Pack small or pay up: Frontier is cracking down on carry-on baggage

Extremely-low-cost airways, together with Frontier Airways and Spirit Airways, usually are not solely identified for having low fares which are usually lower than the price of a dinner out. They’re equally identified for providing “optionally available” ancillary charges which are usually something however low-cost.

Denver-based Frontier providers 50-plus markets in North America and the Caribbean. For its routes, the airline generally presents fares as little as $19, however out-of-pocket prices for patrons shortly go up when every little thing from bringing a full-size carry-on bag for $50 to $89 to touring with a checked bag for $55 to $96 is factored in. Seat assignments, choose in-airport agent assist and onboard meals and beverage providers additionally price further.

Nearly the one factor that’s free on a Frontier flight — apart from utilizing the bathroom — is the one private merchandise, comparable to a handbag or different equally sized merchandise, you are permitted to deliver on board. On-line, Frontier specifies that this merchandise should be no bigger than 14 inches by 18 inches by 8 inches, and it should match beneath the seat in entrance of you.

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To place that into context, these dimensions are barely bigger than the dimensions of the ever present Herschel Basic Backpack within the Mini measurement, which measures 11 inches by 8 inches by 4 1/4 inches. Know, although, that the full-size model (the Herschel Basic Backpack) is just too massive. The identical can be true of the traditional JanSport backpack.

In case you are unable to suit all of the stuff you want to your journey in that small of an merchandise, then you may pay for a carry-on bag that is appropriate for the overhead bin. Nevertheless, it can not exceed 10 inches by 16 inches by 24 inches — together with handles, wheels and straps — and should weigh lower than 35 kilos.

However, in fact, these are the printed guidelines.

Those that’ve flown Frontier within the final couple of years know that there are sometimes occasions when passengers can get away with carrying on a bigger bag like a standard-size backpack or perhaps a full-size duffel bag as their private merchandise. In our expertise, passengers hardly ever pressed their luck with wheeled carry-on baggage, however just about something that might be worn in your shoulder has had a shot of getting on board in recent times.

All good issues come to an finish, although, as Frontier is clearly making a larger effort to implement its present baggage coverage by tacking on charges for individuals who try and deliver on bigger gadgets.

A Frontier spokesperson declined to specify any current adjustments to their carry-on baggage coverage, however did verify they had been implementing their guidelines.

That will help you plan accordingly so you aren’t hit with any shock charges, this is all it’s good to know primarily based on my current expertise flying with the service.

Take into account all choices earlier than paying for carry-on baggage

Once you buy a Frontier flight, you’ve gotten the choice so as to add baggage on the time of buy. Doing so is the most affordable choice should you’ll must deliver greater than a private merchandise, in accordance with Frontier’s web site.

How a lot will that bag price you? Sadly, there is not any simple reply because the carry-on charge relies on a wide range of elements, together with whether or not you select to buy a bundle package deal, what your flight route is, if in case you have Frontier elite standing and once you pay to your carry-on.

Primarily based on a sequence of take a look at flights researched for this story, we discovered which you could at present anticipate to shell out anyplace from $55 for a full-size carry-on you pay for when making your on-line reservation to $100 for a equally sized bag you pay for on the gate proper earlier than boarding.

Within the case of my flight, a round-trip itinerary from Chicago’s Halfway Worldwide Airport (MDW) to Philadelphia Worldwide Airport (PHL), it price $60 every strategy to deliver a full-size carry-on. That was nearly the identical worth as my ticket.

By the point I added a carry-on and chosen my seats, my complete price for the ticket was almost $300, a far cry from the initially marketed fare of $125.

All through the reserving course of, you might be consistently inspired so as to add baggage providers or perhaps a bundle of “extras.”

The charge for the most affordable bundle on my ticket was $120 every manner (or $240 complete). This would come with a checked bag, a carry-on bag and seat choice. Nevertheless, it was inexpensive for me to solely pay for what I wanted, so I ended up spending $120 for bags and $47 for seat choice.


Associated: This is what to pack in a carry-on bag each time you journey

Put together to your baggage to be measured

Once you arrive on the airport, you will see baggage measurement bins for Frontier passengers each on the check-in counter and on the gate.


As a result of I had paid for my carry-on merchandise forward of time, I verified with the check-in agent whether or not I wanted to position my bag within the measurer. She informed me no and stated I may head straight to the safety space since I already had my boarding go.


After I arrived at my gate, there have been two sizers for baggage: one to your free private merchandise, and one for paid carry-on baggage.

About 20 minutes earlier than boarding, a flight attendant supervisor gave a reminder concerning the airline’s carry-on baggage coverage to these of us ready within the gate space. Throughout this announcement, he “extremely, extremely advisable” vacationers “step as much as the counter” to measure their massive backpacks, curler baggage and duffle baggage. He additionally reiterated that the bag should be capable to slide seamlessly out and in of the measurer.


“You’ll be charged the next worth should you try and board with an unpaid carry-on,” the Frontier supervisor stated. “We don’t want to go away anybody behind, so please measure.”

This was not a one-off expertise I had. Primarily based on discussions with different Frontier vacationers, it is not uncommon to listen to frequent bulletins about measuring your private merchandise earlier than boarding.

Ought to anybody’s private merchandise have been too huge, passengers may’ve added the choice for a carry-on by way of the app. The gate brokers advisable this selection because it was cheaper than paying on the gate counter — although it was nonetheless pricier than paying throughout the reserving course of, which is what I did.

“If you happen to want any help utilizing our web site or app, we’re greater than prepared to help you,” the supervisor continued.

A couple of minutes later, a gate agent made a second announcement concerning the carry-on reminder, at which level a number of vacationers went to the sizers to measure their backpacks and bigger curler baggage.

After I requested for directions concerning this course of, a gate agent stated “simply see if it suits within the prime bin, and if it does, you’re all good.”

For good measure (actually), I inserted each my paid carry-on bag, which was a big tote, and my Caraa Stratus backpack. Each match with out situation.

Different backpacks you may deliver on board embody Lululemon’s Pack it Up Backpack (which measures 12.2 inches by 17.3 inches by 5.9 inches) and the All over the place Zip Backpack from Away (which is 12 inches by 17.7 inches by 5.9 inches).


On my flight again from Philidelphia to Chicago, the departure gate brokers made comparable bulletins as these made earlier than my outgoing flight to Philidelphia, particularly to remind vacationers to measure their duffle baggage, backpacks and curler baggage. There was additionally signage all through the gate space reminding vacationers of the coverage.

On board, I largely observed backpacks and smaller duffle baggage saved within the overhead bin compartments, however some bigger curler baggage had been positioned within the bins as properly.

Moreover, each passenger that paid for a carry-on bag was upgraded to Zone 1 boarding, the precedence boarding group. This helps the gate agent maintain observe of who has (and hasn’t) paid for a full-size carry-on bag. If you happen to do not pay to your carry-on bag throughout the reserving course of, it is protected to imagine that you will be positioned in a later boarding group.


Associated: 3 methods to keep away from checking your bag on the gate

Backside line

When the price of bringing a full-size carry-on bag on ultra-low-cost carriers comparable to Frontier is about the identical — or generally extra — than the price of the flight itself, it might probably definitely be tempting to attempt to stuff every little thing you want into your free private merchandise. In any case, you are presumably flying on an ultra-low-cost service to reduce journey bills as a lot as doable.


When you can nonetheless deliver a small backpack or laptop computer bag on board without cost, the times of bringing a barely bigger backpack or duffle bag with out incurring a charge could also be over … at the very least, for now. Due to this, your finest wager will probably be to pay to your bag throughout the reserving course of, because it prices extra so as to add baggage on the gate.

For extra details about flying with Frontier, learn:

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