After almost 9 months of no air travel and no plans to get on a plane anytime soon, the moments where I’m truly excited about travel have been few and far between. In fact, most this year have involved renting RVs and ultimately buying an RV and a pickup truck (more on that in future stories). You might find it odd for me to be talking about a Frontier Airlines status match, especially since I’m normally on one of the big 3 domestic carriers.
Frontier Airlines is actually an airline I enjoy flying. They’re very “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get). They make no bones about charging for extras like seat assignments and carry-on bags, nor the size of their tray tables. But, their fare sales are legendary. Just today I got an e-mail from them offering $21 one-way tickets, which is probably twice as high as the cheapest fares they offer. And, when you consider programs like Kids Fly Free, it can be a great airline for families to travel on. The only downside is that the extras can really hurt when it comes to ticket prices.
Back in 2018 Frontier launched a new elite program that was more closely geared to business travelers. They also recognized the leisure travelers that are loyal to them, adding something very few programs offer, family pooling (the new Air Canada loyalty program just added this). At the time, I noted that I was intrigued by Frontier’s new offerings, but wasn’t sure if I would partake. Long story short, I didn’t, though I do continue to fly them periodically and check their pricing.
Frontier Status Match
Airline elite status really hasn’t been on my radar, though I have been toying with using Delta American Express cards to earn top-tier Diamond status in 2021. Then, I stumbled on an article by my good friend Summer Hull about her new Frontier status. She had taken advantage of a status match offer Frontier Airlines had announced to match to their mid-tier, Elite 50K. Summer was also offered the opportunity to pay $499 to upgrade to Elite 100K. She passed on that opportunity. I was a hard pass on spending $500 for airline status while not traveling as well. I finished reading the story and moved on.
But, as with most things, the idea of a Frontier status match was still in the back of my head. It took me a bit to realize I had overlooked a pretty obvious difference in the value of a status match for me versus Summer’s situation. You see, Summer used her mid-tier United Gold status to qualify for Frontier Elite 50K. I have top-tier United 1K status. After double-checking, I confirmed I could match to Frontier Elite 100K.
Frontier Elite Status
As you can see from the chart, there are plenty of options to qualify for a Frontier status match. There is a $49 fee to apply for the status match, but the benefits of Frontier elite status can easily recoup that $49 in one trip. Here’s a chart of benefits:
Discount Den is $59.99 alone and gets you access to Kids Fly Free. But, the real gravy here is the Works bundle for you and your family. It’s actually for up to 8 total people traveling on the same reservation. The Works bundle covers add-ons such as carry-on and checked bags as well as seat selections. Individually, you can spend $20-$50 on any one of these. The full Works bundle usually goes for $100 or more per ticket. That’s huge for a family of four.
The status match was supposed to end on December 1st. By the time I realized, the deadline had already passed. I was speaking at a virtual conference and mentioned that I thought it was an attractive offering elite members of the big 3 airlines should really consider. One of the executives from Frontier happened to be an attendee (is that what you call someone who tunes in to a virtual conference?) and noted that they had extended the deadline. I roped him into sitting down for quick conversation on why Frontier decided to extend the offer. He gave me some hints on when they might pull the offer, and also their thinking behind the idea. Suffice it to say, I was interested.
I plunked down my $49 and less than 24 hours later I was a Frontier Airlines Elite 100K member.
The Final Two Pennies
I wish I my crystal ball was working correctly and could tell me what 2021 will look like from a travel perspective. I definitely think things will get better, which was why I was comfortable plunking down $49 in case I am able to pull off a trip on Frontier in 2020. Just one trip with a carry-on bag and a seat assignment probably covers that investment. If I can use them on a handful of business trips and pull off a family vacation, it’ll be money well spent. I think it’s a long shot I fly 100,000 miles in 2021 on Frontier Airlines to re-qualify for status. Heck, since I still don’t have any airline tickets booked in 2021, I’d be surprised if I fly 100,000 miles, period.
With all that being said, I think if you have status that you can match to the Elite 50K level, this is a solid $49 investment. If you can match to Elite 100K and have any shot to use the status, it’s a no-brainer. Again, I think it’s a slam dunk to save $500 on a family vacation with the Works bundle, especially a ski-trip to their Denver hub. Check out the podcast for the short 7-minute interview with Frontier, including some insight into when this opportunity is likely to go away.
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