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]

Survey Suggests American Airlines Has Rudest Employees Among Domestic Carriers

According to a recent Airfarewatchdog study, a preponderance of surveyed travelers think that of domestic air carriers, American Airlines has the “rudest employees.” United was a close runner-up, followed by Delta.

Ranking last (which in this case, means winner) is a four-way tie, between Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America. Hmm. Seems budget airlines know how to bring it.

Here’s the full list polled in alphabetical order:

AirTran 4%
Alaska 2%
Allegiant 3%
American 25%
Delta 18%
Frontier 2%
JetBlue 2%
Spirit 10%
Southwest 6%
United 21%
US Airways 12%
Virgin America 2%

Our friends at Airfarewatchdog run these unofficial consumer surveys every now and then and this is a great snapshot of the general consumer psyche. Bear in mind though, this data is unsubstantiated and unverified, so take it with a grain of salt. In our experience, most of the airline employees regardless of the airline are pretty darn chipper.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Fabird Blue]

Frontier Drops Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie

Frontier Airlines will stop serving complimentary chocolate chip cookies as of May 1. While this news may be good for our waistline, we’re sad to see the small perk go.

The cookie was a symbol of the “best care in the air” service of the former Midwest Airlines, the Milwaukee BizTimes reported. The airline was acquired by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. and merged into Denver-based Frontier Airlines in 2009.

The airline has suffered mightily of late, cutting jobs and eliminating several routes.

“The company determined that offering a free perishable snack did not align with our low-cost business model,” said Frontier spokeswoman Lindsey Carpenter.

Beginning May 1, Frontier will offer complimentary Pepperidge Farms Goldfish crackers and Barnum’s Animal Crackers for Ascent, Summit, Classic and Classic Plus customers, as well as unaccompanied minors.

“The new animal snack options are non-perishable, run less risk of waste, are a better value and align better with the Frontier brand,” Carpenter said.

Yes, but they’re not nearly as tasty.

[Flickr via Scorpions and Centaurs]

Five Leap Year travel deals worth a look

Travelers taking advantage of Leap Year travel deals might get some of the best bargains, discounts, and special offers available. Travel agents are out in full force this week, and through the end of the month, with special bargains on some of the most popular destinations, properties, and travel options.

“Whether you’re a bona fide ‘leaping’ born on Feb. 29 or just a bargain hunter looking for an excuse to hit the road, plenty of hotels and resorts are trotting out incentives in honor of next Wednesday’s Leap Year Day,” says USA Today.

  1. Frontier Airlines is offering a Leap Year sale with a limited number of seats, a seven-day advance purchase requirement, and a few blackout dates. Sale fares need to be booked by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 29 for travel now through May 9, 2012. Typical deals: $60 from New York to Milwaukee; $101 from Dallas to Denver; and $99 from Los Angeles to Philadelphia.
  2. Florida Marriott properties have Leap Year perks with their “Stay Here, Fly There” promo at participating JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, and Marriott Resorts for two nights over February 28 and 29. The Deal: Get $100 in resort credit along with two, free companion airline ticket vouchers when purchasing two tickets. Taxes are extra. Booking deadline is February 27.
  3. Kimpton Hotels in Virginia has a celebration of Leap Year where travelers can get a jump on spring vacation plans with a 29 percent discount at Kimpton’s three Virginia hotels. The 24-hour “Leap into Spring” sale will take place on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.
  4. Mammoth Mountain ski resort in California has Leap Year babies staying free the night of Feb. 29. The promotion is good at the Mammoth Mountain Inn, Juniper Springs Resort, The Village Lodge, and Tamarack Lodge and Resort, and a valid ID showing proof of the Leap Year birthday is required at check-in.
  5. Carnival Cruise Lines has select rates up to $400 cash back per stateroom, and free upgrades on virtually all sailings from March through December 2012. Book between Monday, February 27 and Thursday, March 1. Carnival is also giving up to $400 cash back per stateroom for 12-day European sailings, and up to $300 cash back per stateroom for their 15-day Transatlantic sailing.

Flickr photo by Foxtongue

Airline industry best and worst of April 2011

The most recent U.S. Department of Transportation data is out, and it’s time for the airlines to brace themselves. The good, the bad and the ugly can be discerned from the data, and numbers are notoriously poor at showing excuses (I mean, “underlying reasons”).

So, let’s start with what looks good. Hawaiian Airlines is most likely to get you to your destination on time, leading U.S. carriers with a 94.1 percent arrival rate. It’s followed by Alaska Airlines at 89.5 percent and AirTran Airways at 82 percent.

At the bottom of the barrel, for on-time arrivals, are ExpressJet Airlines (68 percent), JetBlue (68.4 percent) and Atlantic Southeast Airlines (68.5 percent). Think about it, a third of the time, these airlines won’t arrive on time.

Overall, the airline industry posted an average on-time arrival rate of 75.5 percent. This means that a quarter of the time, they miss the mark. It’s almost as easy as being a weather man!The dubious distinction of having the longest tarmac delay was United Airlines flight 19 from JFK to San Francisco. On April 24, 2011, it sat on the tarmac for a whopping 202 minutes. It was tied by Delta flight 1076 from Atlanta to Salt Lake City only three days later. On the same day that flight 1076’s passengers grew restless, Delta flight 1714 (Atlanta to Ontario, CA), sat on the tarmac for 200 minutes. Twins!

Delta owned three of the four longest tarmac delays of the month – and only four flights had delays of longer than three hours. The remaining flight was Delta flight 823 from Atlanta to Ft Lauderdale, also on April 27. It sat on the tarmac for 185 minutes.

According to Google Maps, it takes 10 hours to drive from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale. Just sayin’.

If you flew American Eagle, your flight was most likely to get canceled: it posted a cancelation rate of 5.1 percent. Following were ExpressJet (3.8 percent) and Atlantic Southeast (3.7 percent). You were better off flying Hawaiian Airlines, which posted a tiny cancelation rate of 0.1 percent. Frontier (0.2 percent) and Continental (0.5 percent) also posted solid stats on this metric.

[photo by Brett L. via Flickr]