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Frontier Lays Out Ultra Low Fare Strategy (Hint: Lower Fares and Higher Fees)

Frontier Airlines announced (to no one’s surprise) its policy changes to further shift to a Spirit-like Ultra Low Fare model. Frontier has no other choice than to go this route, and I applaud them for making the difficult decisions necessary to survive in today’s market. I think they have a long future ahead…

Frontier will now have just two fare classes, Economy and Classic Plus. Economy will be an unbundled product, where you pay for your bags and seat assignment. Carry-on bags are $25 in advance ($20 if you’re a member of their “Discount Den” club), $35 at the check-in kiosk, and $50 at the gate. They really don’t want you to check your bag at the gate. Unlike Spirit, 1 carry-on is free. (Oops, my bad)

Early Returns members will have “Discount Den” membership until June 30, 2015.

Seat assignments are $3 for regular seats, $5 for SELECT seats, and $15 & up for STRETCH seats when you buy those in advance; add another $5 if you book a regular seat at check-in, and another $10 if you book SELECT or STRETCH at that point.

Classic Plus fares include a fully refundable ticket, no change fees, extra leg room with STRETCH seating, one free-checked bag, and one free carry-on bag.

Frontier also said that with this move they have lowered their fares in Denver by an average of 12%.

Frontier basically had no other options than to go the low fare route, since they were squeezed by both United and Southwest at their Denver hub. They began transitioning to a new strategy last year, introducing new point-to-point service away from Denver, including a small but so-far-successful beachhead in Trenton, NJ (what Trenton makes, the world takes…)

As long as they can keep their customer service at a moderately acceptable level, they should be able to compete with Southwest while enjoying Spirit-like financials. As Spirit is showing with their continued expansion in Kansas City this week, there are plenty of cities where the 1-2/day service can work, even in markets that have traditionally been viewed as “business” markets rather than “leisure” markets. Frontier has lots of opportunity ahead of them…(I’m a fan…)

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  1. I think this is a bad move for Frontier to make. They should distinguish themselves from miserable Spirit. Any airline that charges for a carry-on is miserable. They should be trying to emulate easyJet, which is a European low cost carrier that isn’t miserable. That’s a niche that America needs.

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