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My Review: Frontier Airlines Q400 from Denver to Aspen

Frontier Bombarider Q400 (N502LX) sits at Denver, waiting to take me to Aspen.

Frontier Bombarider Q400 (N502LX) sits at Denver, waiting to take me to Aspen.

Being based in Seattle, I have had plenty of opportunities flying on Bombardier Q400s via Horizon Air Alaska Airlines. When I had the opportunity to recently fly from Seattle to Aspen, for a ride on a Beechcraft Starship, I did not have too many choices on what to fly from Denver (DEN) to Aspen (ASE). I could either fly on a United Airlines CRJ 700 (operated by Skywest) or a Frontier Airlines Q400 (operated by Lynx Aviation). Being the aviation fan that I am, I chose my airline based on the aircraft type and wanted to experience the Q400 flying into Denver — lucky for me, it was the cheaper of the two tickets as well.

When landing at DEN from Seattle (SEA), I had about an hour and a half layover. This was a good thing, since the Q400s are located pretty much at the end of the airport, down some stairs and at the end of a very long and narrow hallway. I kind of wish I would have spent more time in the main terminal, since the waiting area for regional flight do not have too much to offer.

The Q400 is not known for being very roomie, but this flight was almost empty, so I had plenty of room.

The Q400 is not known for being very roomy, but this flight was almost empty, so I had plenty of room.

Our flight was pretty empty, with about 20 people flying on the 70 passenger aircraft. Boarding was easy with one announcement made for people to start boarding and it only took a few minutes. One of the attractive parts about flying on a regional carrier is the increased chance of boarding on the tarmac. Although most air travelers probably hate boarding this way, for an airline fan, nothing can beat it.

When boarding there was a cart that passengers could put their carry-ons to be placed in the cargo-hold and not in the cabin. All I had was a back-pack, so I opted to bring that on board… bad call. Even though it was small (in carry-on standards) it still wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin. Lucky for me, I had no problems storing under an empty seat, but if the plane was full, stuffing a back-pack under my seat would have really taken a lot of my space.

For weight distribution, everyone sat near the back of the plane. I was in row 7 and I was the farthest to the front and there was no one even around me.

Many passengers might not enjoy this view when looking outside, but I love it.

Many passengers might not enjoy this view when looking outside, but I love it.

Unlike Alaska’s Q400s, Frontier’s have sun screens and the seats are able to recline. Sure, nice touches, but this flight was only about 45 minutes, so these features meant little to me.

Engine start up on a turboprop is always my favorite part of the flight and those sweet Pratt & Whitney PW150A engines did not disappoint. Being in row 7, I had a favorable view watching them slowly start up and hearing the growl of the engines. Again, maybe not something the majority of passengers would enjoy, but it is one of the reasons I choose to fly on a Q400 when I have other options.

The views flying from Denver to Aspen were prettying amazing. Flying low in the Q400 sure helped.

The views flying from Denver to Aspen were prettying amazing. Flying low in the Q400 sure helped.

As I normally do, I had my camera at the ready to take photos as we took off. Yes, you can yell at me for keeping an electronic on while taking off, but there is no way that a camera is going to affect an airplane. It is very rare for a flight attendant to say something, but this was one of those flights. I was told that I had to turn off my camera and had to wait until we reached 10,000 feet before turning it on… sigh — okay fine. I may not agree with the rules, but I am not going to argue with the person just trying to do their job.

We were also told that we would not be able to turn on our cell phones during the entire flight. Not just airplane mode, but it couldn’t be on at all. My guess is that since we never flew very high, we would still be able to get reception during the flight and possibly cause interference. Either way, I listened and kept my phone off and enjoyed the view out the window.

This wolf pup's name is Wolfgang and he looks pretty much at home in Aspen.

This wolf pup's name is Wolfgang and he looks pretty much at home in Aspen.

The short flight was pretty bumpy, especially near the end. Again, most people probably wouldn’t like the idea of flying on a turboprop in turbulence, but I actually kind of enjoy it . It was obvious that this plane had been in turbulence before. Even when the bumps were not that bad, but the overhead bins were shaking like it was a huge storm and competed with the engines on making the most noise.

The weather got worse as we got closer to ASE and with the rapid descent, the flight attendants did not even get up to do their final safety check, but asked us to make sure our seats were up and belts buckled for landing. Okay, I can understand that, but they never got up during the entire flight anyhow. Not that I need a drink during a 45 minute flight, but at least getting up once to check on the passengers would probably be a good idea, instead of sitting in your jump seat chit-chatting with each other.

Flying into Aspen was quite beautiful and a bit aggressive. We bounced around as heading down at a steep angle to make it into the airport. As an aviation lover, this flight was great, but I could see how most people would not think the same way. But, if you are looking to fly into Aspen, you do not have much of a choice, other than flying on a CRJ700 or a private plane. Good thing I love flying and most people are willing to do it to experience Aspen.

A few more photos of my Frontier Q400 flight…

11 comments to My Review: Frontier Airlines Q400 from Denver to Aspen

  • robby

    great post david…great photos!
    reminds me of a flight I made years ago (79) in high school in the cockpit of a Rocky Mountain Airways flight on a Dash 7, from stapleton to vail, in the main cabin on the return. wow, what an experience!

  • Great review. Love the Dash 8’s. Took three from Calgary to San Fran via Seattle and Portland a few months ago on Alaska / Horizon. I liked your first pic with the boarding ramp – something I saw in San Fran but have never seen in Australia. Will read some more of your reviews – good job. Check out mine if you have a sec too.

  • LittleDudy

    Interesting report, i love flying aswell and would never say no to a Q400 flight but as you said it, I can understand normal people if they don’t like this plane, i flew on it 8 times with Flybe and i think even me would get bored after an hour and an half, the noise is quite impressive. But as i never flew more than one hour so far, it’s fine.
    Also, I had the same experience with the luggage, even if i say it doesn’t fit inside, flybe wouldn’t let me putting it in cargo-hold without charging me.. So everytime it’s the same story, I have to find an empty place.

  • Yasa Kusuma

    I also choose flights based on type of airplane…get excited during turbulence (watch the wings flex!)

    I used to fly regularly on Fokker F27 Friendships when I was a kid, and boy was I happy to watch the landing gears go up/down (they were integrated behind the propellers…how AWESOME is THAT!)

  • Erica

    I fly Frontier fairly regularly. I actually did get a flight on one of these Lynx Q 400s from DEN to OMA. This was at the very early stages of the Republic buyout, when they ran the Qs on more routes. DEN – OMA is about an hour and a half (on a jet…).
    It was the holidays…it was packed, and the tallest, biggest guy sat next to me! He tried to use his computer, but the tray table didn’t come down all the way, and it didn’t really work for him.

    I did get to board from the tarmac that day. The regional terminal at DIA is nothing to write home about, and in general, I like the Denver airport. I couldn’t believe how far you had to go to get there. I called my mom to tell her we had to walk outside to board, it was cold (by Seattle standards) that day, so it was a chilly walk (my coat was in my carry-on/checked bag on the Q)

    That was a memorable trip. Now that I am in the Denver metro area, I look forward to many departures from DIA. I will miss SEA, it’s a nice airport, too, easy to use, I think. Though, for the least hassle you can possibly imagine, OMA is something else. No lines. Ever. 2 terminals. 50/50 shot and you can split the difference when your people come to get you! Even the TSA folks in OMA are friendly, they don’t seem to be terribly worried and are, actually, nice to the passengers. I make conversation with them frequently, and they don’t seem to mind.

  • […] The Q400 is not known for having spacious overhead bins (although the Q400nextgen does do a pretty good job) If you have a larger carry-on, you can give it to the Porter employee at the gate and they will return it to you once you land. This is a similar service that Alaska and Frontier Airlines also offer on their Q400s. […]

  • Ryan

    Hi David,

    Intersting view on the flight, I have been flying the Q’s for Lynx/Republic for several years now. I never get tired of flying in the mountains, everyday is a different view. Few people know that our Q’s are the only commercial aircraft that are approved for a circle to land in Aspen. When the winds are strong out of the north and Skywest can’t get in we can circle and land on rwy 33. I hope the Q’s don’t go away in Denver, I feel the airplane is a perfect fit for mountain flying.

    Happy flying….

  • Mark

    I was a first time passenger in a Q400 from Newark to Pittsburgh today. I loved the plane with one annoying exception, noise. I was in seat 14B. Above my head and a little aft was a loud noise during taxi, takeoff, approach, and taxi. After landing gear was retracted noise went away. If the noise is normal passengers should have been informed before hand. It was too loud. I will NOT fly in a Q400 until someone tells me what the root cause of the noise was and that it’s normal. I assume it was hydraulic or APU both of which I don’t like.

  • […] BONUS: Flying a Frontier Airlines Bombardier Q400 into Aspen and a Q400 with Porter […]

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