Between 1950-86 Frontier Airlines operated from Denver as an independent carrier but due to financial pressures they were ultimately absorbed into Continental after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Version 2 of Frontier Airlines was formed by many of Version 1’s executives in 1994. M. C. "Hank" Lund become new Frontier’s CEO and the airline quickly won fans as Denver’s local airline after Continental reduced services. Frontier’s fleet consists of smaller jets and turboprops and the airline was Airbus’s launch customer for the A318. The airline partnered with airTran until 2008 when Frontier was forced to file for Bankruptcy protection (again). Discounter Southwest attempted to buy Frontier but were beaten by Republic Airways Holdings which also purchased Kansas based Midwest Airlines which it merged into Frontier in 2011. Each Frontier aircraft is painted in a unique livery depicting wildlife of the Rockies. Another first for a discount US carrier is their faith in the hub and spoke system which other no-frill airlines shun.
Frontier’s long suffering staff deliver an ordinary on board experience. The main function of crew seems to be dispensing snacks from the trolley and helping to sell things. Crew are friendly enough but the insides of a Frontier aircraft and the experience is basically like any other American airline. It’s very easy to forget the flight. Crew are conservatively attired in a uniform not dissimilar to United’s.
Frontier provide excellent connections from and too Denver, Milwaukee, Omaha City and Kansas City to other cities around the US. With Frontier's focus on America's mid state, they are the ultimate airline of the US's Fly Over Country. They also fly to several resort destinations in Mexico and Costa Rica. As Frontier operates a hub and spoke system, their services do go from coast to coast.
Frontiers airfares, like most domestic airlines in the US, are cheap. If you are going to and from their hub cities they can often be the best choice as well as being reasonably priced at all times. More expensive fares can be purchased which allow greater flexibility. These can be handy if you think your travel plans may change.
If you enjoy 7-Eleven cuisine then you’ll be thrilled by the selection of sugary junk food snacks and lousy coffee that Frontier provide its passengers for a charge. If you actually wish to enjoy a salad or something that resembles a traditional meal you will be sorely disappointed. Frontiers catering resembles something you’d get at a baseball game and served in the same way – paper or plastic plates, aluminium cans and foil. Planes can be under catered and it is not uncommon for selections to run, especially if a flight has been delayed.
Frontier pioneered DirecTV as their entertainment option. A simple credit card swipe will connect you to 24 channels of popular US cable-TV style entertainment. While this is championed as a major achievement for the airline, other global carriers provide superior entertainment for free. DirecTV screens are not large. The airline also has an inflight magazine full of advertisements and stories designed to attract advertisers.
If you experience good ground service at Frontier its probably because the agent you met was a nice person, rather than anything the airline has done. Essentially Frontiers ground service is the same as everyone else’s and is rarely good. Like all discount carriers, financial pressures require them to have a minimum of staff, so if something goes wrong, queues and tempers are stretched. Baggage handlers are poorly paid and have a carefree attitude about whether your bags make it on the plane or not.
Frontier is a low cost carrier and operates all flights as Economy however the airline does provide different ticketing types which allow a degree of flexibility. But so do the others.
If you want to get from A to B on time with a modest amount of baggage then Frontier is perfectly fine and similar to almost every other US domestic carrier. The quality of service and catering is also the same and if you open your wallet you can watch TV and buy some snacks.
Frontier’s EarlyReturns loyalty scheme has little value beyond Frontier flights. Unless you are a super regular traveller in one of their primary cities it’s hard to imagine any reason you would join. If you enjoy adding another card to your wallet then you might appreciate joining. Like all schemes points are earned for flights and redeemed for flights. As Frontier is not partnered to other carriers, hotels or car rental companies you would need to travel extensively to rise to a higher status.
America’s airline industry struggles from over competition and excessive de-regulation which does encourage airline executives to cut corners to cut costs. Frontier operates under the same pressures and has slashed pay and conditions for its employees to survive its recent bankruptcy. However many employees do seem to be fond of Frontier which are seen as not being as ruthless as others.
Frontier prides itself on having an excellent safety record and winning the FAA’s Diamond award every year since 1999. These awards are given to airlines who exceed safety requirements, so while other airlines like Southwest, slash maintenance to boost profits, Frontier apparently puts safety first.
A standard low cost US carrier that provides an unmemorable service in almost every regard.
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