If all you want to know is if Frontier Airlines is good or not, the easy answer is: YES! When things go right, Frontier Airlines is really good. On the flip side, when things go wrong, it’ll likely be such a horrific experience that it’ll make you vow never to fly them ever again.
In my experience, the biggest problem with Frontier is their on time performance (or the lack of it). 4 out of my last 5 Frontier Airlines segments have been delayed by 20 minutes or more.
Is Frontier Airlines the worst airline in the world? No. Not by a long shot. Are they the best airline in the world? Not even close. The reality is that they are fantastically mediocre.
Frontier Airlines pros and cons
As an airline reviewer who has tried them all (multiple times over), I get a lot of questions about Frontier Airlines. I usually respond with opinions and advice in the form of a pros and cons list, so I figured it might be beneficial to list them here for everyone to read:
- Their fleet of aircraft is relatively young and very well-maintained. You won’t have to worry about flying on rickety old airplanes when you’re flying Frontier Airlines.
- Their Denver hub is a very nice place to make a connection. It’s large, there’s lots of great food options, in most importantly, they share it with United Airlines. This will come in handy when your Frontier flight gets so horribly delayed that you need to find other options.
- I’ve never encountered flight attendants on a Frontier Airlines flight who didn’t love their job. Their crews are generally excellent.
- Compared to Spirit Airlines, they have very thorough coverage of the western United States. Those of you who can read between the lines know that there is a con that comes with this as well (see the “cons” section below)…
- They offer premium seats (called Stretch Seats) at the front of the plane for a reasonable additional cost. These are economy seats with just a bit of extra legroom, but as you can see in my Frontier A320neo Stretch Seat review, it’s a decent upgrade in my opinion.
- On most flights, you will have the option to purchase food from the menu. It’s essentially overpriced snacks and drinks, but it is food.
- Compared to Allegiant Air (arguably the worst airline in the US), Frontier’s nice looking interiors and swanky Denver hub makes it feel like a better run airline.
- Frontier Airlines is ultra low-cost carrier, meaning that you’ll have to pay extra for everything. They will lure you in with $49 flights, but by the time you finish paying for extras like checked bags and seat selection, it’s not all that cheap anymore.
- Although Frontier Airlines covers the western United States better than the competition, their lack of destinations on the East Coast is worth noting. This is a very western-focused airline.
- Frontier serves many of it’s destinations only once (or twice) daily. This is bad when your flight is delayed or canceled, since it means that they can’t just put you on the next flight and get you there a few hours late. In many cases, passengers end up being delayed for days and not hours.
- The regular economy seats on all Frontier Airlines aircraft are some of the most uncomfortable in the entire United States. Seat pitch is minuscule, and the seats themselves are as hard as a cinderblock. Sit in one for an hour, and I’ll guarantee you’ll agree with my decision to rank them near the bottom of my annual list of the best domestic US airlines.
- They are notoriously worst airline in the US when it comes to on-time performance. You almost have to expect being delayed whenever you fly Frontier Airlines (unfortunately).
- Nothing is complementary on Frontier Airlines. Even if you want a glass of water, you’re going to have to pay for it.
- At the time of this writing, Frontier Airlines does not partner with any other airline or loyalty program. If you want to earn Frontier Airlines points, your only options are to take a flight with them, or use their co-branded credit card(s) for daily purchases.
The reasons (I think) why everyone hates Frontier Airlines
As I’ve already mentioned, the biggest problem that Frontier Airlines is it’s poor on time performance. Insider ranked them dead last in on time performance of all the US airlines back in 2019. They came in at a lousy 73.1%
Seeking more up to date information, I went over to flighstats.com and averaged out the on time performance of 20 random Frontier Airlines flights over the past six months. It seems that things haven’t improved, as I calculated the number of on time flights to be 74.8%.
Of course my little test represented a small sample of their entire route network, but it’s close enough to prove a point(ish): You are probably going to be late when flying Frontier, and it’s most likely the reason why everybody hates them so much.
I also hear a lot of complaints about poor customer service. Personally, I’ve never had any bad interactions with Frontier Airlines employees, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those claims are false. When pushed to the limit (flight delays, cancellations, bad weather, overcrowding, etc) things get heated. Airline employees are humans too, and it shouldn’t be surprising to read about altercations when an irate passenger tells them to **** right the hell off.
For anyone interested, I also made a video about all the reasons (I think) that people hate Frontier. It’s more of a review actually, but I couldn’t help but to ask tough questions during the journey from San Diego to Denver:
All the reasons why I personally think Frontier Airlines is good (almost great actually)
Personally, I’ve got no issues with Frontier Airlines. I consider them to be a fun and quirky alternative to the mega carriers here in the US, and it’s a nice change of scenery to fly with them from time to time.
- They offer convenient nonstop flights to secondary cities such as Cedar Rapids, IA and Branson, MO. On any other airline, you would have to make a connection somewhere along the way.
- As long as you don’t pay for any extras, it’s an extremely cheap way to fly.
- The Denver hub is really nice, and it’s worth visiting just for views of the surrounding scenery (especially in the winter).
- They help to keep my expectations in check. For example, if I fly Frontier Airlines and things go as bad (or worse) than I was expecting, it makes me appreciate the major airlines more than I did before. Flaws and all.
- They have been aggressively refreshing their entire fleet of aircraft. My Frontier A319 main cabin review (from 2015) is a eye-opening reminder of how far they’ve come since then!
Can you trust Frontier Airlines?
Even though I like Frontier Airlines (and I tend to think that some of the hatred toward them is overblown), I would not trust them for an important flight. My biggest issue with Frontier is the fact that I could be stranded for days if they cancel the flight on me. I can’t afford to take that risk if I’m headed to an important business meeting or a much-needed vacation.
The bottom line is that Frontier Airlines is a perfectly good option if your schedule is somewhat flexible. If there’s no wiggle room at all, choose one of the legacy carriers instead (Delta, United, American, or even Southwest).
How to have a good experience flying Frontier Airlines
Although it’ll impossible to avoid problems when flying (especially with Frontier), there are some specific things you can do to reduce the risk of the entire experience imploding on you:
- Arrive at the airport expecting to be delayed. Showing up completely intolerant of arriving at your destination late is it going to make things miserable for you. Chill out, relax, and remember who you’re flying with.
- Have a Plan B. Immediately after booking your flight, you should start thinking about alternate ways to get to your destination if the flight is canceled. How long would it take to drive instead? What other airlines have similar flight times? The more you know, the better you’ll feel.
- Expect the worst, hope for the best. Nobody likes a Negative Nancy, especially since she’s most likely the one who is going to flip out from the stress of overcrowded gait areas, tiny seats, and having to pay for a cup of water.
I’ve only flown on Frontier once (A319, MSY-DEN, 5A), and honestly it was pretty good. There was a slight delay (nothing too bad), and even though the interior was the same as Spirit’s (the branding is a lot less obnoxious though), I found the seats to be slightly more comfortable for some reason. The legroom wasn’t a problem for me, but that was 4 years ago and now I might more than 29″ pitch. As for the crew, they were quite friendly, but I think that Spirit’s are friendlier and more cheerful from my experience.
I agree with all your points, although the regular seats don’t look half as good as the Stretch seats. I think Frontier is a nice cheap alternative for flying in the western US. Great article!
Thanks Peter! Yeah, I like Frontier. Which is why I’m really glad that they broke off merger talks with Spirit. They’re good cheap transportation IMHO, and I’m glad they’ll be sticking around for a while!
Frontier charged me $99 because they decided my personal item was a carryon. No one spoke to me at the gate, no one asked me to put my item in the sizer. The charge just appeared on my credit card. I’ve been in touch with customer service all the way to the executive level. They refuse to refund the money. They claimed my personal item didn’t fit fully in the sizer….but they never asked me to put it in the sizer. I will not fly Frontier again…it’s a matter of principle.
I guess if you buy a ticket expecting NOT to arrive at your destination, well yes, you won’t be as upset. But how often is that? almost never? When I make reservations, I do so because I NEED to get to my destination. And, like most, I am happy for a deal in cost, but a deal in cost with Frontier is invariably, NOT a deal. You will be eaten up by trip delay costs, food, hotel, time and sleep most likely, just to name a few.
No, unless they are the ONLY option for a trip, I will NEVER fly Frontier again. But hey, I just want to get to my destination, call me silly.
Frontier is the most unreliable airlines out of El Paso, TX in 2022. Every flight plan made with them has been delayed by hours and/or cancelled. Also, their gate agents are staffed by bitter children and are often rude to their customers. (40 year flyer)
Never again! Paid extra for extra legroom and ended up with almost zero waist room: a 400 pounder on each side
I booked Frontier for a flight from Orlando to Columbus because they were the cheapest option, but it ended up costing me way more than if I had gone with any other airline from the beginning. My flight was canceled with no reason given and they had no seats on flights to Columbus for 4 days, and they would not provide hotels or meal vouchers, and wouldn’t put us on another airline. Their staff at the airport was incredibly rude and didn’t seem to care at all that Frontier was leaving us stranded for 4 days with no compensation. I ended up having to book a last minute seat on a Southwest flight that cost over 3 times more than what I had paid for the Frontier flight since I was booking so last minute. It was my first and definitely my last time ever booking Frontier.