Budget Travel

A Spoiled Business Traveler Flies Frontier: The True Story of a Fare Sale Flight on a Budget Airline (With Bonus Kittens!)

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After two years of near-constant business travel, all on US Air (may it rest in peace) and/or American Airlines, I quickly earned status. And equally as quickly, I became one of those travelers. You know, the spoiled, always-upgraded, holding up your boarding process so the flight attendant can bring me a gin and tonic kind of traveler. I’ve even waved to my husband from seat 2C as he shuffled his non-status-having sorry ass back to seat 28F. Like while going on vacation together. (I’m really not a very nice person.)

Thus, it is safe to say: I don’t like flying in coach. But more than that, I don’t like staying on the ground. Which is why I will do pretty much anything to make travel affordable. And which is also why I found myself on a Frontier flight out of Trenton last month. A Frontier flight which cost a grand total of $30. Total. Round trip. From Trenton, New Jersey to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Outbound Trip

I have to admit, after spending far too long in the slightly-larger-than-a-Burger-King airport that is Trenton Mercer, there was fear in my heart as I boarded my first $15 flight. Would there be seats? A lavatory? Wings? An engine??? The answer to those questions were yes, yes, of course yes, and obviously yes. Though I could not help but snap a quick photo of said wings and one engine as I boarded, just for proof. There they are, up in the header photo of this post. It totally was a plane.

And more than a plane, it was actually a rather nice plane. It was either a newer model or had been renovated recently, as the seats were new and thin, allowing for–gasp–some semblance of leg room. My one personal item (more on this later) fit perfectly under the seat in front of me. And by some stroke of luck, I had no seat mates, which meant that I had an aisle, a middle, and a window seat all to myself.

But wait! There’s more! The flight attendants were actually nice. And hold onto your hats for this one–the plane took off early. And we landed early. And were able to, like, get off the plane early (a pet peeve of mine is arriving early only to sit on the tarmac at my destination waiting for an available gate. And annoyingly, I’ve found this to be more the rule than the exception.) I was driving away from the Sixt Rental Car facility before my flight was even scheduled to land!

It was baffling.

Of course, I did not celebrate at that point. No. I was confident that flight was a fluke, and that I’d pay for my cheap fare with a painful flight home.

I was wrong.

The Return Trip–With Bonus Kittens!

After enjoying a glass of chardonnay at MSP–a glass of chardonnay which, with tip, cost as much as my return flight–I sauntered over to the gate ten minutes before boarding to find…boarding was almost complete! Yikes! So I scurried on board to find seats, lavatories, wings and engines, just like before. And just like before, we took of–and landed, and got off the plane–early. (EARLY!)

The return flight was just as painless as the outbound flight, with one added bonus: the guy sitting sort-of next to me was flying with a bag of kittens as his carry on! That’s right–my $15 fare came with a kitten-adjacent seat! Shortly after I sat down, I noticed the man sitting at the window (I was on the aisle) was looking down at his personal item a lot. And then I saw the personal item move. And then I heard a meow. And then he pulled the bag up and I–and every single other person passing by during boarding–went ‘AWWWWW! KITTENS!’

After we had safely reached cruising altitude, the kitten-carrying man asked if I minded that he put the bag ‘o kittens in the middle seat (which was empty) to which I replied ‘that would be awesome’ and contented myself with staring at their little kitten faces for most of the flight (I also had a nice conversation with kitten-man. So, like, I wasn’t just some creepy silent woman molesting his pets.) Oh, and in case you were wondering: the kittens names are River and Tigger. No, I do not know which one is which. But really, can I get an ‘awwwww’?

So there you have it. A $30 round trip flight. Both flights were more than on-time. The flight crew was lovely, the planes themselves were perfectly acceptable, and I got to sit next to a bag of kittens. If that’s not a travel value, I don’t know what is.

Additional Tips for Flying Cheaply on Budget Airlines

  1. Make sure you print your boarding pass out in advance (or have a digital version on your phone.) I don’t think Frontier does this, but other carriers will charge you to do this at the airport. So, like, just don’t wait until you get to the airport to do it.
  2. Skip the in flight extras. Do you really need a soda? Do you really? Because they will charge for one. So, like, just don’t buy one. (Or if you must have a beverage, get a glass of wine. They are $7 on Frontier, just like on any other domestic coach flight.)
  3. If you want a specific seat, pay the extra fee when you book the flight. It will only get more expensive from that point on. (On Frontier, it was $9 per leg to reserve a seat at the time of booking; it was $15 per seat at the time of check in. Full disclosure: I paid an additional $18 ensure that I’d have an aisle seat. But that’s because I have issues.)
  4. The same goes for baggage; it will always be cheaper to pay for baggage–either checked or carry-on–at the time of booking. If you want to fly really inexpensively, just don’t take much stuff. I carried ONLY a personal item (which is free on Frontier) for my week-long trip to South Dakota. If I can do it–with half of that personal item filled with a dSLR and an extra lens–you can do it. I promise.
  5. Look for fare sales. Because the only thing better than a budget airline is a fare sale on a budget airline. (Did I mention $30 round trip?!?)

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Another fare sale is happening today on Frontier. Check it out HERE. And the future looks bright for cheap flights as well. Sixty-nine dollars from Hartford to Edinburg? Who wants to join me on a scotch-drinking trip in 2017?

Disclosure: No one paid me to write this. No one even encouraged me to write this. But come on–a fabulous $30 round trip flight? I had to share. Thanks, Frontier Air. I will fly you again. Oh yes. I will.

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