Frontier Airlines To Charge More, Reward Less

It came across as a simple tweet of information by Airfarewatchdog: “Frontier charging for carry-on bags if fare not bought on their site. Calls it an ‘enhancement.'” The airfare experts at the site were noting a new policy from Frontier Airlines that goes into effect this summer.

“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 on the Frontier Airlines website.

Should Have Seen It Coming
Presented as a way to reward Frontier’s most loyal customers and reduce the fight for overhead bin space created by checked luggage fees, the airline will begin charging those buying Basic fares through third party sites for carry-on luggage.

Buy a Basic (the lowest) fare through Frontier’s website? No charge for a carry-on
Buy anywhere else? $25 to $100Water Is Probably Still Free
Beverages on Frontier are no longer free either. As part of the airline’s transformation into an Ultra Low Cost Carrier, Frontier will begin charging for on-board beverages on July 1, 2013, with customers who purchase Economy or Basic fares charged $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice, although they will get a full can for the price.

Mileage earned, Mileage burned customers will get 100% of frequent flier miles flown. But starting July 1, 2013, Basic fares will get 50 percent to 25 percent of miles flown.

The big change involves Basic tickets, currently Frontier’s lowest fare sold for travel through outside booking channels, including other travel websites. Frontier frequent fliers in Classic, Classic Plus, Summit and Ascent levels pay nothing for checked or carry-on luggage, beverages (when they show their boarding pass or membership card) and get between 100 percent and 150 percent of their mileage.

Will the move force Frontier air travelers to skip third-party sites and book direct?
@Airfarewatchdog quickly tweeted “That’s the whole purpose.”

Watch here as Frontier Airlines boss Brian Bedford poses as an out of work welder on Undercover Boss:

[Photo credit – Flickr user AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon]

Spirit Airlines’ fee for carry-on bags might be stupid, but it shouldn’t be illegal

Our recent survey of over 5,000 Gadling readers makes clear that a wide majority of travelers think Spirit Airlines’ recently introduced fee for carry-on bags is a horrible idea. I can see their point. Passengers are already grumbling about having to pay extra for things like in-flight snacks, headphones, and checked bags– which were all free just a few years ago– and now Spirit introduces yet another fee into the mix.

But here’s the thing: Much as I dislike Spirit’s decision to charge for carry-on luggage, I don’t think it should be illegal. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood disagree. Sen. Schumer, who said the move by Spirit Airlines was “a slap in the face to travelers,” is planning on introducing legislation that would ban airlines from charging for carry-on luggage.

Secretary LaHood was similarly appalled by the new fee, calling it “outrageous” and saying, “We’re gonna hold the airline’s feet to the fire on this. Because we have an obligation to do it and we have the ability to do it.”

In the world that busybody senators and transportation secretaries inhabit, any arguably incorrect decision a company makes ought to be made illegal. In the real world, companies who make stupid decisions lose customers and go out of business.

As Jeff Jacoby wrote in yesterday’s Boston Globe:

Maybe LaHood imagines that air travelers, like taxpayers, have no choice but to pay whatever they’re told to pay. A lifetime in the public sector may have so calcified his ignorance of how markets function that he simply cannot grasp that passengers who don’t want to pay Spirit’s new carry-on fees can always switch to an airline that doesn’t charge them.

So, by all means, let’s groan about Spirit Airlines’ stupidity, let’s pillory their CEO and call him a fool, let’s never buy a ticket on board their airline for the rest of our lives. But please, before we cry out “there oughta be a law!” let’s remember that companies should be allowed to cater to people with preferences other than our own. A company’s innovative pricing scheme, whether that company is Netflix, Apple, or Spirit Airlines, should live or die on its own merit, not because some government bureaucrat doesn’t like it. Jeff Jacoby hits the nail on the head again:

Spirit’s $30 fee for the use of an overhead bin may well strike people as “outrageous.” But for Washington to bully the airline into rescinding its fee for no better reason than that some passengers don’t like it would be a greater outrage by far.

Read the entire Jacoby article here.