Frontier

Two U.S. Airlines Are Cutting Flights To Cuba Altogether

havana

In the second half of last year we saw the major U.S. airlines begin selling tickets for flights to Cuba. It’s no surprise that so many U.S. carriers requested rights to operate routes to Cuba, given that it’s the first time in decades that such flights are possible. I took advantage of that opportunity, and visited Havana in December. I had an… interesting time. I’m happy to have seen Havana, but don’t need to return anytime soon.

However, we’re going from one extreme to the other in terms of airline capacity. While there’s certainly interest among Americans in visiting Cuba, the actual demand isn’t there, at least not to fill the thousands of seats per day that are now operating between the U.S. and Cuba.

While there was a lot of enthusiasm at first, over the past couple of months we’ve heard a lot of airline executives say that they’re in Cuba for the long run, and they don’t plan on making money flying there in the foreseeable future.

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DOT Tentatively Grants 8 Airlines Rights To Fly To Havana — Here Are The Routes

Havana-Flights

Early last year sanctions began to be lifted between the US and Cuba, following the embargo that was in place for decades. This was huge news for those looking to travel to Cuba, since it created more circumstances under which US tourists could visit (and those travel restrictions have been eased even further since then).

What is far from instant, however, is actually restoring commercial flights between the two countries. Air treaties between countries are complicated matters even under normal circumstances, let alone a situation like this, where they’re making up for decades of non-diplomacy.

As I wrote about in February, the US and Cuba signed an agreement to restore commercial service between the two countries. Under this agreement, US airlines could start bidding on routes between the US and Cuba, for up to 110 flights per day.

Only 20 of those daily frequencies could be commercial flights to Havana, though, while the other frequencies would have to be to other cities in Cuba (where there’s presumably a lot less demand). US airlines had a 15 day window where they could request flights to Cuba, so at the end of that we learned of all the flights US carriers wanted to operate to Cuba, which far exceeded the number of available frequencies.

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Spirit & Frontier Are Joining TSA Pre-Check

Spirit-Airlines

The two innovations of the past several years which have made the US travel experience substantially more pleasant have been TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. As a reminder, TSA Pre-Check allows eligible travelers expedited security screening, where they don’t have to take off their shoes, or take their liquids or laptops out of their bags.

Meanwhile Global Entry allows for expedited customs & immigration, where eligible travelers can just use kiosks at immigration, rather than having to queue for an agent.

While Global Entry is valid regardless of which airline you’re flying, TSA Pre-Check requires flying certain airlines which are enrolled in the program. As of now there are 16 airlines enrolled in TSA Pre-Check, including the following (Aeromexico, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, and Seaborne Airlines were added last month):

Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Seaborne Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America and WestJet

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US Airlines Announce Desired Routes To Cuba

Proposed-US-Cuba-Flights

About a year ago sanctions began to be lifted between the US and Cuba, following the embargo which was in place for decades. This was huge news for those looking to travel to Cuba, since it created more circumstances under which US tourists could visit.

What is far from instant, however, is actually restoring commercial flights between the two countries. Air treaties between countries are complicated matters even under normal circumstances, let alone a situation like this, where they’re making up for decades of non-diplomacy.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the US and Cuba have signed an agreement to restore commercial service between the two countries.

Under this agreement, US airlines could start bidding on routes between the US and Cuba, for up to 110 flights per day. Only 20 of those daily frequencies could be commercial flights to Havana, though, while the other frequencies would have to be to other cities in Cuba (where there’s presumably a lot less demand).

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Is It Wrong For Airlines To Raise Baggage Fees Over The Holidays?

Spirit-Airlines

I don’t think there’s an airline which is more transparent and unapologetic about their fee structure than Spirit Airlines. And I mean that as a compliment. Are they for everyone? Nope. But they have really low fares and even with all their fees are typically still less expensive than the competition.

Spirit is raising bag fees this holiday season:

— The price increase is valid for travel between December 16, 2015, and January 4, 2016
— With this increase we’re seeing the price of checked bags go up by $2 this holiday season, regardless of whether you pay for your checked bags when booking the flight, at online check-in, or at the airport

Frontier is being a bit more drastic in raising their baggage fees, with larger increases and also a greater range of applicable date

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Avoid The Frontier Award Fee With One Simple Trick

frontierplane3

Yes, I know, this is my third post about Frontier Early Returns this week. And that’s a lot for what is easily one of the worst frequent flyer programs in the industry. But hey, it’s been five days since United last stranded a planeload of passengers, so what else am I supposed to talk about?

In this post, I’ll discuss an ingenious method for avoiding the $15 “close-in” ticketing fee that I’ve been grumbling about all week.

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Frontier Decides Selling Tickets Is Good. Extends Schedule.

frontierplane2

Earlier this week I wrote about how the Frontier booking window for reservations only extended through October 20th, which was less than four months away. This seemed really odd given that a lot of families and budget travelers in general are starting to think about holiday travel. It was also the shortest booking window among the US carriers, by far.

In that post, I also pointed out that Frontier assesses a $15 “close-in” ticketing fee on award tickets issued for travel within 180 days. That seems kind of ridiculous given that their schedule was only open for 120 days.

Frontier President Responds

“Historically Frontier’s schedule construction delivered a complex operation that resulted in challenges to on-time and reliability performance. The New Frontier has recently spent thousands of man hours and extensive coordination of efforts in producing a simpler operational design to improve the overall customer experience.”

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How Does An Airline Make Money If They Won’t Sell Tickets?

FrontierPlane

Want to fly to Mexico for a late fall getaway? Frontier won’t take your money.

Ready to book travel to visit Grandma in Detroit for Thanksgiving? Frontier would rather you flew Spirit.

I’m not an aviation analyst, but it seems to me that in order for an airline to make money they’ve got to sell tickets. Yet it seems that Frontier can barely be bothered to right now.

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Frontier Removes Departure Time From Boarding Passes… And That’s A Good Thing

Qatar-Airways-Gate

When I first saw the headline that Frontier Airlines has removed departure times from boarding passes, I couldn’t help but think “what is the world coming to?!”

But it actually sort of makes sense. Per USA Today:

“Passengers flying Frontier Airlines will notice something familiar missing from their boarding passes: the departure time.

Instead, Frontier will now list the time that “boarding begins” and the time that the boarding “door closes,” which is 10 minutes prior to a flight’s scheduled departure time.”

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Frontier Being Removed As Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partner

Frontier-Membership-Rewards

In terms of things that aren’t really much of a loss…

Via Travel with Grant, Frontier EarlyReturns will be discontinued as a US American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner as of March 5, 2015:

“Effective March 5, 2015, Frontier Airlines will no longer be a point transfer airline in the Membership Rewards program. Any Membership Rewards point transfers for Frontier Airlines must be made by March 4, 2015. These transfers will be considered final, non-refundable, and subject to the EarlyReturns® program terms and conditions. To transfer points to Frontier, please visit membershiprewards.com/travel.”

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The Cheapest Way To Get From Tampa To New York Is Via…

Frontier-Fare

Last night I was on ITA Matrix looking up the cheapest fares between Tampa and New York. The cheapest one-way ticket was $105, which seemed super reasonable. Great, who am I flying, Delta or JetBlue?

Nope, the cheapest ticket was actually on Frontier… via Denver!

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be thrilled if American published a fare like that, as it would be an absolute mileage bonanza. But on Frontier I’m not quite as hot about the idea, even though their frequent flyer program is based on miles flown. Wonder why. 😉

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The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard is worth considering in some cases…

Links: The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard Application — 25,000 miles after first purchase, 10,000 miles after spending $750 within three months The Frontier Airlines Business MasterCard Application — 25,000 miles after first purchase, 10,000 miles after making a balance transfer within 30 days of account opening I’ll be honest in saying I had never heard…

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