I’ll be the first to admit that my airline reviews are about as far they could possibly be from being classified as “educational”, and I don’t think I’ve ever written an article here on sanspotter.com which would make someone instinctively reach for a notepad to scribble down valuable pieces of information as they read.
It isn’t like I don’t have any desire to teach and inform or anything, but my writing style always gravitates towards making silly jokes about things like red shoes and Healthwhiches (leaving little mental energy left over to be serious and adult-like). I just can’t help it.
But today is your lucky day my friends! Grab your notebook and something to write with, because this Frontier Airlines A320 Stretch seat review contains a valuable life lesson which can potentially save you heaps of embarrassment and frustration as you arrive at the airport to check in for your flight.
Austin, TX (AUS) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Monday, June 25, 2018
Duration: 2 hours 28 minutes
Seat: 3F (premium economy)
My full review of the Frontier Airlines A320 Stretch seat from Austin to San Diego
This trip report begins on a dark and rainy Monday morning on a second-floor room at the Hilton adjacent to the Austin Bergstrom Airport. It’s 5:30 AM, and your hero (that’s me BTW) is shuffling out of bed with arms pointing straight out in front of him like a zombie trying to find the source of the piercing alarm which has woken him so violently from his zombie-like slumber. There’s a shuttle bus leaving for the airport at 6 AM, and his goal is to be on it. Let’s get going!
Arriving at the airport (sort of)
This is the point where the valuable life lesson comes into play, so I’m just going to spill it and not drag it out any further:
Never (and I do mean never) trust your hotel shuttle bus driver!
Hmm. Perhaps you were expecting something a bit more meaty than that? It does seem a bit anti-climatic, I know, but trust me on this. These people are not your friends, even if they look like happy / seasoned pros who have been on the job for 30+ years. Are you writing this down?
He seemed like a nice enough guy, greeting me with a smile as I stepped onboard, and asking me which airline I was flying this morning. “Frontier please”, I replied, not expecting anything else than being dropped off in front of the Frontier Airlines baggage drop sometime within the next 10 minutes. That seemed like a fair enough assumption, right? And right up to the point where we pulled up to the airport, things seemed to be going just as planned.
“Frontier departs from the South terminal” he said as I was stepping off the bus, followed with instructions on how to get there. “You see that bus stop 200 feet ahead? Just wait there and there will be another shuttle bus that will take you over to the South terminal in just a few minutes”. I thanked him for his help and walked down to said bus stop to wait for my ride.
25 minutes later, I was still waiting. I was seriously considering grabbing a taxi at that point, never even considering for a moment that I was actually in the right place and that the Frontier Airlines baggage drop was just 50 feet behind me.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen – I had been given bogus information and I was about to be sent on a wild ride over to the South terminal (a place which just so happens to be nowhere near the North terminal – or even the airport for that matter). Heck, it might as well have been located across the state line in Louisiana, because once the shuttle bus did arrive to scoop me up, it was another long 25 minute ride over there.
Once we pulled up to what looked like a series of temporary buildings clustered together out in the middle of nowhere, it dawned on me that I had been led astray and that Frontier Airlines did indeed depart from the North terminal (where I had been dropped off originally). Dang it.
Thankfully I have a habit of arriving at the airport stupidly early every time I fly, because I wasted an entire hour unnecessarily shuffling between terminals this morning. Even though I was in no danger of missing my flight, it was still rather embarrassing and not the best way to start a day of travel.
Arrival at the airport (again)
Once through security, I was thankful that I still had about an hour and a half to go before boarding was scheduled to begin. That gave me ample time to grab a bite to eat, and to berate myself a little for not paying attention and knowing ahead of time which terminal that I needed to be at this morning. I had definitely learned a lesson, and felt a little excited that I actually had something educational to share on the blog for once.
The boarding process for flight number 1701 to San Diego
I found it interesting that our gate for this flight to San Diego was the exact same one (with the comically long jet bridge) that we arrived at just two days prior. The only difference between this flight and that one was that this was looking to be a little bit of a lighter load, and I was feeling pretty good about the possibility of having an open seat next to me this morning.
My first impressions of the Frontier A320 Stretch seats
As you would probably expect, the Stretch seats on the Frontier A320 are identical to the Stretch seats on the A320ne0. They are extremely thin and firm, but I appreciate the gobs of space between the seats. Make no mistake about it. This sort of consistency is one of the things that makes Frontier Airlines so good.
The departure out of Austin
Once onboard with the boarding door closed, the possibility of having an open seat had been confirmed and I was enjoying sitting there with a little bit of extra room to spread out. Unfortunately, there was a small child sitting directly behind me, and you know how small kids are with their natural tendency to kick seats.
I really thought that I was going to be in for a completely miserable flight, but thankfully the kicking stopped as we pushed off the gate and headed out towards the runway for departure. Disaster averted.
Nothing is free on Frontier Airlines except for water in a plastic cup, so I took full advantage of that and sipped slowly on that chilly H2O all the way to San Diego. Hey – I’m an expert in milking free things for as long as possible, and I did a number on that cup of water this morning. It was an enjoyable refreshment lasting the entire 2 1/2 hours.
A few thoughts about the Stretch seat experience
Helping to pass the time on this flight was a bit of trip report writing and podcast listening (as usual). I didn’t even get up to use the lavatory once, and between all the writing, listening, and sipping, the flight went by in a flash.
The arrival into San Diego
And there you have it. IMHO, the only real downside to flying Frontier instead of a large airline such as Delta (for example) is the fact that they are a smaller operation with a comparatively limited network. That’s perfectly ok if things are running as smooth as butter melting on a stack of hot pancakes, but throw in a thunderstorm or a naked guy running around on an active runway somewhere, and I can imagine things getting messy really fast.
Larger airlines such as Delta and American can absorb these problems a lot easier thanks to having more aircraft and a larger network, but there is no way that Frontier can compete when things go bad. It’s just something to keep in mind you’re trying to figure out if it’s worth it to gamble on Frontier for your next trip…
Podcast? Sure … just be certain to not sound as if you are coming from the inside of a tin can or other horrible environment… Hope that the sarcasm here carries to the voice…
Thanks Geoff! Yeah, I’ve got all the equipment for it (mic, software, etc) , and the sarcasm (lol), but the only thing left to figure out is what to actually talk about!
Sorry to disappoint you, but N235FR is a regular A320-214 (CEO)…
Dang it, you’re right!! Thanks for pointing that out, because I completely missed it for some reason. I guess I naturally assumed that it was a NEO because the interior was exactly the same as the other one, but I have no excuse for not even noticing the smaller engines. Thanks again – post updated with the correct info!
The intent of the South Terminal was to relocate all of the ULCCs there, since it’s not nearly as nice as the main terminal. Frontier was originally supposed to move, and that may still be in their plans I’m not sure. Definitely the source of the driver’s confusion though.
Interesting. I noticed a lot of construction going on while I was there, and with the South terminal looking so “temporary”, I was thinking that maybe a new terminal was being built to replace it? Maybe what I saw was just parking garage construction or something. Either way, the South terminal didn’t look very nice IMHO.