A New Frontier? Carrier Scraps Most Change Fees, Introduces Premium and Business Perks 



The A320neo Frontier Airlines

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The changes come as the Department of Transportation released a final rule that will require airlines to disclose all fees associated with add-on perks.

Frontier Airlines is changing the structure of its pricing scheme and getting rid of change fees for most of its fare classes, as part of a wider effort to revitalize its brand, which has been struggling to turn a profit in recent years. 

The changes include simplifying its fare classes to basic, economy, premium and business and offering customers who find a lower airfare elsewhere 2,500 Frontier miles. 

“This is ‘The New Frontier’ and we are committed to offering more than the lowest fares — we deliver the best price for all the options you want and the customer support you need, when you need it,” said CEO Barry Biffle in a statement. “No gimmicks, just really low prices and good customer service.”

Frontier’s new fare structure somewhat mirrors that of a more traditional airline — the basic fare is like basic economy, where travelers would need to pay extra fees if they’d like to check in a bag or choose a seat. The other tiers offer more perks included in the airfare. 

Economy, premium and business will have no change fees, a big change for an ultra-low-cost carrier like Frontier. Travelers who buy a basic fare may still be subject to change fees. One of the airline’s biggest competitors, Spirit, charges change and cancellation fees depending on the number of days before a departure. 

Basic Fare Economy Bundle (New) Premium Bundle (New) Business Bundle (New)
Personal Item Included Included Included Included
Carry-on Bag For purchase Included Included Included
Board First For purchase For purchase Included Included
Choose Your Seat For purchase Included (Standard) Included (Premium) Included (UpFront Plus)
Checked Bags For purchase For purchase For purchase Two bags at 50lb each
No Change/Cancel Fee N/A Included Included Included
Bundle Prices N/A From $30 From $50 From $100
Source: Frontier Airlines

Changes to Customer Service

Frontier is also making some changes to its customer service. The carrier is extending the validity of flight credits issued on or after May 17 from three months to 12 months. 

The carrier is also bringing back 24-hour customer service for flyers with elite status in the Frontier Miles program. Frontier previously axed its phone line in favor of a 24/7 chat tool as part of an attempt to streamline its customer service. 

Frontier’s digital platforms will also see some upgrades. The carrier said it plans to update its app to “simplify travel planning” for customers. 

The ultra-low-cost hasn’t been profitable in recent years, partly due to an oversupply in capacity in popular leisure markets. Frontier executives are in the midst of overhauling its strategy as it tries to boost its bottom line. 

Some of these changes include introducing a fare class for business travelers and shifting capacity away from places like Florida and Las Vegas. 

“What happened is that the low cost beat the low cost, right?” Biffle said at the JPMorgan Industrials conference March 12, referring to carriers like Spirit, JetBlue and Southwest. “We opened Sam’s Club, a Target, a Costco and a Walmart, all on the same block in Florida.”

Junk Fees Take Center Stage

The changes also come as the Department of Transportation released a final rule on junk fees, which would require airlines to disclose all fees related to checked baggage, carry-ons, changing a reservation or canceling one. 

Several major U.S. airlines, along with industry trade group Airlines for America filed a lawsuit against the rule on Monday, arguing that it was a regulatory overreach that could create more confusion for consumers. 

A Frontier spokesperson said the changes were unrelated to the DOT rule.

“We did this because it will now be easier to compare our products with other airlines so customers can quickly and easily see we have the lowest total prices,” the spokesperson said.  

Biffle hinted at improving Frontier’s pricing transparency when asked about the DOT rule during a call with analysts May 2. 

“I think it will really address much of these transparency issues and make it very clean and upfront,” he said during the call. “So, I think we can hit the spirit of what they’re looking for.”

Additional reporting by Gordon Smith

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