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Low-cost airlines will have eye-catching deals until you see the extra fees

Frontier gate agents receive a commission each time they flag a carry-on bag that doesn't meet the airline's size limits.
Frontier Airlines
Posted at 8:04 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 15:29:02-05

DENVER — Frontier Airlines and other low-cost airlines like Spirit will have some eye-catching deals with spring break around the corner, but do yourself a favor and read the fine print. You may reconsider the $20 one-way ticket when you learn about the extra fees and downsides.

"It's a fee structure. It's a way to make money there," consumer expert Laura Daily told Denver7. "They can sell you a $30 ticket, but on average, if you fly Frontier, Spirit, you're going to pay maybe $125 to $150 each way in fees."

Denver7 spoke to several travelers Wednesday, like JD Jones, who flew with Frontier for the first time.

"Thought I was getting a good deal two months ago on a ticket, and now here I am like, 'Probably could have got it for $100 from Southwest and been in Phoenix by now,'" Jones said.

Instead, he paid up more money than expected.

"I have to pay for my luggage through Frontier twice — $78 from Little Rock to Denver, $78 from Denver to Phoenix. I also had to pay a $25 fee to process it through Frontier," Jones said.

According to Daily, there are Frontier fees for practically everything.

"That Diet Coke on an ultra low-cost is going to cost you a couple of bucks," Daily said. "You're going to pay for a carry-on bag, a checked bag, if that checked bag weighs more than 40 pounds, or it's what the airline considers oversized, they're also going to ding you. They are also going to get you for snacks."

On top of that, if you require assistance from Frontier agents at the airport, printing boarding passes and self-tagging your bag will cost you $25.

You may also realize that Frontier gate agents are a little more diligent than other airlines when it comes to ensuring carry-on bags are not bigger than the airline's limits. As it turns out, they get a commission each time they flag a bag and charge passengers additional fees.

In a statement to Denver7 News, Frontier addressed the commission, saying in part, "It is simply an incentive for our airport customer service agents to help ensure compliance with our policies and that all customers are treated equally."

According to Frontier's "optional services," if you accidentally enter your name wrong when you purchase your ticket, Frontier will charge you $75 to fix it.

Cancelling your flight, no matter how soon after booking, will cost you $99. Changing your flight plans will cost you nearly $50 if it's less than two months before your trip.

Frontier will also charge you $5 to check in on their website instead of checking in through their app.

By the way, if you wanted to complain or dispute any charge with Frontier, don't expect to chat with an employee over the phone. The company got rid of their live chat agents last year. Instead, you have to use a virtual chatroom or email them.

Finance company Nerd Wallet dug deeper into those hidden fees and found the expected add-on fees for a checked bag, a carry-on bag and selected seat for a one-way ticket cost an additional $145 on average. Spirit Airlines is right behind, costing an additional $137 with fees.

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