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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Totally legit product reviews: Frontier Airlines

Jesse and I recently took a trip from Seattle to Washington, DC to see all our old pals. Being a typical cheapskate, I searched for flights on Expedia and selected whatever airline offered the most inexpensive tickets ... and that happened to be Frontier Airlines.

Let me just go ahead and tell you how that worked out for us.

Frontier used to be great. Back when they were their own independent airline, they were super fun and kind of luxurious. Flying Frontier was a treat.

But then they got bought by a private equity firm. And things went south.

For this particular trip, everything seemed great at first. The tickets were pretty cheap -- a bit cheaper than the alternatives, though not shockingly so. The flights connected through Denver in both directions, which I was happy about because Denver seems to actually be on the way from Seattle to DC. Not like all those stupid horrible connections I've made in ATLANTA and DALLAS on the same trip in the past.

Things took a turn for the worse when it came time to check in for our flights.

I dutifully headed over to and was greeted with an incredibly shitty website that looks like it was someone's college freshman web design project. 

And the mobile site looks like it was designed by a high school student.

I entered our names and reservation code, and was almost immediately faced with two unacceptable facts:

1. It costs $30 to carry a bag onto the plane if it's any larger than a briefcase.
2. Reserving a seat costs $8 per person per leg of the flight. If you do not pay the $8, your seat will be "randomly assigned" and your party will likely not be seated together.

As soon as I saw this, my face was like:

What the fart? I get charging for checked baggage -- I mean, checked bags require more infrastructure and manpower to handle. If nobody ever checked bags, imagine how much money the airlines and airport would save! But carry-on bags? How the hell do they cost the airline any money? Maybe a tiny bit more fuel to cover the extra weight, but that's it. And since they don't cost any real money, then why the hell are you charging me thirty effing dollars for them??!?! $5-$10 I might get over. $30 makes me angry. Especially since this wasn't mentioned when I was purchasing my tickets.

It also doesn't cost the airline any money to reserve my seat. I do it myself using the magic of the internet! By all means, charge more for seats with extra legroom. Charge more to sit at the front of the plane where you can exit first when you arrive.

But don't charge people extra to sit with their traveling companions. That's horseshit! Southwest doesn't even offer assigned seats at all, but you're STILL pretty likely to sit with your travel partner as long as you check in early. 

Since Jesse and I of course wanted to sit next to each other, that meant I paid a total of $32 extra for the pleasure of sitting in the middle seat. I paid extra for a f***ing middle seat. F*** you, Frontier Airlines.

And not this kind of middle seat with sexy ladies on either side.

Things took a bit of a turn for the better when I realized that Jesse's active duty military status meant we could have one extra carry-on bag for free. Stupid, pointless, offensive rules make me angry, but they make me a lot less angry when they don't apply to me. This just meant that when we got to the airport, we would need to check in with an agent (waiting in the long line first, of course) so she could print the proper boarding passes without charging us the $30. Now armed with the necessary "+1 carry-on allowed" boarding pass, we headed to the gate.

When it came time to get on the plane, we were pleased to find that the overhead bins were almost entirely empty. I guess that's what happens when you charge people THIRTY F***ING DOLLARS (CAN YOU TELL I'M REALLY ANGRY AT THIS??!?!) TO BRING BAGS ONTO THE PLANE. The plane itself was a piece of crap probably built in 1987. It was held together largely by duct tape and the prayers of the passengers on board. There wasn't even a copy of Sky Mall in the seat pocket, as Frontier presumably burned all the Sky Malls to help fuel the engines and save some money on gas. If you wanted a soda on the plane, it cost $2.

And when we arrived at DCA airport, it was in the dreaded Terminal A, which is the forgotten dingleberried asshole of that otherwise-lovely airport. F*** you, Frontier Airlines. We had to sprint to catch our train.

The trip home was more of the same, but with an additional bit of fun thrown into the mix. I guess the gate agents at DCA are a lot stricter and less fun-loving than the gate agents in Seattle and Denver (which makes sense, really), so they demanded that all carry-on items be measured in their stupid bin things. You know those old "if your luggage doesn't fit in this weird arbitrarily sized compartment that has no relation to the size of the luggage compartments on board the plane, then it's too big to take on the plane" things that used to be in airports everywhere until they were discontinued because they're stupid? Yeah, Frontier still has those and uses them. There's one bigger one that's for your $30 carry-ons, and then a smaller one that's for your free purse or briefcase-sized bag.

And in DC, they wouldn't let you on the plane until you had proven to them that your bags fit. So imagine this: it is 6AM, and there is a giant line of weary people who just want to get to their $8 seats and maybe relax with a $2 cup of coffee. But before they may embark, they are forced to shove their purses and backpacks into this bag measuring device one after another, as a humorless gate agent scowls at them and then marks their boarding pass with a bright red pen.

When it was my turn to stuff my backpack in the "personal items" box, it wouldn't fit at first so I had to really lean my weight into it, practically jumping up and down on it until it finally gave way and slid into the box. Jesse was encouraging me to "spit on it!" and "start with just the tip!" I replied that "I've shoved bigger into smaller!" 

The gate agent did not find our double entendres the least bit amusing. He then tried to yell at me for having two items (my backpack and my purse) while I was in the process of handing my purse to Jesse to carry onto the plane. "The purse is mine," he said. "I keep my tampons in it." Again, the gate agent was not amused.

At the gate next door, a group of Southwest employees were having a party. There was cake. And singing.

F*** you, Frontier Airlines.

Never again.

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