Frontier Airlines did me dirty. I left my flight from SFO to DEN (and return) vowing never to fly Frontier Airlines again. But, in hindsight, there were some aspects of the trip I was just underprepared for that could have eased my journey.
So, I wanted to share with you tons of tips for flying Frontier Airlines along with my honest Frontier Airlines review so you can decide if that $40 flight is really worth it or not (spoiler alert: it’s probably not).
My friend Justina and I both live in San Francisco and we’re obsessed with exploring the United States together but not obsessed with paying an arm and a leg (both) for said travel.
So when we decided to book a last minute autumn trip to Denver, Colorado to hopefully catch some fall foliage, the only affordable flights left were on Frontier. They were $95 round trip!!!
Well, in the end they were much much more expensive, I’ll get into the why in the post. A few days before our flight I did start too watch a bunch of TikTok videos explaining what it’s like on Frontier flights but nothing could have prepared me for the actual trip.
So, I hope this post can prepare YOU.
Things You MUST Know Before Your Frontier Flight
1. The Seats Are Extremely Uncomfortable
I was prepared for uncomfortable seats since it’s a budget airline but I’ve never seen plane seats so barebones. The seats themselves have absolutely zero padding, it’s like sitting on a rigid classroom plastic chair.
The armrests are just a few inches long, so one person can barely put their arm on them, and the arm rests don’t move at all. The tray table are the tiniest I’ve ever seen and the back seat pockets aren’t big enough to put a waterbottle in.
Of course, there isn’t any padding on the headrest and if you’re thinking: I’ll just recline, it’s ok! NOPE – the chairs don’t recline, not even an inch.
If I were younger this wouldn’t have bothered me but I’m in my 30’s now, and sitting in those rigid chairs at an awkward angel for 2 hours left my back hurting all the next day. I felt very bad for the man in the middle seat of my aisle who was about 6’5″, who was all crunch up into a little ball.
@whimsysoul I flew Frontier Airlines and aged 5 years 💀 Never again #frontierairlines #frontierairlinessucks #cheapflights #cheaptravel #budgettravel #budgetairlines #colorado #sfo #traveltips #travelfail #denver #denverairport ♬ Cruel Summer – Live from TS | The Eras Tour – Taylor Swift
2. The Plane Interior Is Dirty
I’m not convinced this plane gets cleaned very often. The first flight out, there was gum stuck to the bottom of my tray table. The second flight had literal trash inside my back seat pocket. *eye twitch*.
I wasn’t expecting my seat to be as clean and welcoming as when flying business class, but dang. They can’t even do a visual sweep on here for trash and gum?
3. You Have To Buy Your Carry-On Bag
In case you missed this fact, Frontier Airlines nickles and dimes you for EVERYTHING. (I’m actually surprised they haven’t figured out how to make us pay for someone to actually clean our seats before sitting in them.)
Everyone gets 1 personal item for free, but it’s small. All other bags have a hefty price tag to carry-on or check.
This is why the price of flights can add up very quickly – unless you are someone who can travel literally with like one pair of clothes and a single phone charger, you will probably need a bigger bag than the personal item allows for.
18x14x8 Foldable Travel Duffel Bag sizied specifically to fit the Frontier Airlines personal item size!
Invest in a quality weekender bag that's just 14.2″ H x 7.3″ W x 19.5″ L so it can fit the Frontier carry-on size!
4. Personal Item Rules Are STRICT
So strict, that both our flights were delayed over an hour since the gate agents had to spend all that time arguing with people who brought bags that were too big. On the return flight, a couple was kicked off since they were too aggressive over this bag policy.
If you bring a personal item that is too big for their 4” tall, 18” wide, and 8” long measurements, you have to pay around $100 at the gate to carry it on or check it. When that price is more than most people’s flights, I understand why so much emotions are happening.
5. Employees Earn Money For Gate Checked Bags
Personally, for me, I spent the entire time waiting at the gate sweating and worrying that my bag would be flagged even though it fit into the bin. I’ve seen countless videos online about gate agents ignoring the clear fact that a bag is the right size and forcing people to pay $100 to check it.
I went down a rabbit hole and turns out, that some Frontier Airlines employees get a $10 referral bonus for every single bag they force to be upgraded.
This is why some gate agents are so ruthless about making passengers check bags (even if the bag does fit)- they’re literally making their rent in a day of flights by scamming all of us.
So, if your bag is kinda pushing the limit on sizing, be prepared to have to pay $100 at the gate. There’s no sneaking around it.
5. Buying A Carry-On Bag Gives You An Advantage
This was my first time flying Frontier, we were heading to a cold destination and both had large camera gear so I wasn’t able to fit everything I needed in my trusty travel backpack. So I bought a carry-on bag online prior to my flight.
Technically, the bag I bought was too big for their carry-on size of 24x16x10 inches. I used my Lo and Sons weekender bag, but I made sure not to over-stuff it so it could still be squished down. But, since we already paid for our bags, nobody double-checked the size and I realized I could have gotten away with packing a few more items.
We also got to board earlier with our boarding passes, which means we didn’t have to fight for overhead bin space. And, both of us were automatically assigned aisle seats, even though we didn’t pay for seat selection. I have a theory Frontier likes to award the people who pay them more. The middle goes to the personal item folks.
6. Upgrades Are Cheapest At Check Out
Need checked bags or bring a carry-on? Make sure to do that at the time of booking your flight. I had to pay for my bag after booking flights and ended up paying literally double the cost of a bag upgrade than was offered at the time of booking.
You need to come into booking a Frontier flight with a gameplan, and now exactly what upgrades you are looking for and book them at the time of your flight, otherwise you’ll end up paying a LOT more later.
7. Seat Selection Isn’t Worth It
Seat assignments are paid for, like most airlines these days. But this is a budget airline, do you really need to pay another $30 round trip to just sit next to your friend? You’ll see them in a couple of hours when you land. Save that cash.
8. Bring Earplugs & An Eye Mask
The planes are basically a floating daycare / mosh pit. I swear half the people on my flights were children, and the other half were people whom I’m positive have never flown before. Or have zero plane etiquette.
Everyone was talking with outside voices. Everyone was walking around and standing in aisles and constantly grabbing things from the overhead. Many people brought along takeout so the plane quickly filled with ripe aromas.
It was… a lot of stimulation to deal with, and I’m very happy I brought ear plugs and an eye mask to block the noise and visual stimuli out for a bit.
A good eye mask is a MUST have on flights!
Frontier flights are so dang LOUD. These help with preventing headaches.
9. Your Carry-On Bag Can Be Moved At Any Time
Because Fronter charges for carry-on bags and even more for a checked bag, that means almost nobody actually checks their bags. This results in the planes being top-heavy on almost every single flight.
On both of our flights, we lost about 20 minutes since the flight attendant had to pull carry-on bags that were already loaded into the overhead bin and put them under the plane. It’s random and passengers have zero chance to grab anything from their bags before they are moved.
And guess what? On our return flight, both our bags – that we paid $100 for to have near us in overhead bins – were pulled to put under the plane. I had a book in that bag I was going to grab after takeoff to read but never got a chance to do so.
Unlike other airlines, who will ask passengers to gate check prior to boarding, Frontier just yanks it from you and delays the entire flight. And when they pull your bag, you’ll find yourself deep in the airport’s baggage claim waiting for that bag.
10. Pack Your Own Snacks
Because you have to pay for snacks onboard. No free peanuts here! No sodas or coffee, either, unless you want to pay. Water is supposed to be free onboard, but I swear I saw flight attendants charge for it so also bring a water bottle.
Just, please, don’t bring a full takeout box meal. My favorite travel snacks are Clif Bars since they’re tasty, easy to pack and fill me right up!
11. There’s No Interenet, So Download TV Series Before Hand
Did you really expect WiFi at this point? Just, I had to point out that there’s no WiFi available to purchase and not even free inflight streaming (airlines like Southwest provide this and it’s amazing!)
So, make sure you have plenty of tv shows downloaded and ready to stream offline prior to boarding. And don’t plan on getting any work done.
Oh, and there’s not outlets on board so make sure your devices are charged prior to your flight!
12. Know That Customer Service Will NOT Have Your Back
Remember that bag that they yanked from me and checked? It came out super dirty and stained. With other airlines I’ve flown, when they messed up my checked bags, I was able to get assistance from customer support to make it right.
In this case, I just asked for a refund from paying for my carry-on bag fee (since it wasn’t available to me as a carry-on and they messed up my bag) but when I reached out to Customer Support I got crickets. I never got a reply from them.
So, know, that if something goes wrong, they will NOT have your back.
13. Flight Attendants Are Very Nice, Gate Agents Are Rude AF
It could just be the two airports I was at, but the gate agents at Frontier Airlines were pretty rude to passengers, but the flight attendants themselves on the plane were very nice. They had a hard job and every single one of them was professional, chipper and polite.
During our long delay on the way back, one lady started feeling sick and they made sure she had water and the air was blowing on her to cool her off.
14. Book On A Good Travel Credit Card
If you still choose to fly with them, make sure you book your flights and upgrades on a really solid travel credit card, since Frontier will NOT help you out.
If they lose your bag or your flight is majorly delayed, they will not help you. But your travel card probably has support in place for issues like this. Don’t leave yourself hanging!
Alternatively, you could book with a solid travel insurance policy to help if things go down. I love World Nomads!
I adore World Nomads for travel insurance, especially when I know I'll be doing something outdoorsy like snowshoeing or sea kayaking. They cover those activities and not all travel insurances do! They're affordable, fair and easy to use.
- Easy to buy before a trip
- Plans are tailored to your needs
- Covers adventure activities
15. Buy A Wild Pass If You Want To Fly A lot
If you’re on the hunt for truly low-cost flights and read all of this and still don’t care – then get the WildPass. This enables you to the lowest-cost flights with an annual all-you-can-fly-pass. It’s about $600, but if you need to fly a lot for work or pleasure, it could save you a lot of money.
The GoWild! Pass includes:
- An unlimited number of flights
- Access to Frontier’s domestic and international destinations
- Get confirmed bookings the day before flight departure for domestic travel and starting 10 days before flight departure for international travel
- Plan ahead & book select flights early, simply search & choose GoWild! when available.
- Travel that will keep your miles from expiring; plus, use your Elite Status for FREE bags and seats.
So, Is Frontier Airlines Worth It? Honest Frontier Airlines Review
For me, a 32 year old woman who needs more than a single pair of clothes while on trips, no this was not worth it. I don’t care what everyone says, this journey took a few years off my life. It’s the worst airline I’ve ever flown on. And I’ve flown on janky jungle planes before.
But listen, if I was 20 again, this would have totally been my jam. I was one of those people who always looked for the cheapest tickets to places and budgeted the heck out of trips. I spent 2 weeks in Ireland once while 18 and only spent $1400 (airfare included!)
But Now? Nope. No way. And especially not for peak travel times like December when you’re trying to visit home for the holidays.
If you are thinking of flying Frontier, I hope you are young and can bounce back from a rough travel day. You also should plan on packing light and the most important tip: make sure it’s a short flight. Don’t be trekking across the country on this airline. Or, use it just for one-way travel.
Is Frontier Airlines Really That Bad?
Frontier reviews aren’t lying – it’s rough. I came prepared and I was still shocked about how bad it was.
What Is Frontier Airlines Personal Bag Size?
The maximum size for a personal item is 8 x 18 x 14 inches, including handles, straps, and wheels. They are STRICT about this!
What Is Frontier Airlines Carry-On Bag Size?
24 x 10 x 16 inches. It also can’t be heavier than 35 pounds.
What Are The Pros And Cons of Frontier Airlines
- Cheap base flights
- Newer planes (no doors flying off here!)
- Good West Coast coverage
- Hidden fees everywhere
- No free drinks or food onboard
- Extremely uncomfy seats
- Notoriously bad for on-time flights
- Many routes only happen once a day (aka canceled or missed flights means there’s not another one in an hour to catch)
Got your own Frontier Airlines reviews to add or more travel tips? Drop a comment below!