UPDATE – May 1, 7:30 p.m. EDT: Frontier has now provided additional clarification. The carry-on bag fee will apply only to those passenger who book anywhere but on the airline’s website, FlyFrontier. Those who purchase elsewhere will be charged $25 per carry-on if they pay during the online check-in process (on Frontier’s site), or, they’ll be charged $100 if they delay payment until they reach the airport. Note: There is one way offsite bookers can avoid the carry-on fee, but that means purchasing the more expensive Classic or Classic Plus seats.
Frontier’s strategy – to get travelers to purchase tickets on the Frontier website and only on the Frontier website – is reminiscent of the airline’s decision last fall to penalize those who book offsite by giving them only half the miles those who book on Frontier get. Another penalty: no advance seat selection.
FareCompare has confirmed that Denver-based discount carrier Frontier Airlines plans to institute a carry-on baggage fee beginning at some yet-to-be-specified date this summer. It’s not the first airline to do this, and may not be the last.
Fee Ranges from $25 to $100
The new carry-on baggage fee will range from $25 if the fee is paid in advance and will cost $100 for passengers who wait until the very last minute to pay – at the airport gate.
Florida-based Spirit Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to institute a carry-on fee which involves a complicated tiered pricing system but it too ranges from $25 to $100. Spirit’s move was then quickly copied by discounter Allegiant.
$2 for Soft Drinks
According to the Associated Press, Frontier will also follow Spirit’s lead in charging for soft drinks including soda and coffee which will be sold for $2 each. This fee is said to take effect July 1, just in time for the busy summer season.
FareCompare contacted Frontier, and a spokesperson gave this explanation for the new fees: “Frontier is working to differentiate travel and lower fares by charging customers only for the services they use. This is also in response to comments received from our most loyal customers, who have made it very clear that finding overhead bin space for carry-on bags has become increasingly difficult.”
Bad Week for Airline Fees
This latest fee news comes the same day FareCompare reported all U.S. legacy carriers have raised change fees on domestic tickets, from $150 to $200. It must be noted that airlines collectively reap billions of dollars from change and baggage fees in the course of a year and unless there is strong passenger resistance (which has happened, though rarely) it is likely the new fees are here to stay.