Upcoming Changes at Discount Airlines Frontier and Southwest

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Frontier Airlines announced major changes in its pricing structure this week, most notably charging passengers for carry-on baggage.

Beginning with fares purchased after April 28, Frontier will charge $25 for non-member carry-on bags when checked in online, $35 if checked in at the airport, and a whopping $50 if the bag is checked at the gate. To save money on carry-on prices, passengers can join Frontier’s new Discount Den membership program, and pay “only” $20 for the carry-on. Purses, laptop bags, diaper bags or backpacks will not be charged.

Frontier is also providing a variety of pricing for seats. If passengers allow Frontier to select their seating, there will be no charge. However, passengers will now pay $3 for standard seats, $5 for SELECT seats or $15 or more for STRETCH seats when booking online. The prices are $8, $15 and $15 or more, respectively, for the same seating if arranged at the airport at check-in.

The new Discount Den program will offer savings on carry-on and first checked bag prices, and will provide special deals to members via email. However, in order to be a member of Discount Den, customers must also be EarlyReturn members, which is currently free but will be available for a fee after June 2015.

The airline highlights the changes are not negative, as Frontier will now provide lower fares and allow customers to customize their airfare prices.

Meanwhile, discount carrier Southwest Airlines announced more destinations following its merger with AirTran. This summer, Southwest will launch its first international flights when it heads to The Bahamas, Jamaica and Aruba in July and Cancun and Los Cabos in August. In October, 15 new nonstop flights will be offered into the carrier’s hub city, Dallas.

The airline is quick to point out it is the only carrier that does not charge any fee for first or second checked bags, and does not charge for carry-on bags. Southwest also features discounted children and senior fares, and charges $12.50 for early check-in for guaranteed first boarding so families can get seats together.

–Lissa Poirot

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