Frontier or Spirit Airlines

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mw1739
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Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by mw1739 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:57 am

Looking for recent experiences with either Spirit Airlines or Frontier. It's long been my policy that my income and net worth allow me to book more expensive flights with the larger carriers to preserve my safety and reduce the hassle factor. However, I've run into a situation where both Spirit and Frontier have far better flight times and airfares roughly half the cost of the legacy carriers, even including all the miscellaneous add on fees.

Would I regret selecting either of these carriers for a 4 hour flight across the country? My primary concerns are arriving on-time and avoiding delays etc., which I know tips the scales in favor of the big carriers. The fees don't bother me so much and I would likely upgrade to an exit row or extra leg room seat anyway.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:04 am

One of our recent vacations used Spirit. As I'm sure you've found, they nickle and dime like you read about. But after adding all the seat choice fees and paying for one checked bag between the 4 of us, it was still significantly cheaper than anyone else. I also loved the non-reclining seats. Why? Because I didn't have to worry about the teenage brat in front of me deciding that he was going to go into full "gangsta lean" on his seat and end up in my lap. I found these gave me noticeable extra room. You do bring up a good concern. If you miss a connection, you're going to be more stuck than you would with a major airline in a major connection hub. But are Spirit hubs different from majors? I know I'll do anything I can to stay away from Chicago O'Hare as a connection. But Midway isn't busy and doesn't have the nick name "where all on time flights end" like O'Hare does. If you're flying alone, Spirit can save you significant money if you don't need to pay the added nickles.
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cuendillar
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by cuendillar » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:09 am

I have flown both and recently took a 4 1/2 round-trip flight on Spirit. I only fly Spirit or Frontier when there aren't better choices, either because of cost or weird flight times. Both are cramped and tend to have service on the lower-end (e.g. no free nuts here). Plus a new "feature" on Spirit is them hustling their credit card offer during the flight, several times. Seats are closer, so it's more cramped. Everything costs extra. And they try to upsell constantly. Plus the last time I flew with either they didn't have the customary storage compartments behind the seats (where the magazines and such are usually kept). I vaguely remember planes not have these back when smoking was still permitted, so it made me wonder how old the planes were. That said, I made it safely and the cost was super-cheap.

stan1
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by stan1 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:15 am

I think the biggest risk of Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant is impact if your flight is cancelled. On the majors you'll likely get to your destination the same day, maybe the next day, very seldom a longer delay. May be a much longer delay if the airline only flies the route once per day or in some cases maybe only 2 or 3 times per week. For me it is generally not worth it. However I live in a city with a large Southwest presence and am perfectly happy flying them.

BogleLearner
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by BogleLearner » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:16 am

We have inown of people left on the runway with Frontier -
cancelled flight with the next flight 2 days after. This was
several years ago - so perhaps this has improved.

alfaspider
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by alfaspider » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:25 am

I will fly Spirit/Frontier occasionally for a very quick trip where I can get by with nothing but a personal item. However, I haven't flown with them since I got status with United through work travel and have been able to mostly redeem miles for personal travel.

Sub $100 round trip fares can make a quick getaway worthwhile when paying for the majors can make the same trip feel frivolous. But you have to know what you are getting into. If you aren't careful, you can end up paying as much as the majors for far less service. One other perk if you are larger or want more space is that the "big front" seats provide first class space at a fraction of the cost (because they are not bundled with first class service).

Be warned that the experience has a very low-end feel. The last time I flew Spirit, they watched bag size like hawks- just hoping to get you on an oversized bag. There are lots of "gotchas" on check in fees. Most employees were surly (even compared to United, which aren't exactly candy stripers). Seat pitch is below most other airlines as well, meaning you will feel the squeeze. Due to the low price and target demographic, you are much likely to be seated by noisy kids than the majors. On-time performance is also seriously sub par. If you can live with all that, it can be a reasonable way to save money.
Last edited by alfaspider on Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ruger
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Ruger » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:47 am

I flew Spirit once and hated it so much that I decided I would never fly them again. The seats and plane in general was worn and dirty, like it was a retired plane they bought off a major carrier. Seats were cramped, wouldn't recline, padding was so thin in bottom cushion it was barely tolerable to sit on. Charge you for everything, even water.
I recently compared prices for a flight I am taking and found that by the time you add on carry on baggage, checked baggage, and fees for a drink they are just as expensive or more expensive than other carriers. And if not, my comfort and feeling of safety are worth spending extra money on.
I'm cheap, but not that cheap!

Hulu
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Hulu » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:56 am

Canceled flights are the major drawback because they have so few each day. If cancelation is either unlikely or unimportant I have found both to be great values.

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BogleFanGal
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by BogleFanGal » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:27 am

I love a deal as much as the next boglehead...but I will never fly spirit or frontier...no matter how tempting the price. Ever. For all the reasons already mentioned. I'll save the money somewhere else.
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

bernoulli
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by bernoulli » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:46 am

We flew Frontier for the first time last summer and it was fine, no delays, no issues whatsoever.

Deblog
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Deblog » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:55 am

This last summer I warned my sister-in-law not to fly frontier. It saves money so she booked anyway. Luckily I warned her to push vacation a week sooner so grandson made it home in time for school starting in case flight is cancelled. Cmh to Orlando delayed a whole day on way down. Way back, flight cancelled again!! Was going to be several days to get home. She met several college girls that had to get back so they paid her for her to rent a car and they drove home to Ohio. She was happy though because she got free vouchers and is retired so no work issues for her. College girls covered cost of car.

rasta
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by rasta » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:18 pm

i would rather have a root canal than fly spirit airlines.

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mw1739
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by mw1739 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:25 pm

Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Some people seem to like them, but when it goes wrong it gets really bad. Guess I will continue avoiding them.

rooms222
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by rooms222 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:41 pm

Spirit has the youngest fleet age of all.....6.6 years. https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/07/ ... lines.aspx

In fact the plane mentioned above with no seat pocket is likely less than three years old. Spirit started following in the footsteps of Ryanair, as having no seat pocket is one less thing to clean when turning the aircraft.

https://milestomemories.boardingarea.co ... ine-seats/


Also Spirit was the most on-time airline in the first quarter of 2019....https://www.forbes.com/sites/grantmarti ... c055bd14a1

gtg970g
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by gtg970g » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:56 pm

We fly Frontier on a regular basis to visit family in the bay area. It is MUCH cheaper than the legacy carriers even with fees added. We understand the risk of flight cancellations but it is worth the risk for us since at worst we would be stuck with family (or at home) a few extra days (we only take direct flights).

staustin
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by staustin » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:12 pm

Firm believer in living below your means.. small home, 10 year old paid for cars. That said, there are things we will spend money on; organic food, quality shoes and travel (experiences). I'll consider flying spirit or frontier only if i'm alone and don't have a rushed schedule. I'd never fly them with my family. Cramped planes, uncomfortable seats and, most importantly, flights that go to certain destinations many times only twice a week could cause be a serious issue.

02nz
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by 02nz » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:31 pm

alfaspider wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:25 am
Seat pitch is below most other airlines as well, meaning you will feel the squeeze.
This can't be emphasized enough. Think of the last time you flew on United or American (not in economy plus or main cabin extra). Felt pretty cramped, right? Now take away another 2-3 inches of leg room. That's Spirit.

b42
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by b42 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:33 pm

I flew Frontier for the first time about a month ago from Philadelphia to Pensacola. No issues, and the plane was newer than expected, and the service was great as well. I'd use them again.

TravelGeek
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by TravelGeek » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:58 pm

Four hours? I’d not do four hours in a regular economy seat on any airline (if there are alternatives), only exit row or Economy Plus/Premium Class/whatnot that gives my legs some much needed space.

And as others have pointed out, Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant and Sun Country don’t follow the hub and spokes model of other major carriers and often just have a few flights on each route... per week. If you miss it or they cancel for some reason, you may be out of luck.

blastoff
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by blastoff » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:45 pm

[Post removed by admin LadyGeek]
This is the best way to put it. My biggest problem would be neighbors e who normally do not fly.
I'd agree that having options in case of cancellations makes sense though. More than once, I had to fly a couple of hours in the wrong direction to catch a flight in the right direction, thanks to having options.
[/quote]

This is generally correct for spirit. Depends on route. But the people difference is noticeable. I've also sat next to a nice late 50s couple on spirit that we're going to visit their son at some ivy league school and seemed like the somewhat modest people worth 3-5million that often post on here.

Short to medium direct flights is when I would consider for using spirit.

They have gotten a bit better with on time performance. But, high load factor and not a giant network means a cancelled plane can have a snowball effect.

But the spirit deals can be good if that is what you value. I flew 1.5hr non stop routes for $30-$55 for most of the time. I decided to do that instead of $180-$220 on major carriers. But I would never take an 8a spirit flight to be at a noon meeting that was really important.

A final thought:
Google for bad spirit reviews.
Now Google "[insert major airline here you think is good] is the worst".

Spirit is worse. But people will complain about anything. Half the spirit complaints are just people that can't read or follow instructions.

megabad
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by megabad » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:22 pm

mw1739 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:57 am
Would I regret selecting either of these carriers for a 4 hour flight across the country?
I fly Frontier every once in a while and have no regrets but here are three caveats:

1) Don't be a noob when it comes to fees. Know the fees and either be prepared to pay them without complaint or know how to avoid them. 99% of the complaints I hear are from people who apparently don't read the rules.

2) the seats are tiny on the modified Airbus. If you are heavy/wide, you will have a problem and they may discuss this with you. At the very least you will be uncomfortable. I am a pretty physically fit male and I am mildly uncomfortable in a middle seat (and I almost always get one). Anyone over what I would call thin would likely be unhappy on a long flight. I fly about 2 hours flight time one way regularly and this is about my limit.

3) Frontier is far more reliably on time than United and Southwest (look it up). I can attest to this anecdotally as well. If you fly to/from a hub before the last flight time, I feel safe. If you are flying to a one flight per day destination, you are playing it risky no matter what airline you choose. Never fly the last flight.

dboeger1
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by dboeger1 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 4:55 pm

I used to fly Frontier years ago before they followed the Spirit Air model, and the way they handled the transition is why I won't fly them anymore out of principle. Frontier used to be a pretty normal budget mostly regional airline that provided similar service to the majors and competed with them on price. And I'm totally willing to accept that it probably wasn't a very profitable business model, which is most likely why they changed to the pay-for-everything model. That's fine, business as usual. But when they made the transition, they didn't immediately lower their prices to compensate, so there was a time where they were charging only every so slightly less than the majors but then nickel-and-diming for everything like Spirit, which made no sense for the passengers. Even then, I chose to fly them because they had frequent service from wherever I was at the time to Kansas City, which is not a big destination for the majors.

But I remember the last flight I took with them, the shift in tone of customer service did a complete 180-degree turn from unusually friendly to really leaning in to the nickel-and-diming business model. The young lady who boarded in front of me had a carry-on bag which nobody at ticketing questioned her about, and it was approximately the size of the test bin at the gate (which anybody who flies often knows is usually bunk anyway, as nobody adheres to the test bin unless they have a small laptop or something, and nobody ever gets called out on it unless their bag simply can't fit on the plane). Well, the gate agent immediately asked her if he could test the size of her bag, and she allowed him to. He barely even tried before giving up and asking her to pay to check it in. I watched the whole thing, and it was obvious it would have fit had the zipper not gotten caught on the side, but he didn't put in the attention she deserved. She ended up paying for the bag.

I could maybe write that off as one employee's bad attitude, but again, the whole staff just felt kind of cold and unfriendly, and it aligned perfectly with the change in business model (I had flown as recently as 6 months before then and had a much better experience). So I put 2 and 2 together and figured it was the suits trying to have their lunch and eat it too. I'm not surprised they're having to compete with Spirit on ticket prices now, but my feeling is that it was due to customer complaints and leaving for other airlines, rather than Frontier's generosity and passion for customer service.

Johio
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Johio » Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:05 pm

DW and I have flown both Frontier and Spirit, 2 1/2 hr each way. I will never fly Spirit again. Dirty, seats astonishingly uncomfortable, and our experience has been that their departure times are mere suggestions. Frontier is marginally better, but not by much. At various times of the year, Southwest is an option, which is significantly better than Spirit or Frontier.

At this point if Frontier or Spirit are our only choices for direct flight, we will fly Delta or United, knowing there is a connection. A PIA for sure, but better than Spirit or Frontier.

CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:04 pm

Frontier Airlines: the only time I've ever seen a trash bag used as carry-on luggage. Nooooo thank you.

MarkBarb
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by MarkBarb » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:18 pm

We used Spirit a few times. I liked that they split out charges so that you pay for what you use. I carry expensive camera gear with me and their carry-on prices discourage over-consumption, so I never had a problem finding a place for my carry-on bag.

We stopped flying Spirit after they almost ruined our spring break. We showed up at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning for our flight only to find that they had canceled the flight. They don't code share, so they didn't have much access to other flights. The best they could come up with was to fly us out on Tuesday. I did some research afterwards and found this is a fairly regular occurrence for them. To keep costs low, they don't have much surplus capacity and can't easily cope during busy times if something goes wrong. As a result, we won't fly them again and I'd recommend against them for anything other than a trip where your schedule is not important or a cancellation won't be a problem.

discman017
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by discman017 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:31 pm

We fly out of Denver and fly Frontier all the time. Their "kids fly free" program is fantastic. They have nonstop flights from Denver to places that no one else flies. Best selection of nonstop flights, best prices, and kids are free. What's not to like?

We never pay for seat assignments. Usually the best strategy is to wait to check in until a few hours before the flight and take whatever they give you. We get seats near the front of the plane, all in the same row, which would have cost $30 or so each if we'd paid for them in advance.

We used to fly Southwest regularly, but these days even with the checked luggage fees, Frontier is significantly less expensive. So we fly Frontier nearly every time. Again, this is out of Denver, where they have the best flight selection.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:11 pm

Is this the choice they give you at the gates of hell?
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

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Summit111
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Summit111 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:18 pm

Spirit never again...Flew from New Orleans to Houston Intercontinental on a Friday. Tried checking in online for my Sunday return flight...App and Spirit website would not allow this.

Called and spoke to the offshore call center and was told: “Mr. Summit, you did not board your flight to Houston on Friday, so your return ticket was cancelled. But you can purchase a return ticket!”

I replied that I did fly to Houston on my assigned flight, and had a copy of the boarding pass with me. It took over two hours of going through the phone tree and getting to some supervisor when they agreed to issue another ticket free of charge.

I told them to check with the TSA security cameras and ticket agent documentation at the New Orleans gate.

In over 40 years of business travel both domestic and foreign, this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me. Never have I’ve experienced such incompetence...

Never again...
Summit
“Got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind!” Snoop Dog

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ram
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by ram » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:53 pm

Last year frontier cancelled my flight on both outbound and inbound and "automatically" rebooked me on another flight such that travelling time was extended by 2 days and time at destination declined from 5 days to 3 days. There were 12 to 20 hours between connections. The Email they sent me was:
Click "agree" if you agree.
or
Call 1-800 xxxxx

Then I had to be on a long hold to get my money back. I will never use them again.
Ram

SoAnyway
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by SoAnyway » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:05 pm

mw1739 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:25 pm
Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Some people seem to like them, but when it goes wrong it gets really bad. Guess I will continue avoiding them.
Thanks for posting, OP. I'm in the process of relocating to a city where the only airlines with daily direct flights between my new home and a city I'll frequently visit to see family are Spirit and Frontier. :( Southwest has one direct flight once a week in each direction. (That will be my first choice of course on the go-forward, but schedules might not always align. I'm dreading that one aspect of the move....)

SoAnyway, since I'd never flown either Spirit or Frontier, as a "test run", I went onto both websites to "hypothetically" book a trip for the December holidays. Both were touting their $29 each way fares vs. $300 RT direct on Southwest if schedules align or ~$350-400 on a major airline with a layover somewhere. I knew $29 each way was too good to be true; sure enough, then came all the marketing gimmicks: Oh you want a "seat"? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to bring a personal item? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to bring a carry-on bag? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to check a bag? (That costs $x additional.) On and on and on.... I can do math, but this was just wasting my time and insulting my intelligence.

It got worse: Then came the OTHER marketing gimmicks from Spirit and Frontier: Both airlines took every opportunity to inform me that I could avoid all this "brain hurt" by simply signing up for one of their "subscription packages" at $X/yr., dep. which you choose that includes various items from the above menu, and generally brought the price for a flight with what I consider essentials above Southwest and the majors.

I sincerely hope that another airline (paging JetBlue....) jumps in on this route and/or that Southwest expands the # flights. In any case, even apart from the other points re. comfort/flightmates/delays/cancellations/etc. from those with experience above (thanks to all for those replies to this thread! :)), I suspect that neither Spirit nor Frontier are likely to be a good choice for a BH. It appears their target audience is the portion of the population easily swayed by the initial advertised "deal" (e.g. 29 bucks) and doesn't have the time/patience/intelligence/whatever to parse through the details.....

EDIT - Correction: Either might be a good choice for a BH who has lots of spare time, can deal with the inconveniences (or "adventures", dep. on one's perspective), and actually enjoys parsing through/thinking through/analyzing all the marketing gimmicks designed to reel in folks and separate them from their hard-earned money....
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GuyInFL
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by GuyInFL » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:25 pm

stan1 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:15 am
I think the biggest risk of Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant is impact if your flight is cancelled. On the majors you'll likely get to your destination the same day, maybe the next day, very seldom a longer delay. May be a much longer delay if the airline only flies the route once per day or in some cases maybe only 2 or 3 times per week. For me it is generally not worth it. However I live in a city with a large Southwest presence and am perfectly happy flying them.
I like the direct flights of Frontier and Allegiant. I recently had a Frontier flight cancel and just bought a replacement ticket on Delta. Frontier paid for all but $50 plus gave me a voucher for a round trip ticket on Frontier. Very new planes and I think all the US airlines are safe.
I recently had a Southwest flight cancel in a time-sensitive situation and bought a replacement ticket on Frontier at a higher price. No compensation from Southwest except a refund.

abner kravitz
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by abner kravitz » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:25 pm

I have never flown one of these bargain airlines, but I will in a couple of weeks. I couldn't pass up an $84 (round trip) non-stop Savannah to Providence on Allegiant. No luggage, no overhead bin, no seat assignment provided. Fortunately I can carry all I need in a small bag that I can hold or put under the seat. My thinking is that the experience is pretty bad on all the airlines these days, how much worse could this be? Guess I'll find out.

peseta
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by peseta » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:26 pm

02nz wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:31 pm
alfaspider wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:25 am
Seat pitch is below most other airlines as well, meaning you will feel the squeeze.
This can't be emphasized enough. Think of the last time you flew on United or American (not in economy plus or main cabin extra). Felt pretty cramped, right? Now take away another 2-3 inches of leg room. That's Spirit.
I'm a tall guy, and flew Spirit recently on a short flight. For whatever it's worth, my experience was that the legroom was actually not as bad as I feared. I think two reasons why: (1) no recline (anyone tall whose kneecaps have been taken out on other airlines will appreciate this), and (2) the seats are slimline without seat pocket, which restores some of the legroom:

https://milestomemories.boardingarea.co ... ine-seats/

I actually found the experience better than some legacy airline seats I've had recently (AA regional jets, I'm looking at you). While I wouldn't want to fly Spirit cross-country, I think they're fine for flights under, say, 2.5 hours.

Supposedly the airline has been doing a lot to try to improve on its bad reputation. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience overall.

peseta

SoAnyway
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by SoAnyway » Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:53 pm

abner kravitz wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:25 pm
I have never flown one of these bargain airlines, but I will in a couple of weeks. I couldn't pass up an $84 (round trip) non-stop Savannah to Providence on Allegiant. No luggage, no overhead bin, no seat assignment provided. Fortunately I can carry all I need in a small bag that I can hold or put under the seat. My thinking is that the experience is pretty bad on all the airlines these days, how much worse could this be? Guess I'll find out.
peseta wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:26 pm
Supposedly the airline has been doing a lot to try to improve on its bad reputation. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience overall.
AK and peseta, thank you for your posts! Abner, please report back after your flight. OP, I don't mean to hijack (how ironic) your thread. However, as peseta pointed out, perhaps these ultra-budget airlines are willing to change. I'm willing to stay open-minded....
Nothing in this post constitutes legal or medical advice. | Consult your attorney or physician to verify if/how anything stated might or might not be applicable to your specific situation.

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Nate79
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Nate79 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:07 pm

I recently saw it stated that "Friends don't let friends fly Spirit."

TallBoy29er
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by TallBoy29er » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:26 pm

I don't consider either one of them for traveling. Then again, I live in a Delta hub, so fair to say that may be influencing my stance.

blastoff
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by blastoff » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:54 am

peseta wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:26 pm
02nz wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:31 pm
alfaspider wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:25 am
Seat pitch is below most other airlines as well, meaning you will feel the squeeze.
This can't be emphasized enough. Think of the last time you flew on United or American (not in economy plus or main cabin extra). Felt pretty cramped, right? Now take away another 2-3 inches of leg room. That's Spirit.
I'm a tall guy, and flew Spirit recently on a short flight. For whatever it's worth, my experience was that the legroom was actually not as bad as I feared. I think two reasons why: (1) no recline (anyone tall whose kneecaps have been taken out on other airlines will appreciate this), and (2) the seats are slimline without seat pocket, which restores some of the legroom:

https://milestomemories.boardingarea.co ... ine-seats/

I actually found the experience better than some legacy airline seats I've had recently (AA regional jets, I'm looking at you). While I wouldn't want to fly Spirit cross-country, I think they're fine for flights under, say, 2.5 hours.

Supposedly the airline has been doing a lot to try to improve on its bad reputation. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience overall.

peseta
I agree. I'm 6'2-6'3. Athletic type build. Spirit is fine for shorter flights. Southwest is noticeably better than most major airlines for legroom.

One can Google seat pitch in various airlines. Do note that seats have gotten thinner over time.

blastoff
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by blastoff » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:58 am

SoAnyway wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:05 pm
mw1739 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:25 pm
Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Some people seem to like them, but when it goes wrong it gets really bad. Guess I will continue avoiding them.
Thanks for posting, OP. I'm in the process of relocating to a city where the only airlines with daily direct flights between my new home and a city I'll frequently visit to see family are Spirit and Frontier. :( Southwest has one direct flight once a week in each direction. (That will be my first choice of course on the go-forward, but schedules might not always align. I'm dreading that one aspect of the move....)

SoAnyway, since I'd never flown either Spirit or Frontier, as a "test run", I went onto both websites to "hypothetically" book a trip for the December holidays. Both were touting their $29 each way fares vs. $300 RT direct on Southwest if schedules align or ~$350-400 on a major airline with a layover somewhere. I knew $29 each way was too good to be true; sure enough, then came all the marketing gimmicks: Oh you want a "seat"? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to bring a personal item? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to bring a carry-on bag? (That costs $x additional.) Oh you want to check a bag? (That costs $x additional.) On and on and on.... I can do math, but this was just wasting my time and insulting my intelligence.

It got worse: Then came the OTHER marketing gimmicks from Spirit and Frontier: Both airlines took every opportunity to inform me that I could avoid all this "brain hurt" by simply signing up for one of their "subscription packages" at $X/yr., dep. which you choose that includes various items from the above menu, and generally brought the price for a flight with what I consider essentials above Southwest and the majors.

I sincerely hope that another airline (paging JetBlue....) jumps in on this route and/or that Southwest expands the # flights. In any case, even apart from the other points re. comfort/flightmates/delays/cancellations/etc. from those with experience above (thanks to all for those replies to this thread! :)), I suspect that neither Spirit nor Frontier are likely to be a good choice for a BH. It appears their target audience is the portion of the population easily swayed by the initial advertised "deal" (e.g. 29 bucks) and doesn't have the time/patience/intelligence/whatever to parse through the details.....

EDIT - Correction: Either might be a good choice for a BH who has lots of spare time, can deal with the inconveniences (or "adventures", dep. on one's perspective), and actually enjoys parsing through/thinking through/analyzing all the marketing gimmicks designed to reel in folks and separate them from their hard-earned money....
I think one could argue that this entire website is a bit dedicated to avoiding fees and gimmicks designed to separate folks from their hard earned money.

sjt
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by sjt » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:08 am

Last year I tried to save $200 by flying the family on Frontier from LA (Ontario) to Raleigh. Flight was on a Monday - we show up to the airport to learn the flight is cancelled (no calls, texts, emails, etc). We were told we had two options, get a refund or book on the next available flight (Not until Thursday!!!!) Without somewhere to stay for 3 days and needing to get back to work, we were forced to find flights through a reputable airline for the next day and ended up spending about $2000 more than simply booking a major airline from the start (And another $150 on a dumpy hotel room).

tl;dr - I tried to save $200 but ended up spending over 10x that. Never again, frontier. I now consider it the cost of an education.
"The one who covets is the poorer man, | For he would have that which he never can; | But he who doesn't have and doesn't crave | Is rich, though you may hold him but a knave." - Wife of Bath tale

Colorado13
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Colorado13 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:38 am

I've only flown 3 times this year and have had delayed flights every single time, supposedly due to Denver weather. I try to avoid Frontier (which lost my luggage on a direct flight; I only checked the bag because it was cheaper than the carry on fee) and have never flown Spirit.

I recently had limited flight options when traveling for a family emergency and I flew Frontier and United. Frontier was on time, United was delayed and oversold. Had it not been an emergency, I would not have considered Frontier.

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beyou
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by beyou » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:57 pm

Flew Frontier last year.
My flight was around 8am, while waiting for the boarding, they told us that the mechanic who will do the final check had not yet arrived at the airport so we had to wait. They gave us frequent updates as to the location of the mechanic's car enroute to the airport. When he finally arrived they told us he needed 10 minutes to inspect the plane and we could board. Really 10 minutes to inspect a Boeing jet ? Maybe that's is the procedure at all airlines, but they don't all have just one mechanic and don't all admit to only a paper inspection of the aircraft. Also was a bit annoyed, I take early flights on the theory they are least likely to be late. I drove on the same highway to get to the same airport, why was the mechanic late if I was on time ? I didn't travel by helicopter !

Note while waiting for this mechanic, another passenger on an earlier flight was also waiting, and they were postponed to leave even later than us.
They also told us they were bumped last time, despite arriving very early for their flight.

The plane was nice inside, the crew polite, but Frontier is run like a mom and pop shop, my wife refused to try them again in the future given
our experience and that of those we met in the terminal. That said, I don't think much of most airlines, and would consider Frontier if they were the most convenient option. I like flying from small regional airports, where often there are a limited number of airlines and flights. I took them only because the other option in same airport was Southwest, who had no direct flights that morning and Frontier did. Nonstop flight is my main criteria in selecting an airline, not the price nor reputation for reliability (since all have troubles at times). I recall years ago noticing bigger seats on AA coach, and then reading an article months later that AA planned to reconfigure the seats to cram in more people.....causing me to lose any bias to AA nor any interest in frequent flier miles with any airline.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by sunny_socal » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:45 am

Neither, unless you're traveling alone without any luggage whatsoever. They nickel dime you if you want anything beyond the bare flight (eg. seat selection and luggage)

Otherwise I recommend Alaska for a low-cost airline. Overall they are still cheaper than Southwest while offering a similar level of baggage/service/comfort.

Dasnyc
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Dasnyc » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:54 am

BogleFanGal wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:27 am
I love a deal as much as the next boglehead...but I will never fly spirit or frontier...no matter how tempting the price. Ever. For all the reasons already mentioned. I'll save the money somewhere else.
+100000000

poker27
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by poker27 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:10 am

I've flown Spirit twice, and it was fine both times. Actually exceeded my expectations to be honest. I also upgraded to the 'big seat' for a trip, and it was quite nice.

oxothuk
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by oxothuk » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:03 pm

I never even consider flying Sprit or Frontier but I'm glad they are around to maintain some price pressure on the airlines I DO fly.

TravelGeek
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by TravelGeek » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:17 pm

oxothuk wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:03 pm
I never even consider flying Sprit or Frontier but I'm glad they are around to maintain some price pressure on the airlines I DO fly.
What they seem to have accomplished is for the majors to introduce Basic Economy with fewer benefits than regular economy, at for the most part the same price as regular economy in the past. In other words, I now pay more :(

TSR
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by TSR » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:19 pm

I had a recent Frontier experience that is worth describing.

The price and route were both ideal, and nonstop. On my departing flight, the plane was delayed several times to the tune of about three hours. This is pretty normal, but the text-message notifications did not really jibe with what they were announcing at the gate. Because it was an evening flight (say, 5:00 pm?), it felt like they were just telling us the flight was delayed when really it was going to be cancelled. It turned out this was not the case, and the flight was fine, albeit late.

The return flight was hilarious. The flight was supposed to be around 1:00, but I got a text notification that it was delayed an hour. Ok, guess we'll have brunch. I got another text saying the flight was delayed until 6:00, which made me look for one of those apps that tells you where the plane is. In the course of doing so, we saw google travel saying that the flight had been cancelled (no text saying that though). I called the airline to verify, and someone in a call center said that the flight was definitely not cancelled. He helpfully informed me that I should wait at the gate for updates. I asked him if he really meant that I should go there now and wait six hours in case the time changed --- answer: yes. Disregarding that advice, we decided to walk around the charming nearby city for a few hours waiting for the flight. Show up at the airport around 5:00 and ask about the flight status. They inform me that they cancelled the flight five hours ago, and that they'd announced it at the gate. They said I would have gotten a text. I informed them that I had not. I then had to drive an hour to the nearest real airport and book a last-minute flight home at about 10:00 pm. Should have done that in the first place.

Bfwolf
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Bfwolf » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:49 pm

GuyInFL wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:25 pm
I like the direct flights of Frontier and Allegiant.
While Spirit and Frontier can provide unpleasant flight experiences, they are both safe. Allegiant's safety is very questionable. Check out the 60 minutes expose on them a year ago.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/allegiant- ... the-radar/

Though it does sound like they've since retired all the MD-80 planes that were the worst offenders.

Trader Joe
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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by Trader Joe » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:00 pm

mw1739 wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:57 am
Looking for recent experiences with either Spirit Airlines or Frontier. It's long been my policy that my income and net worth allow me to book more expensive flights with the larger carriers to preserve my safety and reduce the hassle factor. However, I've run into a situation where both Spirit and Frontier have far better flight times and airfares roughly half the cost of the legacy carriers, even including all the miscellaneous add on fees.

Would I regret selecting either of these carriers for a 4 hour flight across the country? My primary concerns are arriving on-time and avoiding delays etc., which I know tips the scales in favor of the big carriers. The fees don't bother me so much and I would likely upgrade to an exit row or extra leg room seat anyway.
Yes, I believe that you will regret using either Spirit Airlines or Frontier. If you value your time and if you value your commitments you will choose a reputable/reliable airline. Best of luck.

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Re: Frontier or Spirit Airlines

Post by rooms222 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:11 pm

sunny_socal wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:45 am
Neither, unless you're traveling alone without any luggage whatsoever. They nickel dime you if you want anything beyond the bare flight (eg. seat selection and luggage)

Otherwise I recommend Alaska for a low-cost airline. Overall they are still cheaper than Southwest while offering a similar level of baggage/service/comfort.

You are allowed one personal item on Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant. This is the size of a small backpack. Any extra luggage is fairly expensive. If you want any extra luggage, it is cheapest to buy it at the point of original ticket purchase, or the price goes up.

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