Bring your nickels and dimes with you on your next plane flight (but not in your pocket through security). You'll need them to do just about anything besides sit still on your next plane flight.
Welcome to the world of ultra low-cost carriers. This week Frontier joined the ranks of Spirit and Allegiant, by unbundling fees from the cost of airfare. The airline says on its website that this will allow travelers to pay for the services they want, and not for extraneous items that currently raise the cost of a plane ticket.
For devoted fans of Spirit and Allegiant, this model has proven very popular, reducing the cost of fares between major cities by as much as $100-$150 on popular domestic routes. Folks willing to pack light, buy a ticket at the airport, take whatever seat they are assigned and bring a snack will definitely save money.
Frontier fares were already generally lower than the major airlines it competes with -- especially to and from Denver. The new setup divides fares into Economy -- which includes the seat and storage under the seat in front of you -- and Classic Plus -- the more traditional setup that would include a carry-on bag, checked bag and advance seat assignment.
Fees for the Economy fare would include $25 for a carry-on bag and $3 to choose a seat. Travelers can also join the airline's Discount Den, an annual membership that would offer discounts on the fees. The airline has said through an FAQ page that membership will be free until June 30, 2015. This is similar to Spirit's $9 Fare Club -- in which regular Spirit fliers can get access to $9 fares on very select dates as well as other perks by joining this club for $59.95 per year.
These changes can make it difficult to do a direct apples-to-apples comparison on airfare between carriers. As always, we advise that you consider the cost of fees when you weigh airfare costs as you plan a trip. For travelers, it will often become a question of what's most important -- cost, convenience or experience. That answer may change depending on the type of trip you're planning.