Frontier Airlines has announced it will begin charging extra fees for such in-flight comforts as coffee and soda --and charge customers for carry-on bags if they don't book directly through the airline.
The Denver-based carrier said Wednesday that it will require a fee of $25-100 per carry-on bag by the summer for customers who buy the "Basic" fare — which is the cheapest bracket — from third-party sites, such as Hotwire, Orbitz and others.
The new carry-on fee is for bags in the overhead bin. Frontier said it will charge $25 if the fee is paid in advance, $100 if travelers wait to pay until they're at the gate. There will be no charge for smaller items tucked under the seat ahead of the passenger.
The airline said that all tickets purchased on FlyFrontier.com will include a free carry-on.
“With this change, we are ensuring that our most loyal customers – Ascent and Summit level members of EarlyReturns, those who book Economy, Classic and Classic Plus tickets, including all customers who book through FlyFrontier.com, will have more space onboard the aircraft for their carry-on bags,” Frontier CEO David Siegel said in the airline’s announcement.
In addition, Frontier will also begin charging $1.99 for coffee, tee, soda and juice on all flights, and coffee drinkers will be able to get refills for free.
Frontier continues to position itself as an ultra low-cost carrier, along the likes of Spirit Airlines. Frontier, which is owned by parent company Republic Airways Holdings Inc., has also been looking for a new buyer for the past 15 months.
Siegel says the move was to give customers access to the lowest fares possible. “As we unbundle our product further, we ensure those customers who want the absolute lowest fares can always find them at FlyFrontier.com,” he said.
However, George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog. com says the changes won't be a win for the consumer. "To call these changes an 'enhancement' to customer service is disingenuous at best. I suspect we will see other airlines study this move and perhaps copy it in the future."
He also said that charging more for customers who book through Expedia and Orbitz, for example, is an effective way to force consumers to book directly with the airline.
One more thing. If you buy your basic fare from a third party, you’ll earn less miles in Frontier’s frequent-flier program than you do today. The airline is changing its current one-point-for-every-two miles traveled structure to one where you'll get one mile for every four flown.