Benny the Bear, an Airbus A319 on approach for Denver International – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
It has been a while since we here at AirlineReporter reviewed a mainline Frontier flight, four years to the month, in fact. Since then, Frontier has been freed from Indianapolis-based Republic and has made serious changes to its business model. Denver’s hometown airline and longtime low-cost carrier spent most of 2014 transforming itself into an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC). This change was prescribed by the company’s new owners – Indigo Partners. Indigo co-founder William Franke has some experience with ULCCs; in fact he has successfully invested in a number of them, most notably Wall Street’s favorite: Spirit.
I have long wanted to experience Frontier, but the timing and opportunity never worked out. That is until they published a $76 round-trip from Kansas City to Denver. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “fan” of the ULCC market, domestically they tend to be more interesting than say, the legacies. While I gravitate more to LCCs (like Southwest, Virgin, or JetBlue) it’s fun to check out their ULCC brethren. LCC and ULCC airlines like to suggest that their competitive prices create demand and with a crazy sub $100 fare, I suddenly found a two-day hole right in the middle of my work week.
Frontier Airline aircract lined up at Denver
The airline blogosphere (and twittosphere) was abuzz when Southwest Airlines announced their bid for Frontier Airlines. Folks started talking like it was a done deal. Southwest’s bid was $170million versus Republic Airline’s $109million, it seemed there was no question who would be the victor. However, Southwest was unwilling to move forward without a labor agreement and Republic won the right to purchase Frontier Airlines.
The largest roadblock to Southwest’s victory was their plan for the integration of the Frontier pilots. Southwest wanted Frontier pilots to be at the bottom of the seniority list, while Frontier pilots wanted equal treatment and the ability to stay in Denver (where Frontier is based).
If this all goes through (the shareholders still need to give their approval), it will create a very interesting airline. Republic already serves as a regional carrier for larger airlines (AmericanConnection, Continental Express, United Express, US Airways Express and Delta Connection). This summer, they purchased Midwest to expand their fleet and routes. Knowing how Republic works, I doubt they will combine their airlines under one brand. They have already talked about moving aircraft between Midwest and Frontier, but for now, the cute animals get to stay. I am sure there will be some consolidation between the airlines to save money, but probably for most people it will look like two separate airlines.
It will be interesting to see how Frontier and Midwest grow and of course how Southwest will grow (or shrink) at Denver. Image: BFIguy
Virgin American's RED where you can order food and drink right at your seat.
In an age where almost everyone has an Debit or Credit Card and that airlines are charging for more things on flights than just movies and alcohol, it seems obvious that airlines should be taking credit cards in flight.
Going cashless has many benefits (not having to have cash on the plane, don’t have to ask for change, encourages people to spend more, etc), but some flight attendants are worried what happens if the card reader doesn’t work? And there are concerns that the credit cards will slow down service.
Although airlines that have already implemented the service show there is a learning curve, but once learned, service can actually pick up.
Virgin America probably has the coolest system where you can order items on the entertainment module in the seat back and actually swipe your credit card there.
Current American cashless airlines:
* United Airlines: Since late April
* American Airlines by June 1
* Southwest Airlines
* Sun country Airlines
* Frontier Airlines
* Alaska Airlines
* MidWest Airlines
* Virgin America
There could be more — there doesn’t seem to be a full list of airlines and I tried to search down as many as I could.
Although the additional charges might be bothersome, at least most airlines are making an effort to make paying them easier. Image: NotCot.com