest hit.

I also agree with those who say there's a difference culturally. Spirit crew are much more likely in my observation to have a hardened drill-sergeant mentality. Conditions have always been tough and they've always gotten the bus crowd. Frontier still has holdovers from pre-ULCC days with better attitude. Both airlines get quite a few first-timers and infrequent travelers who think they're going to get more and save more than they actually do.

Frontier's copying of Spirit on the 40-lb bags rather than the inbdustry standard 50 lbs. was a bad sign. It's a gotcha for anyone coming off an international flight, for example. With some luggage you're also down 10-15 lbs. before you pack anything. Just a money grab.

It'd be nice to think Frontier could improve Spirit, but that's not the way these things usually work. The Wall Street crowd always tries to pressure for more fees with no regard for customers...they've been trying to get Southwest to charge for bags for years now, even though that'd drive families away and take away a key competitive advantage.

But first & foremost is just the size of the two in relation to other ULCCs. It's like Coca-Cola and Pepsi trying to merge.
It will be looked at but hard to believe the rationale will carry weight. They dont dominate share at any airport and you would be hard pressed to say this is too much concentration when they will be #5 carrier. It's not Coke and Pepsi merging, more like Dr Pepper and Mr Pibb.
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 9:46 pm
  #39  
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Originally Posted by willy702
Why? For a long time Spirit almost took pride in being horrible from the CEO on down. I remember those times about 10 years ago when without fail I would hear at least one person on every Spirit flight loudly proclaim they would never fly on Spirit again, was like that should be their motto. Spirit cleaned up their act after that and became respectable in part because Frontier was going to the same model. Changing the branding but still being an ULCC gets them nowhere. Just the same I don't see them ever trying to change the minds of those who rather bad mouth the ULCC experience. That's like someone at Walmart saying we should be going after Whole Foods for market share. It just doesn't make sense.
Oh, you mention Ben Baldanza??? He is the worst. He is no longer CEO. That's from the past. He will be banned work for all airlines for life.
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 10:23 pm
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by RustyC
I have some pretty extensive experience with both, having flown Spirit quite a bit before 2018 and still being a cardholder, and now in my third year of 50K status on F9. Frontier is the much better of the two.

Both airlines get quite a few first-timers and infrequent travelers who think they're going to get more and save more than they actually do.

Frontier's copying of Spirit on the 40-lb bags rather than the inbdustry standard 50 lbs. was a bad sign. It's a gotcha for anyone coming off an international flight, for example. With some luggage you're also down 10-15 lbs. before you pack anything. Just a money grab.
Hardly. The biggest gotcha is the $5 scam for a cart "rental" at JFK (for international travelers). People coming off of international flights do some basic planning and usually book through connections, on most occasions, for only a few dollars more. If they didn't do that and tried to be a genius by booking on Spirit/Frontier, and checking luggage in again, it is totally their fault. This issue (reduced luggage limits) is more common in other parts of the world in domestic/European sectors so international travelers from abroad are better prepared.

Last edited by psusaver; Feb 7, 2022 at 10:26 pm Reason: relevant quotes only
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Old Feb 7, 2022, 10:56 pm
  #41  
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Originally Posted by willy702
It will be looked at but hard to believe the rationale will carry weight. They dont dominate share at any airport and you would be hard pressed to say this is too much concentration when they will be #5 carrier. It's not Coke and Pepsi merging, more like Dr Pepper and Mr Pibb.
Post 19 has a much better analogy.
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Old Feb 8, 2022, 6:56 am
  #42  
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Originally Posted by N830MH
Oh, you mention Ben Baldanza??? He is the worst. He is no longer CEO. That's from the past. He will be banned work for all airlines for life.
He is now a a member of the board at JetBlue Airways.

-J.
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Old Feb 8, 2022, 9:21 am
  #43  
 
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Originally Posted by GW McLintock
He is now a a member of the board at JetBlue Airways.

-J.
Maybe it isn't a coincidence they were deemed the worst carrier in the US in recent times.
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Old Feb 8, 2022, 9:27 am
  #44  
 
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This is like watching Kanye marry himself.
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Old Feb 8, 2022, 10:41 am
  #45  
 
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Originally Posted by rhwbullhead
Yeah, I never noticed a difference between the clientele on both airlines. I have only flown Spirit once in past two years in Dec, but I used to split time equally between the two previously. I think people just remember the more recent Spirit airport and plane incidents, but Frontier had that passenger that was duct taped to the seat (who was yelling about his parent's net worth). Other airlines have been in the news as well as this has obviously been a big problem over the past year.




I have like 200k Frontier miles now and I still have to find a use for them. My mother's miles (about 20K) expired in 2019 and I'm not even that upset that we didn't get to use them. (Long story but my flights were renewing them in the family pool but then they don't getting renewed from my activity and expired. Sure I could have used them for magazines but not that big of a loss).

I've only booked on Frontier flight with miles. I had to cancel a trip when the lockdowns first started. We cancelled two flights to a wedding. We had to rebook using the credits and since travel was uncertain in mid 2020, we booked a trip for the lastest date possible at the time using the credits, which was the first week in Sept. The flights were expensive then, so I used the value to book one ticket, and used miles for the other.

I haven't found much use for the miles because I usually fly when the flights are cheap since I am very flexible with when I can plan my trips so I always book when flight are cheap.

Edit:
I hope they keep Frontier's slightly more generous carry-on dimensions as my bag is the max allowable on Frontier but doesn't fit spirit.

A good reason why luggage should have wheels which are easy to remove
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