Full guide to flying Frontier Airlines

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Whenever you hear about super-low cost flights in the U.S., chances are the carrier is going to be Frontier Airlines. Born out of service cutbacks and based out of Denver by Continental Airlines in 1993, Frontier has grown to be the eighth-largest commercial airline in the U.S. While there have been complaints about flying Frontier, most are simply due to a lack of understanding about how Frontier operates as the airline with “Low Fares Done Right.” Once you grasp the policies and fees, you can work with them and enjoy the sometimes immense savings Frontier offers. This Frontier Airlines review helps to fill in some of the blanks, while also helping answer the question “is Frontier a good airline?”.

Frontier Airlines basic information

Airline: Frontier Airlines

Category: Ultra-low-cost carrier

Frequent flyer program: Frontier miles

Tag line: Low Fares Done Right

Fleet size: 100

Main hub: Denver

Destinations: 150 domestic and international

Frontier Airlines baggage policies

Frontier baggage fees increase with time. So, as the flight date approaches, the prices go up. This means you need to purchase any baggage allowances as early as you can. Frontier allows for a 24-hour window to purchase the baggage allowance after purchasing your ticket.

Frontier does allow for one personal bag for free. It can’t be larger than 8″D X 18″W X 14″H and must fit under the seat. They will also allow a diaper bag if you’re traveling with an infant, as well as a car seat and stroller as checked baggage. Beyond that, you’ll be charged, and the fees vary depending on the route. There is an online tool you can use to check baggage fees here.

Carry-on bags are limited to 10″D X 16″W X 24″H and can’t weigh more than 35 lbs. Checked bags must be no larger than 62 linear inches and must not weigh more than 50 lbs. Bags that are too large or too heavy will incur a $75 fee. These fees stack so a 65 linear inch bag that weighs 55 lbs. (meaning it violates both limits) would incur a $150 charge. Frontier will not accept bags that are larger than 110 linear inches or 100 lbs. For policies related to special baggage, such as sporting equipment, see this page.

Frontier has two bundles they call The Works and The Perks, which allow for one carry-on and one checked bag as well as some additional perks. The cost of these bundles may help to save on baggage costs.

There are two other exceptions to the baggage policies and fees:

  • Frontier Miles Elite 100K members receive one free checked bag.
  • Active Duty Military receive one free carry-on bag plus two free checked bags. Additionally, the oversize and overweight baggage fees are waived for the two free checked bags.

Seat selection and boarding

Frontier’s fares do not include a seat assignment, but seat assignments can be purchased either during the booking process or later after booking. If you take advantage of The Works or The Perks bundles, a seat assignment is included. It is not a requirement to have a pre-selected seat assignment. If you choose not to pay for a seat assignment, you will be randomly assigned a seat when checking in. Keep in mind this could mean having your party separated. If you want to keep your group together, it’s best to purchase seat assignments.

As far as check-in and boarding go, every passenger must be checked in 45 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and 60 minutes prior to departure for international flights. Passengers must arrive at the gate 30 minutes before departure, and airplane doors close 15 minutes prior to departure.

Those who’ve purchased a carry-on bag board first in Zone 1. Next to board are those with children under the age of three. After that, everyone else gets to board.

Can I refund or change a flight?

Frontier Airline tickets are all non-refundable unless The Works bundle is purchased. The exception to this is within the first 24 hours after booking. During that window, tickets can be cancelled and a refund requested. Tickets for travel within seven days will receive a refund as a credit. Once 24 hours have passed since purchase, the flight can still be cancelled, but there could be a fee (cancellation and change fees shown here). The tickets will retain their value for 90 days, and that value can be used to book a new flight.

If you need to change a flight, there will be a charge if the change is made less than 60 days before departure. If the new itinerary is more expensive, the difference needs to be paid, but if it is less expensive, there will be no refunds or residual value applied to the ticket.

What’s Frontier’s Discount Den? Should I join?

Frontier’s Discount Den is a subscription-based service that provides its members with exclusive access to the lowest available fares. The Discount Den has an annual fee of $59.99, and you can expect to save between $10 – $30 on average for each Discount Den ticket. Members of the Discount Den can book lower fare tickets for up to six people when flying Frontier, as long as they are one of the passengers. This means just one person per family (of six or less) will need to join the Discount Den for the whole family to enjoy savings when traveling together. One additional benefit of the Discount Den is that on select Kids Fly Free flights, one person under the age of 15 (at the time of booking) can fly for free for every adult Discount Den reduced fare purchased.

Whether or not the Discount Den is worth it for you will depend on your circumstances. If you have children under 15 that fly with you, then joining seems like it would be a good deal, depending on the availability of Kids Fly Free flights. If you fly with Frontier regularly, then the Discount Den will almost certainly make sense for you. Ultimately, the value of the service will depend on what discounted flights are available for you to take advantage of.

Is Frontier a good airline?

Frontier is an ultra-low-cost airline, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad airline. In fact, the customer service you’ll receive from the ground crew and flight attendants is no worse than with the major airlines, and by some accounts, it is even better. The key to flying with Frontier is to understand exactly what you get for your fare and plan accordingly.

What you get is an ultra-low fare for your destination. And that’s it. If you want anything else, like checked baggage or an assigned seat, expect to pay more. With that in mind, you should try to keep baggage to a minimum, bring your own snacks and entertainment, and avoid paying extra for any amenities. If you follow those suggestions, you should be quite pleased with your discounted Frontier flight.

Does Frontier have a frequent flyer program?

Frontier has a frequent flyer program called Frontier Miles, and if you plan on flying Frontier even semi-regularly, it’s probably worth the effort to sign up for the program. It’s free to join and has several benefits even before you reach Elite status.

For example, you can store all your preferences, payment methods and personal information to speed up the booking process. The real benefits kick in once you reach Elite status. There are three levels; Elite 20k, Elite 50k, and Elite 100k, with each level giving more significant benefits. Even the Elite 20k level can provide you significant benefits like a free carry-on bag, priority boarding, some waived fees, and free seat assignments. The Elite 50k level adds a mileage bonus and a 50% discount off Discount Den membership. At Elite 100k, you get an even larger mileage bonus and a free Discount Den membership, as well as The Works bundle on your bookings for up to eight companions.

Bottom Line

Flying has become quite expensive in the modern age. Still, ultra-low-cost airlines like Frontier are trying to reverse that trend, offering their customers a no-frills flight experience that can be significantly less expensive than full-service airlines. It isn’t for everyone, but if you understand the rules and policies, flying with Frontier can make very good financial sense. Once you have a handle on how Frontier operates, you’ll be able to take advantage of serious savings to destinations all across North and Central America and Mexico.

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Featured image by LukeandKarla.Travel/Shutterstock.

Steven Walters is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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