Frontier Airlines Announces ‘The New Frontier’ With No Change Fees And Premium Upgrades

Ultra-low cost carrier Frontier Airlines has been struggling. Their bread and butter leisure routes have seen increased competition from major airlines, who learned to pivot away from relying on business travel. Consumers, flush with a demand for experiences and souped up balance sheets from pandemic payments, traded up for legacy airlines. They don’t have the sort of loyalty revenue that bigger airlines do. And their costs have been rising to attract and retain scarce employees.

CEO Barry Biffle has been willing to try a lot of things, and it’s interesting to watch. He’s also a great marketer. He was the marketing mind at Spirit Airlines back when their ads went viral for having the sense of humor of a 13-year old boy.

Now the airline says it is eliminating change fees on most fares, and that is… sort of true? They’re introducing more “fare bundles” that consumers can buy. And when consumers spend more than the traditional deep discount Frontier Airlines fare, they get waived change fees bundled in with their fare. In some sense this is not even new.

What’s new is offering more upsell packages. Each can mean great value for customers. And they’re delivering more of what consumers seem to want, which is that a large portion of customers are no longer buying travel strictly on schedule and price but are willing to spend more for ‘better than the worst experience’. Until recently Frontier hasn’t had the product that consumers have wanted to buy recently.

Here are the fare families (‘bundles’):

Basic Fare Economy Bundle Premium Bundle Business Bundle
Personal Item Included Included Included Included
Carry-on Available Paid Included Included Included
Early Boarding Available Paid Available Paid Included Included
Advance Seat Selection Available Paid Included (Standard Seats) Included (Premium Seats) Included (UpFront Plus Seats)
Checked Bags Available Paid Available Paid Available Paid Two bags up to 50lb each
Change/Cancel Fee? Yes No No No
Upcharge N/A Starting @ $30 Starting @ $50 Starting @ $100

They’re calling it “The New Frontier” which is both a play on words and a bit of an overclaim. They’re still the same airline, they’re just monetizing it differently. But it is a choice, and bundling benefits offers an easy way to buy and often much better value than buying separately.

In addition Frontier Airlines is:

  • Bringing back 24-hour telephone customer service for some. They eliminated telephone customer service and told customers to use their chat feature in the fall of 2022. Then several months later they eliminated check-in counter service within an hour of your flight. Now, though, elite members of their loyalty program as well as customers who have travel within 24 hours (or who completed travel within 24 hours) can call them on a non-1800 number (801-401-9000).

  • Extending validity of newly-issued credits. Currently a Frontier Airlines flight credit lasts only 90 days which is literally absurd. Existing flight credits will still expire on their original terms. However newly-issued flight credits will expire after 12 months, which is still anything but generous (Southwest Airlines flight credits do not expire at all).

I like what Frontier Airlines is doing, selling empty middle seats. Especially since (1) their planes aren’t full, and (2) they get to sell these empty middles twice (to the person in both the aisle and the window) it makes great sense and it provides greater comfort to the passenger.

Unfortunately Frontier Airlines is simply not an option for my travel, and not only because of how much they scaled back in Austin. They do not offer inflight wifi, which means my a Frontier Airlines ticket is more expensive for me than a competitor’s ticket. The cost is not just the fare, it is my lost productivity.

The focus on more premium options is something great for elite frequent flyers, by the way. Frontier Airlines was the first carrier to make credit card spend count fully towards elite status, predating American Airlines’ move to Loyalty Points. And their elites do get access to their best seats with blocked middles, something that legacy carriers used to offer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As long as Southwest services my destination, I will never fly Frontier. Have the schools and colleges so dumbed down Americans that they buy into the stupidity of Frontier pricing and marketing? One absurd, rip off “fee” after another – by all standards, they suck.

  2. When the Frontier website was updated yesterday morning, it kicked off all of their GoWild Pass/All you can fly pass holders. They can’t book flights anymore. Frontier customer service reps are telling those passengers to wait a few days or few weeks until their IT department is able to fix it. Some customer service reps are booking for those passengers, but some are refusing to book for them. That’s the New Frontier.

  3. I’m all for a la carte pricing. Why pay for carry on or checked luggage if you don’t have any. Wish airlines would do it for first/businesses class. And I’ve enjoyed flights on Frontier, and wish they wouldn’t bundle. Still way cheaper than others though.

  4. I just booked a flight with the new Frontier. A couple of data points: the fare still shows basic fare + services (bags, seats), just that the add-ons now cost much less ($20) than before. The implication is that you might only get the fare back if you cancel, and you might not be able to use a flight credit for the whole fare since the baggage and seat components are technically not part of the fare. Also, cancellations are issued a flight credit, not a refund to the credit card

  5. This is a function of the new disclosure requirements. It’s forcing them to disclose certain elements up front, and they’re choosing to comply with pricing bundles.

    Makes sense to me. Much easier than having to make a dummy booking to see what a bag or seat costs.

  6. The new auxiliary fee disclosure requirements will require every airline to do something like this, as legacy carriers are unlikely to forgo bag & seat upgrade revenue. I actually congratulate Frontier for being 1st to make this change. Other airlines are taking the negative route by using to block the new law

  7. WiFi isn’t necessary for a domestic flight. Instead, enjoy the opportunity to go offline for a moment.

    Frontier’s changes are a great improvement, no doubt. But as with all ULCCs, I still wouldn’t fly them due to the risk of getting stranded during irrops, as they won’t rebook you on another carrier and their own redundancy is limited.

  8. Frontier customers “are willing to spend more for ‘better than the worst experience’.” Love it! I’m not a Frontier customer but can appreciate that.
    So Frontier can sell the empty middle seat to both the window and aisle customer? Does seat B & E include the footrest storage space? Do they know the other person paid for it?

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