Frontier is probably one of the best airlines in the industry, especially in terms of low-fare providers. They were founded in 1994 and are based out of Denver Colorado. They offer 80 destinations in the United States and abroad, mostly in North America, with flights going to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and other nearby realms close to the United States. Frontier has one of the most generous programs for rewards in the industry. 20,000 economy frequent flier miles gets a client a round-trip ticket anywhere in the United States. Frontier however, does not do sharing of its frequent flyer miles with other airlines, much like the American Airlines Group does. Frontier is currently upgrading its fleet, which is a nice feature. Most airlines have planes in their fleet that are close to fifteen years old. Frontier uses mostly Airbus jets for its main fleet, including the Airbus 319 and 320. The average age of a Frontier jet is about 8-1/2 years, meaning that Frontier wants the best jets possible for its customers. One downside of Frontier's mergers and acquisitions was the closing of the Milwaukee hub. We found that this adversely impacted Frontier employees, as well as reducing some of their flights that were a central component in their business model because of the central location of the Milwaukee hub.
- Ticket prices
- Rewards program
- Flight statistics
Frontier is a low-fare airline. They stay true to this reputation by offering the lowest prices for flights. They are often one of the lowest or the lowest priced option for their flights.
They also offer one of the most generous rewards programs. 20,000 economy frequent flier miles gets a round-trip ticket anywhere in the United States served by Frontier. There are also special deals that are always available and changing on the Frontier website that will help lower their prices even more. Frontier has few destinations though, so while they may the lowest option, they may not be available for the flights a customer needs. Frontier also does not allow their frequent flier miles to be shared with other airlines. This is unfortunate since other airlines such as American Airlines does allow this.
Frontier Airlines has certain specified times for boarding their flights:
• 45 minutes before departure: bags must be checked in
• 30 minutes before departure: passengers must be at the gate, boarding will begin
• 15 minutes before departure: final boarding
• 10 minutes before departure: doors close
They also have a few groups that will always board their plane first. They include:
1. Special Services: anyone needing wheelchair or other boarding assistance and unaccompanied minors
2. Passengers who have purchased a carry-on bag
3. Courtesy boarding: families traveling with children under three and any other passenger requiring additional time or assistance
Seats are assigned on Frontier flights which help make the boarding process smoother as passengers know exactly where they are headed when they enter the aircraft. Frontier recommends that passengers choose their seats while they are booking their tickets. This way passengers can choose their preference, and try to keep their party together however it does cost a fee to choose a seat. If a seat is not chosen at booking, one will randomly be assigned during the check-in process for free. Check-in can be done at the airport or online and must be done at least 45 minutes before departure for domestic flights, and 60 minutes for international flights.
Frontier has fairly average on-time percentages for their daily flights. The received the following statistics from Flightstats.com:
• 80% on-time
• 7% late
• 3% very late
• 7% excessive
Many of the top airlines are slightly higher than this rating. The margin that they are better is not much however, Frontier is still rather consistent for being generally on time. Their most active routes, however, did receive much lower ratings than top airlines. Generally the top airlines active routes are receiving four to five-star ratings, while Frontier flights received mostly two to three-star ratings. Their top flights include:
• Denver to Portland (4.1 stars, 88% on time)
• San Diego to Denver (3.7 stars, 87% on time)
• Denver to Minneapolis (3.4 stars, 85% on time)
Their lowest flight is Denver to Dallas (1.4 stars, 74% on time). These ratings show that Frontier is not as consistent with providing on time, not delayed or canceled flights as some of the other airlines. Frontier offers more than 275 daily flights and is a much smaller airline than some of the top they are compared to. Their most active routes looked at are all domestic locations.
Frontier Airlines began in 1994 and has been providing low-fare air travel for the past 21 years. 21 years of service does not make them a brand new airline. They have had time to grow with the industry, and expand. They are however, a young airline when compared with some of the major airlines. A number of other airlines, both major and small, have been around for over 80 years, about four times as long as Frontier. An advantage to Frontier's young age is their young fleet. Many of their airplanes are newer than other airlines offer. Frontier is also the proud winner of the Federal Aviation Administration's 2014 Diamond Award for maintenance excellence. They were also recently named the industry's most fuel-efficient airline by the International Council on Clean Transportation. Along with these awards, Frontier is one of the safest airlines. They have never had a fatal accident, an impressive feat for a low-fare carrier.
Because Frontier is a low-cost airline, they do not offer any free baggage. All checked and carry-on bags cost money. Baggage is cheaper when it is booked online at least 24 hours before departure. There is a price increase for bags checked at the ticket counter of the airport and another increase for bags checked at the gate. There are also certain size restrictions for checked luggage. Bags must not exceed 62 inches collectively (Length + Width + Depth) and 50 pounds. Bags that exceed this will have an additional charge of $75 for each bag that is overweight and $75 for each oversized bag, and bags over 100 pounds or in excess of 110 linear inches will not be accepted.
Because Frontier is a low-fare airline, they do not offer many of the standard amenities found on much larger airlines. They do not offer any entertainment options or Wi-Fi. They state that they would rather pass those savings onto the customers. They also do not offer any complimentary food or beverages. They do have an array of options for snacks and beverages that are available for purchase on the flight however. Their non-alcoholic drinks cost $2. This is unusual even for low-fare airlines. Generally other low cost airlines provide complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and maybe some light snacks. Frontier however charges for all food onboard. Their snack choices include:
• Chex mix
• Almond M&M's
• Beef Jerky
• Pringles Chips
• Gummy Bears
• Rice Krispies
• Frontier Trail Mix
Frontier also offers a number of bundled options for different snacks and drinks. They serve coffee as well and their alcoholic beverages will run about $7 a drink.
The Bottom Line
We would recommend Frontier without reservation and would even go so far as to say that they are one of the best low-fare airlines in the industry. We liked their relatively young fleet, the Airbus planes that make up their fleet, and the customer experience that customers get. We really liked our phone-in experience. Our questions were easily answered and we also really liked the no-hassle refund policy for customers who have a canceled flight. If you're flight is canceled or delayed up to three hours, you will get a refund of your ticket or a new flight.