Traveling with a family of six can get very expensive very quick, especially when flying. A small savings of $10-20 per person becomes a $60-120 total savings for our family. So when we fly, I am always on the lookout for the cheapest fares.
Last week our family flew Frontier between Cleveland and Orlando. This is our second trip flying Frontier. We flew between Cleveland and Las Vegas (yes, we took the kids to Vegas for a family vacation) in April 2015. Overall, we found both trips to be uneventful and definitely saved us a large amount of money over other airlines.
As you most likely know, you pay for everything à la carte on Frontier. When I say everything, I mean everything. You pay for your seat assignment, drinks, carry on luggage, etc. Although these additional expenses can add up quickly, with a little planning there are simple ways to optimize your savings when flying Frontier.
When you book your flight, you are asked to pick your seats for an additional fee. Traveling with young kids, this additional fee is not an option for us. We need to sit together to keep our kids feeling secure and entertained. Seat fees can be as high as $50 per seat (translation $600 round trip for our family). The $50 seats offer the most leg room and prime seat locations. However, if you scroll to the back of the plane, prices drop dramatically. You can even choose your seat for $0 to $5 in the last few rows. I was able to seat our family of six together for a total of $20 each trip by sitting near the rear of the plane.
You can also save significantly by paying for your baggage before you arrive at the airport. At booking, carry-on baggage was $35 per bag and checked bags were $30 per bag. If you wait and pay for your luggage at the airport, expect to pay $40 to $60 per bag! Yes, it costs you to bring a carry-on, and it costs more than checking a bag. With a large family, we always end up checking bags, so paying $30 to check our luggage was no big deal. In fact, this is just $5 more than we pay to check our luggage on most other airlines. If you choose to carry your luggage onboard, you will get the added perk of group one seating when you pay for the carry-on. Also, like other airlines, Frontier allowed us to check our car seats and boosters for free.
Frontier allows each passenger one free personal item that must fit under the seat in front of you. I use this small bag to pack snacks for our family. I also pick up some beverages for the flight after we pass through security. Non-alcoholic beverages cost $2 and snacks cost $3 in flight. There seems to be some differences between flights as to how you can pay if you wish to purchase items. On our flight to Orlando, it was cash only. However, on the return flight they accepted both cash and credit cards for in-flight purchases.
We found the cleanliness of both of our planes to be similar to that of what we have found on other airlines.
I thought the seats and leg room were equal in comfort to what I have experienced on other airlines. However, my husband found the seats a big rigid. I was happy to find that the seats did not recline as I am always stuck behind someone who reclines his seat into my already limited leg room. However, if you are someone who likes to recline a bit for your flight, you may find this an annoyance.
Also, the tray tables were small half-tables. If you are hoping to do art activities or homework on the plane with your child, this may be a hinderance. However, for the short 2 hour flight to Orlando, no one in my family minded the small trays. I don’t remember having small trays on our longer trip to Las Vegas in 2015, so there may be bigger trays on longer flights.
We had two different experiences with the flight attendants. Heading to Orlando, the flight attendants were not particularly friendly. However, on our return flight to Cleveland they were all very outgoing. One made sure to point out Air Force One to the families on the plane. I felt like overall, they were not unlike other flight attendants crews we have experienced on other airlines. Sometimes you get a great crew and sometimes you don’t.
Our flight to Orlando was on-time. However our return flight was delayed by about an hour due to Air Force One’s departure from Orlando which affected every airline leaving Orlando at that time.
So the bottom line. Would I fly on Frontier with my family again? Absolutely, if the price is right. Yes, there are some minor inconveniences and extra fees associated with Frontier, but for our family we saved almost $1000 by flying Frontier even with all of the extra fees which made it more than worth it. Is Frontier right for you? It just depends on your personal preferences and family’s needs during a flight. However, if you choose to fly Frontier, here are my tips to optimize your savings.
Five Tips for Optimizing your Savings on Frontier
When comparing prices with other airlines, be sure to compare your total costs including seating costs and baggage.
Pay for your luggage when you purchase your tickets (or up to 24 hours before departure) for significant savings.
Check your luggage instead of carrying it onboard to save $5 per bag.
Look for the lowest priced seating at the back of the plane.
Bring snacks from home and purchase drinks for the flight after you get through security.