Frontier Airlines is the Worst

September 13, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, News, Travel by Kristina Horner

There was a time when I hailed Frontier Airlines as an “adorable”, “fun” and “caring” airline. Seriously. That feels like an eternity ago.

Let me preface this post by saying that a few years ago (2009 to be exact), I was delighted by this airline. They used to serve warm cookies to passengers on some flights. They have cute woodland creatures painted on the side of their aircrafts. An all around upstanding airline.

Frontier_Airlines_Fawn_Airbus_A318-111_N808FR But not anymore. The woodland creatures are still there, but now I feel it’s in mockery of the miserable experience you’re about to have — not a friendly, fuzzy welcoming.

I flew Frontier last week to attend a funeral. Life happens sometimes, and you have to buy tickets two days in advance for something completely out of your hands. When you’re a hard working, self employed mid-twenties girl, I don’t think it’s completely out of the question to book your last minute flight on a price comparison website like Kayak or Orbitz. I did it, you’d probably do it, and generally, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Except that Frontier has decided to start penalizing customers for not booking on their personal website. First of all, they have a new bag fee policy. For carry-on bags. You heard me right – Frontier now charges for CARRY ON BAGS, unless you book on their website. This means that if you book on a third party website (like most do), you’re either checking that carryon-bag at the front desk for $25, shelling out $50 at check-in to keep it with you, or being charged A HUNDRED BIG ONES if you don’t quite understand what’s going on and show up at the gate with your bag.

Being that this new policy only went into place on August 6th of 2013, I’m not surprised Frontier passengers are being charged $100 left and right for bags they previously were able to simple walk on a flight with. That they still can walk on a flight with, on any other sensible airline.

Can we stop for a moment and talk about how the CEO of Frontier David Siegel claimed, “we could do a lot of things for free, but we want to stay in business” – and this was his answer? Instead of addressing the overhead bin issues by… I don’t know, enforcing your own bag size regulations, you’re just going to charge all passengers an arm and a leg to bring anything with them on the plane? And then charge for drinks as well, while you’re at it? Oh, excuse me, sorry. A glass of room temperature water is still complimentary. My mistake. How kind of you.

I understand the airline business is hard. Fuel prices are exorbitantly high and companies need to find a way to keep up. But if this is the policy you think is going to keep customers coming back for more, then fine. Have at it. I’m not going to try to tell you how to run your business, I just wont patronize it anymore.

Let me be clear here: after all this, my biggest problem with Frontier (and the reason for this blog post) was their attitude.

First of all, they have a 45 minute cutoff for checking in. If you don’t check in 45 minutes before the plane is set to take off, you don’t get on the plane. Harsh, but I understand. But the employees working at the check-in counter openly and loudly MOCKED those of us in line when the minutes counted down to that time. “Next time you should get here a lot earlier,” they jeered. “We don’t even have to let you on this flight,” they continued, high on the power, until one rather uncomfortable employee leaned over and said “the pilot and crew aren’t even here yet. Keep checking people in, it’s not a big deal.”

Not to mention I had been in line for over 40 minutes and the delay was genuinely in how slowly the employees were checking all of us in. When I finally got to the front, a check-in that should have taken less than five minutes took at least ten because the particular employee used half the time to lecture me on how I should have checked in online, and when I told her that A) I was traveling for a funeral so flight check-ins weren’t really at the front of my mind and B) there were plenty of people behind me waiting to get on the same flight so we should maybe hurry the transaction up a bit – she snapped at me about my attitude problem.

I have never been so completely disappointed with a travel experience. My mom works in the travel industry and has since I was a baby, so I pride myself in not being an overly critical passenger – because I understand how this industry works. But I have never felt so condescended, taken advantage of, and thoroughly unappreciated by a company in my whole life.

Clearly I’m not alone, as I came home to find an entire twitter account dedicated to spreading the word about Frontier’s terrible lack of decency when it comes to customer service. Reading through this feed made me realize that I actually got off pretty easy, which is disheartening.

I know everyone has their travel nightmare stories and that it’s a natural part of flying that every once in awhile you have to deal with a delay or a lost bag or something, but this trend with Frontier is unacceptable. We shouldn’t be punished for flying. We should take our business elsewhere. Let me know your experiences down below – and tell your friends/family not to take this airline if you can avoid it at all.



lizindeed says:

Thanks for posting this! I think some airlines often forget they’re in the service business, not the shipping business. Then again, maybe Frontier would make more money simply delivering parcels- no free sodas and the passengers would actually fit in the overhead bins. Problem solved.

Derek Williamson says:

Hello Kristina,
First I’d like to offer my condolences for your loss, and also offer an apology for you horrible experience. I am fairly new with the airline and am embarrassed to read this. It’s such a shame that there are people working in customer service that shouldn’t even be in the public eye. If I were you, I wouldn’t give them a second chance either.
I’m not trying to excuse the gate agents behavior by any means, but I would like to share with you what I’ve observed since I’ve started. The airline is going through so many changes since bankruptcy in 08, that many of the employees that have been with the company for a long period of time, are jaded and miserable. And it’s unfortunate, that these people are representative the company.
The new charges are a bit strange too, but here is how I think they are thinking… Frontier is an ultra low cost carrier, they are trying to accommodate the travelers who just want to get from point A to point B, the cheapest way possible. Which compared to other airlines, they are significantly cheaper. If you purchase from their websites, you get more choices in you travels, as far as what amenities you’d like during your flight, etc. They are trying to deter people from booking on third party sites, because It does save the company money, but it also allows the passengers more choices.
If you notice, Southwest doesn’t have contracts with those third party companies, so You can only buy through their website, which is saving them tons of money. I believe Frontier is trying to go that route.
I do sincerely apologize for your negative experience, and I wish I could have been on your flight, because I know I could have made it a more pleasant experience.

Take care and happy travels 🙂

Kristina Horner says:

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to respond – I don’t think everyone at the company is evil, so thank you for reaching out.
I totally understand them trying to take the same approach as Southwest, and it makes sense in a lot of ways. What’s not okay is being made to feel like a second class citizen if you DID purchase a ticket on a third party site… especially when I had no idea any of these changes were recently made. I was consistently condescended toward for not having purchased on the website, and I don’t think that’s right.
I feel sorry for those workers who are jaded and miserable in their jobs, and I think it also speaks volumes toward some of the less than great decisions that have been made at the company that they’re expected to enforce.

FlyFrontier says:

Hi Ms. Horner,

We appreciate your honest post on your disappoint with Frontier Airlines. I’d first like to apologize for the service you received, there is never an excuse to provide bad service to anyone, especially during a time when we should have been more compassionate.

To provide a bit more insight for you regarding our changes, we are currently in a period of transition where we are working to differentiate ourselves as a carrier by providing low fares by only charging for services customers use. We also direct customers to as it is where we can provide the best value with our Best Fare Guarantee as well as more perks and savings, all of which is not something we can promise through 3rd party services. And to your point about charging for carry-on bags, this decision was driven by our most loyal customer making it clear that finding overhead bin space was becoming increasingly difficult. So by booking directly on were are able to guarantee a free carry bag with all tickets.

I would like to reiterate that we are sorry for the service you received. We strive to provide warm and welcoming service to our customers, so we are sorry this was not something you were given! If you would like to discuss further about the service you received, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team and we would be happy to talk with you.

Thank you for your feedback and appreciate you taking the time to read our response.


Matthew Morris says:

This type of reply is but one of your major problems. You offer these poor explanations in the form of poorly thought out CANNED responses. So what you’re telling us is that anyone who books on a site other than isn’t a loyal customer? That’s nonsense. It’s amusing that you’re willing to reach out and talk to Kristina, as I’m sure you see she is quite popular and well followed, all the mean while the people expressing their issues and concerns on facebook are typically thrown a canned response which falls just short of directly blaming the air-traveler and told their comments will be passed on to management. “Passed on to management” is nothing more than a veiled attempt at making folks seem like their voice has been heard.

Take a look below at my experience and explain to me why your solution was to offer me a paltry and typical $50 credit towards a future flight. We were shamed and embarrassed by the power tripping gate agents, lied to multiple times, cost us time on our vacation, and then “looked into it” only to have the same gate agents alter the details of how it really played out. I work with a group of over 3000 doctors/nurses/staff and believe me, I have started to spread the word of this incident and the gouging baggage fee policies.

Mark my words, your make it up as you go policies will have you out of business in 2-4 years.

Kristina Horner says:

Wow, I am so, so sorry about what happened to you. I thought my interactions with employees were bad, but yours were just downright despicable. I really hope the Frontier employees coming out of the woodwork to reply to my blog post take a moment to read your story, because it’s UNACCEPTABLE for stuff like this to go on uncorrected. <3

Nica says:

Hi Kristina, I hope everything is ok. I’ve recently gone through a loss and I’m still coping with it. It’ll all be ok in the end. My condolences to you and your family.

Kristina Horner says:

Thanks for the kind message and I want to return the sentiment to you and your family. <3

Matthew Morris says:

Thank you for posting this article, Kristina. Our flight experience on Frontier out of Denver last month was nothing short of an abomination. We boarded our flight in Indianapolis and we were loaded early and actually had an early departure. We generally travel with smallish roller bags, and a small duffel bag each. None of this was sized or questioned on this portion of the flight. It wasn’t until we arrived for our layover in Denver when things deteriorated. They made an announcement, mind you not by using the overhead speaker but by simply yelling it out, that everyone had to get their bags sized and boarding passes marked that such had been done. So we complied. Our bags all fit and our passes marked. They began the boarding process by once again yelling out the boarding zones. It was a complete and utter clusterf*ck. People from all zones began crowding towards the walkway. Our zone was finally called and we made our way to the agent taking the passes. My wife had her roller bag, duffel bag, and a very small coach crossbody purse against her body. The agent, Hal, told her she had 3 items and had to put the purse in the duffel. She complied, kneeling down to quickly place it on top of the already open duffel. He immediately yelled at her, “NO! GET OUT OF LINE AND DO IT!” By the time he’d done this, she was finished and walking down the walkway. He stopped taking passes in order to step to the walkway entrance and yell at her “YOU BETTER NOT TAKE THAT BACK OUT!” She was 1/2 way down the walkway and replied “It’s still in the duffel.” Suddenly, Hal screams at her “YOU’RE OFF THE FLIGHT! YOU YELLED AT ME!” She came back up the walkway to where I was standing and we were told “She yelled at Hal, we have to call a supervisor to see if you can get on-board.” This we later found out, was one of many lies. Passengers in the gate are said, “He was the one doing the yelling, not her!” We were made to stand by the agent desk as every other passenger was boarded. During that time, they grabbed my wife’s bags away and stuffed them back into the sizing box. We showed our boarding passes had been marked and they’d offer no explanation other than to say “That was just an initial check.” No supervisor ever arrived and we were allowed to board the plane. By that time though all the overhead space was taken and we were forced to check our bags. This cost us an additional hour in Las Vegas, as we had to wait to retrieve our bags. As I was boarding I asked the agents name who was the cause of all this and I was told “If you say one word about this on the plane to ANYONE, you’ll be removed.” During the flight, the flight attendants told us they weren’t really calling a supervisor. Rather they’d called down to “warn them about a couple of unruly passengers”. They acknowledged that we weren’t a problem and expressed their sympathies for what had occurred. When I reported all of this, we were offered a paltry $50 credit towards a future flight. We declined, as we will not be giving another cent to this once great airline now in decline. I suspect their current business model drive them into the tarmac in a span of 2-4 years, if not sooner.

Kelly says:

Sorry for your loss. Thank you for your post. I’m experiencing Frontier hell as well. I am building a site called, which will be up and running by tonight. May I include a link to this post?

Kristina Horner says:

Of course! I would love to check out the site as well!

Anonymous says:

I am a former Frontier Airlines employee, I have worked for a few different airlines and I just left Frontier last month. Rather I was forced to leave because they contracted all out stations customer service to other companies. But that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as a got a job with a much better airline. I am a very customer service focused person.. I am very empathetic and I like to be on the side of the customer. Working for Frontier near the last couple of weeks I was there was soo embarrassing for me.. I did everything I could to get around the new rules and let the customers off the hook of carry on fees and the stupid 45 minute cut off rule. I was so embarrassed for my airline and to be a representative of it.. If they hadn’t forced us to leave I would have for certain left on my own. When I first got hired there they were so customer service focused and it was great.. It’s not that airline anymore. I feel like I went from working at a best western to a Hilton 🙂 I work for delta now and I’m so happy I don’t have to charge customers for their carry ons and I can do everything possible to help late customers to get to the gate in time,

I am so happy to hear you’ve moved on to a better airline! 🙂
Congrats and thanks for chiming in on this post.

Kari Kristine says:

That reply from an “official” really made me cringe. Thank you for letting me know about this airline, Kristina! I’m from Europe, so I’ve never heard of Frontier before. I’ll make sure never to book a ticket with them when I travel to the U.S.!

Annie says:

I flew to Hawaii recently (early September) and booked my trip through Travelocity. I had a ridiculous itinerary with 4 different flights, the first two being on Frontier. When I got my boarding pass, it already said that I was allowed a carryon. I didn’t get charged any extra for having two. I’m not sure if that was a fluke, or if booking through Travelocity gets you the same perks as booking through FlyFrontier. I didn’t have a terrible experience with them, but I wasn’t impressed, either. I hope your trip went well and that you and your family are doing ok <3

Kurt Montgomery says:

I understand that almost every company in our current world economy is required to take short cuts to save a buck and perhaps offer the bonus to the “elite” few. Is this okay, sure it is. Do you have to support and fly with Frontier, no you don’t. I have never had a poor experience with Frontier. I will however; avoid using them as almost everyone I know has a story to tell similar to all that I have just read. Basically, I don’t want to take a chance to have to live a similar nightmare and further more, the only other option left for Frontier to save a buck, is to hire less qualified pilots, really whats left to save that buck. Now thats a fearful thought. It was nice to know you Frontier, You’re like a good friend thats gone bad. Change your attitude and I’ll reconsider and possibly forgive. You know that word of mouth is the best advertisement, something money can’t buy and word of mouth can kill a company, something money can’t fix. It’s all about attitude and the attitude and culture is sick at Frontier. Please get well as I can’t be part of it until you do. Also, remember that attitude starts at the top of the chain Mr. CEO and trickles on down.

Ed says:

I have worked at Frontier for a long time. I have freely given my time in many ways helping the company.

I was so proud to work for Frontier and helping any customer I could, I spent two hours with a non-English speaking customer after my work day was over (and I was not being paid) helping her find her bag, called the party that was supposed to meet her (she came from South America and arrived a day early), then waited with her until her ride arrived.

I know many employees that have done as much or more. We don’t do any of that anymore. Management treats their employees as poorly as our customers, of course we get paid to be abused as opposed to being a customer who is paying to be abused.

I can fly Frontier for free and I buy tickets on Southwest. I’m embarrassed to work here now. We no longer have “customers” – we have “passengers.” I am very sorry for the poor treatment you received and, sadly, I believe it will only get worse.

Siegel and Franke just don’t care about ANYTHING but money. They will spin us off in an IPO, take their millions and leave Frontier, their employees and passengers holding an empty shell of what was once a wonderful company. It’s very sad.

I am so sorry to hear about your story and I’m so sorry to hear employees are being treated poorly. I feel for you.

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