Cheap airfare is one of the main things I look for when booking a flight.
Well Frontier you had me at cheap fares! I was determined not to pay for any extras, which I accomplished by packing four days of clothing in a backpack and not bringing any toiletries.
I traveled to Orlando in September for the first time alone. No kids, no wife, just me; traveling solo! I decided that I would try and find the most economical method to fly out of Austin. Booking a cheap flight will save you money, but what does it really cost?
Cheap Flight Research
Before I started looking online for cheap flights, a friend of mine posted a Facebook status claiming she booked a round trip flight to Florida for under $100. What is this sorcery? How did she do that? I shot her a Facebook message and asked how she booked her flight for so cheap. She pointed me in the direction of Frontier Airlines.
I looked it up and found that a round trip flight from Austin to Orlando would be $126. Sold! Sign me up!
After reading reviews and talking with my wife, I was rather skeptical about this extremely cheap flight. I booked my flight and arrived at ABIA with very low expectations and the understanding that there may be some issues with my flight.
8 Things to Know Before You Fly Frontier
- Extremely Cheap Airfare – I booked a round trip flight form Austin to Orlando direct for $126. Being budget conscience I thought it was a steal. But along with the my cheap fare I didn’t get to choose my seat, I didn’t get a checked bag, and I didn’t get to carry on a bag. Also, if I wanted to change, cancel, or transfer your ticket, you would have to pay a $99 fee.
- TSA Pre Check – As of September 29, 2016, Frontier Airlines now participates in TSA Pre Check. If you are headed to the airport to board a Frontier flight, now you have the options to use Pre-Check to get to to your gate faster.
- Check Bag Fees – Every bag that needs to be checked will cost you. In addition, the price varies depending at what juncture you decide to add on a checked bag. Frontier has an info-graphic that explains the prices of checked bags. If you add checked bags during your initial flight purchase it is $25 dollars. If you add a checked bag at the ticket counter it is $30, and if you check your bag at the gate it will be $60! If you do select and pay for a bag to be checked you get Zone 1 boarding. But if you are like me, I don’t like boarding as soon as possible. I just cant fathom waiting for others to board. So I wasn’t bothered with my Zone 3 boarding and I didn’t pay for any checked bags.
- No WiFi – Absolutely no WiFi; not even for purchase. Bring a laptop with a movie already downloaded to pass the time. Bring a book or have a game downloaded on your phone that does not require internet or just relax and listen to some tunes. Be sure and download your music to your device because you can’t access Pandora or Apple Music.
- One personal item is FREE – This was the most important information I received! There is one thing that you may bring on the flight that is free and it’s one personal item. Frontier does not mention that your personal item can be a large purse or backpack, only that it must fit under the seat in front of you. In my case, I stuffed four days of clothes and my laptop into a backpack. I didn’t pack any toiletries and hoped for the best when I got to my destination. At the gate, I didn’t have any issues with my backpack being too large and I wasn’t stopped by any members of the Frontier crew. SCORE!
- Extra Fees – Like the check bag fees, Frontier will charge you for a carry on bags, snacks, drinks, seat choice, and cancellation and transfer fees. My advice eat before you get on your flight and bring a drink with you. I took a bottle of water and a bag of Doritos for my flight home.
- Delays – One of the biggest complaints I read online was how many passengers experience delays at various airports across the country. Add me to that category, almost all the flights to and from ABIA were on time except for mine and a few others that were delayed for a few minutes not four hours!
- Uncomfortable Seats – Now I have sat one some uncomfortable seats in my life, but the seats that Frontier has in their planes are made of plastic and covered with barely any fabric and no cushion for your bottom and the seats do not recline. In addition, the tray table is tiny. It is about the size of an iPad mini and barely enough room for anything. My laptop didn’t fit on it so I had my laptop on my lap while I watched a movie. My knees were almost touching the seat in front of me and I am not that tall. Anyone taller will be cramped and would have to pay for a seat that has more leg room.
I knew that there would be issues with buying an extremely cheap flight, but I purchased the tickets with very low expectations and a determination not to pay any of the extra fees. I was Stuck At ABIA for 4 Hours and I wrote about all the interested people I met and observed. I had two beers before I took off and I got to my destination. Frontier Airlines got me form point A to point B and that is what I paid for.
On the way back, the flight was on time. I even sat in a window seat, that I did not purchase. In my book, Frontier is 1 for 1. It wasn’t a terrible experience but it wasn’t the best either. Again, I had low expectations and I was pleasantly surprised that on the way back my flight was a delay free, I sat in a window seat, and my flight was for the most part comfortable.
Would I use Frontier again?
Probably, if I was flying alone. Personally, I would not recommend flying this airline with babies or toddlers. If you are like us, we live and die by nap and feeding schedules any disruption throws everything off. A four delay with toddlers wouldn’t be a fun time. Bigger kids may understand and find it fun to be stuck at an airport. If you have older kiddos, teens, and want to take the chance, I say go for it!
What has been your experience when booking and flying on the cheap?
EDIT: In the previous version of this post Frontier Airlines was not a participant of TSA Pre-Check. Per a news release by the TSA on September 29, 2016 Frontier has now partnered with TSA to offer Pre-Check to eligible customers on Frontier Airlines.