Frontier Airline Charges for Carry on Bags & Drinks - Transitions to Ultra Low Cost Carrier

Frontier Airline is drastically changing the way you fly and is keeping to their slogan—“a Whole Different Animal.” Summer 2013, Frontier Airline policies and onboard experience is getting a facelift and the airline is basically in transition from a low cost carrier to a Hybrid Ultra-Low cost carrier and follow Allegiant and Spirit's leads by charging customers for carry on bags that don’t fit under your seat and instead go in the overhead bin. In addition, free drinks are going by the wayside and mileage accrual is decreasing on select fares.

Although Frontier Airline is changing the rules and asking customers to cough up more dough to carry on their bags, drink their drinks (reminds me of US Airways after 9/11), and decreasing the miles individuals earn per flight, Frontier Airlines will waive these addition fees and provide you with free drinks if tickets are purchased directly from Thus meaning, only those who purchase tickets from third party sites such as Orbitz, Priceline, Expedia, etc are punished for not purchasing directly from Frontier. 

The new rules are as following:

Carry On Bags:

Since Frontier's most loyal customers complain that finding overhead bin space is so difficult in todays’ world—or that’s the excuse frontier is using—those who don’t purchase tickets from Frontier’s website will be charged between $25 and an outrageous $100 for placing bags in overhead bins!! Frontier claims this will open more space in the overhead bins, however in the end we all know this will just increase their ancillary revenue.

Frontier bag fees will be priced as follows:

Fare Type







Summit & Ascent







Classic Plus














Economy: lowest fares



First bag: $20 (when
checking in at or $25
at the airport;
Second bag: $20





Basic: lowest fares
through outside booking



First bag: $20 (when
checking in at or $25
at the airport;

Second bag: $20



$25-100 (customers
enjoy the lowest price
by checking in at


Effective July 1, Frontier loyal Ascent & Summit members will continue to be offered free beverages on board, along with those who purchase Classic and classic plus fares (To understand Frontier Fare structure see my previous post), all others will be required to pay $1.99 for Soda, Juice, coffee, and tea. In an attempt to justify this charge, Frontier Airline will now provide customers with a full can instead of just a plastic cup and those drinking coffee will be offered free refills. In addition, Frontier claims they will be upgrading their beverage selection and will be introducing a premium tea brand and Boyer's Premium 100% Arabica coffee, a Colorado brand.

 Frontier airline has not only stolen the cookie from the cookie jar, but are justifying this new charge by saying in their media release that customers are only being charged for what they use:

“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.

Frontier is proud to have an extensive onboard catering selection that includes a variety of buy on board food options, alcoholic beverages, and premium beverages. As Colorado’s hometown airline, Frontier features Colorado brands in its onboard menu, including Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory fudge, Izze sparkling beverages, and several Colorado-brewed beers.


Mileage Credit

Frontier Airline has some of the lowest redemption rates for award flights within the United States and to Mexico, but now earning miles will become harder for those who frequently use third party sites to book tickets. Frontier Airlines is reducing the number of miles earned per flight from 100% to 25% or 50% when booking through a third party. ONLY those who purchase from will earn full credit. customers always earn a minimum of 100% of frequent flyer miles flown. Economy, Classic and Classic Plus ticket-holders will continue to receive 100%, 125% and 150% of miles flown, respectively, regardless of where booked. However, beginning July 1, 2013, Frontier will be changing its EarlyReturns® mileage accrual rate on Basic fares from 50% to 25% of miles flown.

Frontier Airline is trying to make money and compete effectively against the airline giants, but their changes are customer unfriendly and may drive more people away to other airline. Unless Frontier Airline truly makes the transition to an Ultra Low Cost carrier and can match the ridiculous low fares that Spirit and Allegiant currently offer, Frontier Airline will falter and end up back in bankruptcy or on the chopping block. All airlines are trying to drive traffic away from third party sites and increase sales on their own webpages, but to this day only Southwest Airline has truly been successful at this. Will these policies improve things for Frontier or make them worse? Only time will truly tell.

The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard(R)

Apply for The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard(R)
  • Earn up to 45,000 miles on qualifying transactions, enough for a round trip flight plus taxes and fees from $5.00.
  • Award travel redemptions begins at just 10,000 miles.
  • Enjoy 2 miles per $1 on Frontier Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent everywhere else
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  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details
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Nic May 5, 2013 at 06:49 pm

Wow this article is totally misleading.

@Nic - how so?? everything is taken from the frontier airline media release:

PK May 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

I usually fly international but when I fly domestic, I consider paying extra (all other factors being equal) for a serviced airline rather than Spirit or Frontier. Not only is it a matter of principle but also hassle factor. In general, I've rarely found Spirit's prices competitive anyway. I don't fly southwest because most of my domestic itinerary is along the east coast.

My wife's preferred domestic career is Jetblue. Great service, great planes, and on-time service.

Nic May 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

Maybe if your title said something about third party bookings.

Alex A. May 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

I couldn't agree with you more Rocky. I'm willing to pay a little more for Frontier flight than I would for UA flight because Frontier uses decent A319/A320 on KC - Denver vs UA's turboprops. But that's about the only route where I would give Frontier a preference. I prefer to earn mileage with an airline that has real International network, not just 5 flights a day to Mexico. And of course there aren't many routes where Frontier doesn't compete with Southwest and they don't charge anything for the luggage and frequently their fares are below Frontier's. Frontier's website is a blah and there isn't even an App for printing a boarding pass. Even before they implemented their ridiculous changes, they weren't all that competitive, now it's just a matter of time till they are bought out by new American. Airbus fleet and routes across Western US and to Mexico might work for AA. Sorry Frontier, you must be really clueless to push your customers away.

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