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It’s not April Fool’s or Backwards Day, yet reportedly ultra low cost carrier Frontier Airlines is considering adding first class to its planes. That would be another great reason you’d want to take advantage of their incredibly generous status match offer up to top tier, and even matching against hotel and cruise status.
- It’s unclear what this would look like, whether it’s a traditional first class with included catering, or just a “Big Front Seat” along the lines of Spirit Airlines.
- Frontier CEO Barry Biffle led marketing at Spirit when that low cost carrier decided to offer their Big Front Seat product for the odd reason that it was too expensive to remove and replace those seats from aircraft (it would have cost them $3 million).
There are passengers interested in paying more for a better product, and ignoring those might be leaving money on the table.
In an effort to find new high-margin revenue streams, these budget carriers are weighing the possibility of offering premium-priced products and services, including first-class seats, customer lounges, and branded foods.
Frontier CEO Barry Biffle has noticed a greater desire among leisure travelers to pay for first-class seats on domestic flights and is closely monitoring this trend. He stated, “If people are really willing to pay that much for a premium, maybe there is an opportunity.”
Similarly, Sun Country, another ultra-low-cost carrier, is considering opening an airport lounge and offering branded food and beverage, as CEO Jude Bricker has observed an increased demand for services that improve the travel experience.
Frontier today offers its own premium seating product: extra legroom ‘Stretch’ seats. In March, Biffle indicated a desire to stick with their current product instead of moving towards a Spirit Airlines premium offering.
On the other hand, Brian Sumers reports that Biffle this month said that the changing revenue environment means they’ll be focused on new strategies – although he described that to mean “simplifying our business even more and doubling down on costs.” That leads me to be skeptical of this report.
At the same time, a fee-based buy up option for customers interested in a premium product isn’t a stretch for the carrier.
Low cost carrier Sun Country, which used to offer a first class before switching to a more Allegiant-style business model, offering a club lounge in Minneapolis is an interesting idea.
- It’s easier and lower-risk to experiment on the ground.
- It also serves as a poke in the eye at Delta, which operates a major hub in Minneapolis and has been driving to exclude customers from its lounges – banning those traveling on the cheapest fares; raising the price of membership and restricting who can purchase it; limiting entries by premium credit card customers who spend under $75,000 a year on the product; among other measures.
Sun Country might sell one-off or subscription-based access to an airport lounge. And, unlike a first class cabin, wouldn’t mean removing seats and operating at a higher cost per seat overall. While Frontier or Sun Country could make the speculated changes, I’m not sure it’s more likely than not that either airline will.
Frontier of course lacks inflight internet, which is why I consider flying Spirit but not Frontier. But that status match to 100K, which waives all of the fees on the fee-based airline, will make sense for many.