Strap in, boys and girls. We have a lot of ground to cover.
The past 5 years have been the rise of the low-cost carrier. That phenomenon occurred at the same time the legacy Big 3 carriers (American, Delta and United) were cutting benefits for elite members. Gone were the days of frequent upgrades, earning based on the distance flown and other status perks. During that time, Frontier Airlines recreated themselves as a ULCC, ultra low-cost airline.
While they have a newer flight of Airbus planes, they’ve also managed to put a lot of seats on those planes. Frontier also stripped down the seats, moving to smaller tray tables and spartan seat backs. They did keep a few rows of seating near the front of the plane with extra legroom and bigger tray tables. I’ve flown them a handful of times and found the product surprisingly acceptable. The staff is friendly, the planes are clean. And, if you pay a few bucks more for those seats near the front of the plane, it’s fairly similar to flying Economy Plus on United.
Competing For Business Travelers
Frontier has had a habit of dabbling with new routes, being willing to change direction and kill service they don’t deem profitable quickly. As they’ve grown, they have a lot more coverage than when they were really just Denver-based. While many flights operate between secondary cities, there is the real possibility that a business traveler could rely mostly on the Frontier network.
Frontier had me out in Denver a few weeks ago to discuss the changes to their program. I’ll admit, going in I was skeptical. I walked away from it thinking that there’s a reasonable shot I would fly them more in 2019. And, if I was a Denver-based flyer, I’d give some serious consideration to them being my primary carrier.
New Elite Levels
The new Frontier program has 3 tiers, each represented by the number of miles you need to achieve the tier. Here are the tiers plus their benefits:
- Free carry-on bag
- Family pooling of miles
- Free seat assignment
- Free stretch seating (extra legroom) if available at check-in
Elite 50K earns all the benefits of 20K plus the following:
- Family seating (get seats together when traveling with your family).
- 50% off Discount Den membership
- 25% mileage bonus on paid flights
Elite 100K earns all the benefits of 50K plus the following:
- Free Discount Den membership
- 50% mileage bonus on paid flights
- Free the WORKS bundle for the entire family
For those unfamiliar with the WORKS bundle, it’s a collection of benefits that Frontier usually sells:
- Free carry-on bag
- Priority boarding
- Free checked bag
- Free seat selection
- Change your flights without penalty
- Free refunds on paid tickets
That’s a pretty good stack of benefits. In the past, I’ve seen Frontier charge roughly $100 for this bundle. So, someone earning 100,000 elite qualifying miles on Frontier really does get a ton of valuable benefits, especially if they travel with their family a few times a year.
But Wait, There’s More!
No, not a set of Ginsu knives (for you folks as old as me). The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard comes with a host of new benefits. Issued by Barclays, here’s what you can expect to receive for your $79 annual fee:
- 40,000 mile sign-up bonus after you spend $500 on the card in the first 90 days
- Earn elite status from credit card spend (can you tell I like this benefit????)
- Earn 5 miles per dollar on all purchases made at flyfrontier.com
- And, 3 miles per dollar on restaurant purchases
- You’ll earn 1 mile per dollar on everything else
- Earn a $100 flight voucher each year you spend at least $2500 on the credit card
- Family pooling for up to 8 people
- Keeps your miles from expiring as long as you charge once every 6 months
- Award redemption fee waiver
- Zone 2 priority boarding
In Honor Of Early Returns (Mileage Nerds Will See What I Did There)
I’ll have more to say on both the new Frontier Airlines elite program and credit card in the near future. We’ll make a deep dive, I promise. I’m also working on getting one of their executives to come on my podcast to talk much more in depth.
For now, though, I wanted to touch on a few high points. Flying to Denver for this event, I didn’t think there was any way I would consider Frontier for elite status. My full elite snob status was in effect. And, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I probably won’t end 2019 with elite status on Frontier. But, that’s really just a by-product of the lack of timely flights out of my home airport of Washington-Dulles.
They’ve built a compelling program for business travelers to consider, whether you’re an occasional or very frequent traveler. Offering a 1:1 ratio on dollars spent translating to elite status progress is incredibly beneficial. It means if you’re anywhere near the next elite tier in their program, you only have to use their credit card for a few months to earn tangible benefits.
I like that the entry elite level is 20,000 miles. That’s less than the Big 3 airlines, and it’s based on distance flown. This means you can take advantage of some of their ridiculous $20 fares to top off your elite status as well.
There are also rich earning opportunities if you’re buying your Frontier tickets with the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard. Even with lower fares, 5 miles per dollar will add up quickly. And, family pooling is a huge plus. That means when you pay for tickets for your kids, those miles won’t go to waste. You can fold them into your account and use them to help get your next free ticket.
The (Early) Final Two Pennies
In a nutshell, Frontier Airlines made me stop and pay attention. I’m not 100% certain I’m shooting for some level of elite status with them in 2019. But, they’ve got me interested. We’ll talk more in depth about their fleet expansion and the routes that are likely to come with it. There’s news on some cool things they want to do to make flying more fun for kids. And, plenty of reasons why these changes are good for families. Lots to take in. I’ll also be interested to see what other bloggers think of the news.
Color me a fan of the new Frontier!
The post Frontier Airlines Has A New Elite Program! And, A New Credit Card To Boot! was published first on Pizza in Motion