Well, this review is going to be something different than what I’ve traditionally done in the past. A bit of a travel review. But after our experience flying Frontier Airlines to get to and from Orlando, Florida for the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show I almost feel compelled to write about them. So, here I am.
Frontier Airlines for those that aren’t familiar with the airline is a discount airline based out of Denver, Colorado. Frontier Airlines services many major hubs in the United States. Among them are Texas cities Austin, Houston and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Denver, Colorado Cincinnati, California cities like Los Angeles and San Diego and stops in Florida like Miami, Jacksonville and of course Orlando. Frontier Airlines features a world-class fleet featuring renowned commercial aircraft ranging from the Airbus A318-111 to the A321-211. All of Frontier’s aircraft have an animal on the winglets (wingtips) and tails. Like ‘Cali the Mountain Lion”. They’re modern aircraft yet relatively basic. Meaning there aren’t creature comforts like USB ports or charging for laptops. Because Frontier is a discount airline they don’t feature those amenities. To make room for more seats on the flights some would consider Frontier Flights to have not enough legroom. More information that you need to know.
Seats are cheap because they are a base rate. In our case it was $39 USD each going down and $44 return. You’re allowed one personal item on board free of charge. This is like a small backpack, camera or laptop bag.
Carry-On baggage is $38 per bag and a checked-bag is also $38. Golf bags up to 50 lbs are considered a checked bag.
If you want to select your seat that costs an additional fee. Or you can let fate select your seats for you at no additional charge
Prior to booking the flight, I had concerns about what flying Frontier Airlines would be like. In preparing for the booking I conducted research and I was nearly horrified when I saw 1-star ratings. I think the average was 2.5-stars. Among the complaints was the lack of legroom, customer service at the ticket counter that was beyond reproach and in-flight staff that basically implied that they were non-existent. Basically, the bar was set extremely low and I figured “Well, you get what you pay for”. A defeatist attitude right? Maybe if my expectations were set so low it wouldn’t be that bad. Bear in mind, I’m not a diva. So the experience.
We were mired in the middle of Winter Storm Harper when Crystal received a notification from Google. The notice informed us that our flight was canceled. We were puzzled because we hadn’t received this information from them directly. So to get to the bottom of it I called their reservations line where I was assisted by a very nice representative. I asked her if it was true that our flight was canceled to which she confirmed it. I was so disappointed that I had a childish tirade like a spoiled brat who didn’t get the gift that they wanted. I thought… no PGA Show all because I thought that they made the decision very prematurely. But then I was later offered a make-up flight on Monday so I accepted the change (at no extra cost). So instead of getting to Florida on Saturday night, it would be Monday evening. Perfect… PGA Show bound. I didn’t purchase our seats but we were fortunate to be sat together… on a fully booked flight.
Our travel day arrived and off to Buffalo/Niagara International Airport we went. Two city buses and a 2 hour long Megabus ridge later we were at the airport. We approached the ticket counter and were greeted by the friendliest airline staff that I’ve ever been greeted by. We checked our bag, got our boarding passes and off we went through the TSA checkpoint. After killing time in the terminal we boarded our flight and we took off right on time as expected. Our flight was so smooth that we arrived well ahead of schedule. Oh! Speaking of the landing. Our Pilot-in-Command was so smooth touching down in Orlando that I didn’t even realize that we landed. upon completing our runout we were able to taxi right to our gate (instead of waiting on the tarmac like I have with Southwest) and the de-planing process began. Everything went smooth and as we got to baggage claim the bags started to come out some 5 minutes later. An amazing first impression.
After 5 days of basking in the chilled Florida air, it was time to head back home to sultry, sauna-like Buffalo, NY. Upon arriving at the airport we checked in at the ticket counter. Again we were met by very friendly staff that seemed to welcome us to their airlines. However, I made a mistake and screwed up on the 24-hour check-in. Because of the hustle and bustle of appointments at the show, I didn’t get us checked in until about 6 p.m. the night before. Our seats were separated from each other. This is where things got a little tense.
Personally speaking, I don’t like MCO (Orlando International) all that much. Arriving isn’t too bad but Departing is another. It just seems like a hot mess. Now factor in the government shutdown (it was just ending) and there you have a total back-up. The sign said the wait was 20 minutes… it was significantly longer. So after waiting in line, TSA announced that they were bringing in a canine to speed things up. It did, and we were whisked through the “maze” and then off to the conveyors and x-ray machines. My wife is a nervous flyer, to put it mildly. Not only that but she suffers from anxiety and mild claustrophobia. As we cleared the x-ray bins were mounting up, bins were falling all over the place and we were pinned down by bins and people scrambling to get their belongings and get to their gate. Crystal was having a hard time… she was in tears and I felt so sick to my stomach for her. She said, “We will never fly again”. It was a total nightmare. Plus, we knew that we were going to be separated from each other.
The flight home would have been a complete nightmare had it not been for their gate employee. This young man (Derrick Greaves) literally saved the day for us. I decided to approach him to see if the flight was sold out in the off chance that it wasn’t and explain the scenario. When I asked him about the status of our flight he informed me that it was. Instantly, my stomach ended up in my throat. So I decided to explain the scenario of Crystal not being a good flyer (extremely nervous) and the incident down at TSA. Mr. Greaves punched a few keystrokes into his computer and informed me that he had two seats available at the very back of the plane. I asked him if there was any chance that anything could be done and without a word, he put us together. I can’t begin to express how much gratitude I had. When I went back to where we were sitting I showed Crystal the new boarding passes and she asked: “How!?”. I simply said “See that young man over there? He did this for us”. She said that she was so thankful that she wanted to give him a hug so I said: “Go for it!”. When our section was called for boarding she hugged him and I shook his hand and said: “Thank-you” again.
The flight home was smooth… again we were early getting in and the de-planing was very smooth. We gathered our bag from the carousel and headed home.
I have no doubt that based on this experience I will be flying Frontier Airlines again. I don’t understand all of the hate that they’ve received. You can pay far more for airline tickets and get service that wouldn’t come as close to being as good as what I saw. I never like to bug anyone when I fly but if the flight would have been much longer I would have had to get up because my arse got so sore that it was numb. That might be just me. I thought the legroom was sufficient as a person who is 6′ tall. It’s a discount airline with budget-friendly prices. Most importantly they had very friendly and empathetic staff employed in the front line where you need them. Well done Frontier! If you fly to where I’m going… you have a repeat customer for as long as you fly out of Buffalo.
Until The Next Tee!!