Frontier put out a press release today announcing major changes with a pretty epic headline — “Frontier Enhances Services for Customers Using FlyFrontier.com.” I’ve seen a lot of BS press releases in my life, though that headline is about as close as I’ve ever seen to one from “The Onion.”
So what are they doing to enhance the service for customers booking through their website? Two things:
Charging for carry-on bags
Starting sometime this summer (at a date not yet announced), Frontier will begin charging for carry-ons for those booking tickets through a third party website. Those purchasing tickets through Frontier’s website will continue to get a free carry-on.
Why will they do this? Well only one reason, of course:
“Frontier’s most loyal customers have made it very clear that finding overhead bin space for carry-on bags has become unacceptably difficult. In response, Frontier will be introducing a charge for carry-on bags for customers buying Basic fares through third party sites.”
They’re doing it for us.
Meanwhile all passengers can continue to take on a free personal item which fits underneath the seat, no larger than 18” x 14” x 8”. The reasoning behind the policy aside, am I the only one that sees the practical issues with this? Passengers will continue to bring carry-ons and argue they’re personal items. Something tells me this will lead to delayed flights. Then again, Allegiant and Spirit do this, so maybe not.
Charging for onboard beverages
Starting July 1, 2013, Frontier will begin charging passengers purchasing “Economy” and “Basic” fares $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda, and juice. Water will continue to be free, and those purchasing “Classic” and “Classic Plus” fares, as well as Ascent and Summit level EarlyReturns members will continue to receive free drinks.
And again, this one’s for us, as I’m sure we’ll see a drop in fares starting July 1:
“Frontier continues to make it easier for customers flying with Frontier to pay only for the services they use, which allows us to continue lowering fares,” said Daniel Shurz, Frontier’s senior vice president, commercial.”
US Airways tried to charge for drinks a few years back and it failed. What I see as the bigger issue is that some passengers have to pay for drinks while others don’t. I just pulled up Frontier’s fares for a flight between Denver and Seattle, and it looks like a “Classic” fare is about $25 more than the “Economy” fare, and a “Classic Plus” fare is about $50 more. I assume a fair number of passengers purchase “Classic” and “Classic Plus” fares, so am I the only one that feels bad for the flight attendants that will have to figure out who should pay and who shouldn’t?
While I can appreciate when airlines introduce fees and they make sense for them (as I think is the case with airlines raising domestic change fees — I hate it, but I see why they’re doing it, because I don’t think it will drive passengers away given their previous change fees were already exorbitant), I don’t think this is the right move for Frontier. Yes, you have Allegiant and Spirit, but I’ve always thought of Frontier as being more mid-market, given the markets they operate in. Unlike Allegiant and Spirit, Frontier often publishes identical fares to the legacies, and they have direct competition in most of their markets. So I don’t think this will end well for them, but I guess we’ll see.