Frontier Airlines Review

Photo taken by Andreas Traxler located on

Up until recently, all of my trips around the US have been taken by car. My parents didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up … or at least not enough extra in the bank account to splurge on plane tickets. I don't feel like I missed out on anything in particular. We lived (and still live) within driving distance of many fantastic places. Road trips to the Alabama Space Station, the Tennessee Aquarium (before Georgia had one), Disney World, Savannah, Charleston, and even DC were all within our reach. Throughout my entire childhood I never flew anywhere … until I went to New York City in high school shortly before 9/11. 

I digress.

The point is that I haven't had a lot of experience flying.

In September I spotted a "deal" for a flight to DC, a place Justin and I had been wanting to visit for a while. Justin has friends that live there. They had been down to see us at least twice since moving there, but we had never been to see them. Of course, the deal was with the badly reviewed Frontier Airlines. Prior to booking I read horror stories about cramped seating, lost luggage, and flight delays. The stories were enough to make you reconsider any desires you may have had. The practicality of it was that Justin and I didn't (and still don't) have a lot of money or time, but friends are important to us. We worked out the logistics, booked the flight, and decided we would make do with whatever came from it.

To be fair to Frontier, Justin and I avoided as many of the negatively reviewed aspects of Frontier as possible. We paid more for the extra legroom provided in the emergency row seats and we did not take in checked baggage. (Do you really need any if you are only going to be gone for a weekend?) Planning for only one carry-on, we paid for it in advance a few days before our flight, a price approximately $10 lower than what would be charged at the gate.

With all of the upcharges, we ended up spending approximately $50 more per person on this flight per person than we had initially planned on. If I were to do it again, I would skip the carry-on bag fee and just take two personal items. Truthfully, we could have fit everything we needed in those for two nights. Nevertheless, the flight went well. The plane seemed old, but the seating certainly wasn't uncomfortable for the two hours we were onboard. And while we were expecting the airline to charge an arm and a leg for beverages and snacks, we were surprised at the decent pricing that seemed similar to what you would pay at a vending machine.

My main take away, and the only downside to the whole experience, is that if you need to speak to a gate agent, you might as well forget it. At both Hartsfield (ATL) and Dulles (IAD), the gate agent only arrived a mere 10 minutes prior to boarding. I have no idea if that is typical for smaller airlines, but my experience with Delta and Air France was that gate agents were ready and waiting up to an hour before take off offering upgraded seats at discounts and helping to solve problems. (Perhaps that's only necessary with international travel?)

Anyway, given the low rates that Frontier offers (most recently I was considering $98 RT flights to Denver from Atlanta), I highly recommend flying with them. You aren't going to be treated like royalty, but do you really care about that on a two hour flight? The main things you should be aware of when flying with them is that 1) they charge for every single upgrade including food and drink (which isn't bad if you don't need too many luxuries), 2) your flight may not be on time (one RT flight with them is hardly enough for me to tell how consistently on time they are and whether online reviews I've read are worth anything) and 3) the best way to make sure luggage isn't lost is to solely bring carry-ons (which is true of any airline). If you keep those things in mind when flying Frontier (and get a cheap enough rate), you should have an enjoyable flight.

Have you flown with Frontier before? Did you have a good experience?

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