How to Avoid Fees on Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

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Folks with elite status on the discount airline Frontier (I guess there are some!) have been getting 2 free checked bags.  But that’s going away very soon!  Instead, Frontier’s frequent flyers will only save money on carry-on bags.

Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader Howard for letting us know about the changes! 

Starting March 7, 2015, Frontier will discontinue its current elite status levels and introduce 1 level of status only.

And they’re changing how quickly miles expire.  Now you’ll lose your miles if you don’t earn any for 6 months.

How To Avoid Fees On Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

New Elite Status Level and 6-Month Mile Expiration at Frontier Airlines

Let’s see what these changes mean for Frontier Airlines flyers.  And if earning elite status is worthwhile!

What’s the Deal?

Link:   Frontier Airlines Elite Changes

Link:   Frontier Airlines Elite FAQ

1.   Elite Status

In the past, Frontier Airlines has had 2 elite status tiers above their basic membership level:

  • Ascent – earned by flying 15,000 miles or 20 segments in a calendar year
  • Summit – earned by flying 25,000 miles or 30 segments in a calendar year

Starting March 7, 2015, there will be ONE level of elite status only, called Frontier Elite.   You’ll earn status by flying 20,000 miles or 25 segments in a calendar year.

New Frontier Elites will get:

  • Free carry-on bag (normally $25 to $50)
  • STRETCH seating (more legroom)
  • Complimentary Discount Den membership through June 2015 (discounts on checked bags, other fees)
  • Priority check-in, security, and boarding
  • Advance seat assignment (normally $3)
  • Last seat availability awards (redeem miles for any available seat)
  • Reservation call center ticketing fee waived
  • Unaccompanied minor fee waived (normally $100)
  • Same day confirmed fee waived
How To Avoid Fees On Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

Frontier Elites Get More Legroom for Free

They’ve eliminated some of the benefits that came with old elite status, including 2 free checked bags and complimentary drinks.  You’ll also no longer earn bonus miles on flights like you do now.

Frontier Airlines charges fees for just about everything, so holding elite status could save you some money.  But you’ll still pay for checked bags, drinks, and food.

And you’ll have to fly more miles or segments to earn elite status under the new rules.  With the old system, you’d only need 15,000 miles or 20 segments to reach mid-tier elite status.  Now, you’ll need 20,000 miles and 25 segments.

Overall, these are NOT good changes.  They’ve gotten rid of some of the more valuable perks that came with elite status!

2.   Miles Expiration

Starting March 7, 2015, you’ll need to earn miles at least once every 6 months to keep your mileage balance active.

You’ll lose everything if you don’t earn miles from flying, using the Barclays Frontier Airlines credit card, or with partners like Hertz or Avis.

There are other ways to earn Frontier miles, like completing surveys.  These can be time-consuming, but could be worth it if you’ll otherwise lose your miles.

Folks with Hilton points could also transfer their points to Frontier to keep their miles from expiring.

How To Avoid Fees On Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

You Can Earn Frontier Airlines Miles From Flying or Through Partners Like Car Rental Agencies

This new expiration policy is much stricter than the current rules.  Right now, your miles will expire if you have no earning activity after 18 months.

So you’ll have to be vigilant about earning miles every 6 months.

Is Frontier Status Worth It?

Frequent flyers who live near cities served by Frontier (and don’t mind their no-frills approach to air travel) might consider earning Frontier status to save money on some fees.

But I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Frontier if I can get an equally inexpensive ticket on Southwest (because everyone gets 2 free checked bags).  And folks with the Southwest Companion Pass will get an even better deal, because your companion flies with you almost free on paid and award tickets.

How To Avoid Fees On Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

The Companion Pass Is Usually a Better Deal, Even If Frontier Has a Seat Sale

That said, Frontier flights are often very cheap as long as you don’t check bags or take a carry-on bag.  Personal items that fit under the seat are still free for now.

And sometimes Frontier has good seat sales.  Even with the extra fees, you could still get a very good deal.  So having elite status might not matter (and you’ll still pay for checked bags, anyway!).

Earning elite status under the new system requires 20,000 miles or 25 segments in a year.  Unless you already fly Frontier often, I wouldn’t change travel plans just to earn status.

Bottom Line

Frontier Airlines is making changes to its award program, and it’s generally NOT good news.

Starting March 7, 2015, there will only be 1 tier of elite status, instead of 2.  And they’re eliminating some elite perks like free checked bags.

You’ll also need to earn miles every 6 months to keep your miles from expiring.  That’s much stricter than the current 18-month expiration rule.

Frontier often has cheap domestic flights.  But Emily and I still prefer Southwest for the 2 free checked bags, quirky service, and 2-for-1 travel with the Companion Pass.

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7 responses to “How to Avoid Fees on Frontier Airlines With Their Updated Elite Status Program

  1. I got the Barclays card and 40K in Frontier miles but I consider them pretty much useless now. They stopped flying to the airport closest to my family, which stinks for me and my Mom who got the card and miles at my urging. They also seem to have a bad habit of discontinuing flights and airports frequently. I don’t want to plan a vacation a couple months in advance with my miles only to have them discontinue flying there and canceling my tickets weeks before my flight leaving me with few other options. It’s a shame because the few Frontier flights I’ve taken were good but they are screwing up too much and leaving their customers high and dry too often.

  2. Will transfers through still work to keep my frontier miles alive?

  3. Never fly Frontier.

  4. At present, Frontier flies out of two airports near me direct to Denver for a much cheaper price than United. Yes, those are my two options without going through O’Hare. I have to go to Chicago Midway to fly Southwest I think.

    I am not happy with this at all. I have been able to keep my miles alive through surveys. Once I get my next free ticket, I’m no longer worrying about those miles.

    They have now cut back to flying every other day out of both cities. That is not good news as it usually means the next cut is we no fly from those cities.

  5. A once well serviced airline that has driven lifetime summit members like me to revisit competitors because they have abandoned their loyalty to business travelers……

  6. Another good reason to not both with Frontier Elite – you’ll never get TSA Pre Check because Frontier doesn’t participate. So my Global Entry status is worthless to me on a Frontier flight.