In yet another step toward Frontier's self-proclaimed reinvention as an ultra-low-cost carrier (think Spirit and Ryanair), the airline unveiled a new two-tiered pricing scheme that allows travelers to purchase either Classic Plus fares which include the ability carry on a bag, make itinerary changes, receive an advance seat assignment, and so on; or, for a lower price, purchase Economy fares which do not include such "extras." Of course, those extras are sold separately, for additional fees.
Among the additional fees that Economy customers must factor into their purchase decisions: up to $50 for carry-on bags, up to $25 for the first checked bag, up to $75 for an itinerary change, and $5 for an advance seat assignment.
Although Frontier is unquestionably following in Spirit's footsteps—the company is owned by Indigo, which was until recently a major stockholder in Spirit, and Frontier's new president is a former Spirit executive—Frontier is taking pains not to be too closely associated with Spirit, which is widely reviled for its consumer-unfriendly policies and lackluster service.
Indeed, Frontier's new pricing structure, which offers flyers a clear choice between a traditional inclusive fare and a cheaper stripped-down fare, is notably more accommodating than Spirit's one-price-fits-all pricing.
Another key differentiator: Frontier's EarlyReturns may not be as robust or generous as the programs of the major airlines, but it's head and shoulders above Spirit's program.
Frontier won't be the first ultra-low-cost carrier. But it might be the first ultra-low-cost carrier that manages to deliver on the promise of low fares and still provide acceptable levels of customer service.
Reader Reality Check
Is there a place for Frontier in your travel plans?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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