Do you want to travel but are often deterred from planning because airline tickets are so high? Often times people just wait until they need to book a flight before they check out the prices. However, I have become a stalker on airline prices. If you haven’t read my post about finding cheap airfare, let’s start there. After you have a good understanding of how to find the best airfare, you may find that a discount airline like Frontier or Spirit has the best prices. In this blog post I’ll break down why they are different and how you can have a pleasurable experience on these airlines.
The Cons About Low-Budget Airlines
I’m just going to get right into the negative so you can start with knowing what you are getting into. The thing is, they upsell everything including:
- Carry-on luggage
- Checked luggage
- Assigned seats
- Snacks and drinks
A few other things:
- Seats with larger tray tables and reclining seats do cost more than the other seats.
- There’s no wifi (this may be the hardest for me on the longer flights).
The Pros About Low Budget Airlines
The main reason to fly a no-frill low budget airline is that they are reasonably priced and very budget-friendly. If you can accept that you just need to get to your destination on a reasonable budget, this is the best way. I’d honestly rather put more money towards a fun experience than an airplane ride because you aren’t really flying more than 5 hours if you are flying in the US. Plus this is hands down better than a long car ride. Have I have mentioned before that our family car ride maximum time is about 6 hours? So if we can get there in an hour or two this is a huge win in my book.
Tips For Saving Money on Frontier and Spirt Airlines
- Sign up for these airline emails – This is by far the best way to stay on top of the airline sales for airlines like Frontier and Spirit. Often times Frontier will have promo codes you can add onto the sale prices.
- Pack lightly – I must confess, I am an over-packer. When I am going on a work trip I will bring double the amount of clothes I need. I don’t really know why, because my trips are usually long I want to just decide what to wear that day based on how I am feeling. However, I have learned how to pack lighter when we travel for a vacation. I’ve also finally got the whole family on board. Airlines like Frontier will charge you for anything you carry on.
- Pay before you go – Frontier is very upfront about their fees. If you don’t feel like you can pack everything in a backpack, pay for a bag before you go. From when you book up until 24 hours before your flight, the bag fees are between $30 and $40. Honestly, this is not that much more than other airlines.
- Check your airline’s guidelines – Did you know that items needed for medical purposes or specific items like diaper bags don’t count towards a personal or carry on item? That means if you have something like a c-pap, put it in it’s own carrying case and put smaller items like your chargers inside it.
- Don’t book a seat – Frontier does charge you additional funds for an assigned seat. If you are traveling alone or don’t care if you sit next to the people you are traveling with, don’t assign yourself a seat and you’ll save money.
- Bring your own snacks – Since anything beyond water typically has a fee, bring your own snacks from home and buy a drink on the plane or just stick to water.
Tips for Packing a Backpack to Carry On A Plane
If you are flying on an airline like Frontier Airlines, you’ll want to focus on how to pack a small pack to make it count as your personal item.
Let’s talk about the “personal items” that you can bring on the plane and not get charged for. The guidelines on Frontier.com and Spirit.com are very clear so make sure you understand them before you go. However, both do state that you can bring a “small” backpack. The reference Frontier.com gives is to think “kid” size. I equate this to mean school bag size as in High School backpacks are A-OK. The size for a personal item like a backpack on Frontier is 18X14X8 and the golden rule is it has to fit completely under the seat in front of you. We’ve gotten to the point where we can now easily pack a week’s worth of clothes in a backpack.
I bought this backpack on Amazon.com. I didn’t want a cheap backpack, I needed something that would be strong to hold all of my stuff and one that would last. I found this Under Armour backpack and it’s great and the bonus is that it met the guidelines for Frontier perfectly!
Tips for packing a backpack:
- Minimize – leave things like the extra pair of shoes and hair dryers at home.
- Roll your clothes – I swear this is the easiest way to make multiple outfits fit in a small space.
- Travel sizes – pick up some travel size items to take up less room. Your hotel may have toiletries so skip the shampoo and conditioner.
- Re-wear things like jeans – c’mon, no one but you will know that you wore those jeans 2 days ago.
- Order things for when you arrive – we LOVE utilizing services like Amazon Now and Walmart Grocery pickup. Amazon Now allows your items to be delivered right to your hotel within 2 hours. Walmart Grocery is perfect if you are renting a car. Since our travels usually involve some type of road trip once we reach our destination by plane, we’ll order our snacks and water from the Walmart App. We even purchase a styrofoam ice chest to keep the waters cold. A whole case of water, ice, and the ice chest are actually cheaper than 4 bottles of water from a gas station convenience store! If you haven’t used Walmart Grocery before, you can sign up here and get $10 off your first order!
- Wear bulky things like jackets and boots on the plane.
Things we noticed while flying on Frontier
We’ve never seen them measure baggage. Not to jinx it but we have never seen them question luggage. So if you have maybe a half an inch bigger than it should be, it may be fine.
The legroom is really not any different than the other airlines.
Even with their fees, these airlines still beat out major competitors. We have flown round trip to Chicago for less than $75 per person from Phoenix, to Denver and back for less than $30 per person from Phoenix and less than $175 round trip all the way to Detroit from Phoenix. The other airlines couldn’t even come within a few hundred dollars of our total price.
They are often direct flights – Every flight we have flown has been direct with no layovers and as said above, these prices beat their competitors. When you are traveling with kids, I feel like getting off a plane and getting on another one is an inconvenience so this for me trumps not having something like reclining seats.
We’ve never had a flight delayed or canceled – Not to jinx myself again but one of the things I see people complain about with these airlines is the fact that they have had their flights delayed or canceled. Well, I have had that plenty of times on other major airlines and haven’t experienced on these airlines yet so I think it’s just a risk you take with general airline travel.
The seats aren’t that bad. They actually sit at an angle automatically. I personally never really recline my seat on any airline so this isn’t so bad for me. The small tray table kind of stinks but I got used to typing on my lap. If I ever feel uncomfortable I just stand up and stretch a bit.
The staff is pretty friendly. I think you could have a bad experience with any airline (I know I have had them with all airlines) but just because you are sacrificing some comfort it doesn’t mean you will sacrifice good service.