Frontier Changes: Sky Not Necessarily Falling

As reported by View From The Wing, Frontier is making some changes to it’s booking procedures.

Going forward, unless people book on the Frontier website, they won’t be able to select seats ahead of time and they’ll earn half the miles.

Since View From The Wing and MommyPoints have already discussed the obvious points here, I won’t go into a ton more detail on the changes (which are also pretty self-explanatory).

Even though I’m a family traveler, I don’t think this move is as bad as View From the Wing or MommyPoints make this out to be.
Don’t get me wrong, no seating assignments is worse than having an assigned seat.  And, surely, half miles are worse than earning full mileage.  And, while I could be wrong, I don’t think this will ultimately affect that many people adversely.

First, seat assignments.  I regard Frontier as something of a discount airline, akin to Southwest.  They do offer a few things that Southwest doesn’t, but they don’t have the network or benefits that a legacy carrier has.  So, people (families) are probably choosing them based on price and understand that they may have to sacrifice comfort to get a cheap ticket.  Additionally, Frontier has 3 classes of seating now and it can be difficult/impossible to book the two “more premium” classes of seats through an online travel portal now.  So, if someone is aware that Frontier has better seats and prefers them, they probably already book through the airline’s portal.

Second, miles.  Again, I think the discount carrier image plays a role here.  If people are searching for the cheapest Frontier fare I think they’re most likely searching for the cheapest fare of any airline.  If someone was a loyal Frontier customer, I suspect they would use the website for access to premium seats for free using a more manageable interface.  The customer who’s just looking for the cheapest ticket possible isn’t likely concerned about the mileage earned.  If a mile goes unearned in the forest that nobody was ever going to use, does it make a noise when it falls?

Full disclosure.  I don’t generally use third party booking sites.  I know there are some incentives, but I generally prefer to go one place to view my mileage account and reservations (at least for those airlines that have excluded AwardWallet viewing, like American and Delta).  I also don’t particularly find Travelocity, Expedia or Orbitz easier to use then the airline’s actual sites.

Bottom line?  Sure, this is bad for some customers as suggested.  I just don’t think it represents a large percentage of people who actually care about what they’re losing.

ETA:  Part of my bias here may be that I don’t want Frontier to ultimately end up having to pass on their costs for OTA bookings to me.  Similar to checked bag fees (since I rarely check bags), the airline has made a decision to improve their profitability.  Maybe I’m selfish, but I’d rather they pass on the OTA fee to the person incurring that expense for them, not me.  If that means I have to go book my tickets on their website to prevent myself from being impacted by this, I’m all for it.

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