Flight Review: Frontier 405 DEN – LAX

Background/Ticketing for Frontier 405

I bought my Frontier 405 flight from Denver to Los Angeles as part of a round-trip ticket on Orbitz. The purpose of my visit to LA was to film a video with Post Script Production of my grandfather, Marv. The shoot lasted 2 days over the weekend and was a smashing success. I decided to travel on Wednesday night from Denver through Tuesday leaving Los Angeles to take advantage of the lowest fare possible. The round-trip ticket cost was $141.10 (from Orbitz). One of the reasons I decided to purchase it from Orbitz rather than from the Frontier website directly was because I like earning Orbitz Rewards Points for my trips, and I had no such loyalty affiliation (yet) with Frontier. I used the Orbitz day finder tool to find the cheapest fare +/- 3 days and that drove the decision to book Frontier. Typically I fly United (and actually have reached Silver status with United this year), but the prices on United were coming in around $230 – Frontier 405 was just considerably cheaper. This drove my decision to a price play rather than a loyalty play for the booking.

Orbitz Booking for Frontier 405

Orbitz Booking for Frontier 405

Before finalizing my purchase from Orbitz, I made sure to go to the FlyFrontier website to create a frequent flyer account with Frontier – it’s called the EarlyReturns program. Incidentally, I found out that Frontier is changing their loyalty program in February 2015 – the program will retire Ascent and Summit elite status and launch a brand new elite tier, Frontier Elite. The new Frontier Elite will offer a simple elite tier structure, but will still reward our most frequent fliers with added benefits. You can qualify for Frontier Elite by flying 20,000+ miles or 25+ segments in the calendar year.

After creating the rewards account with Frontier, I went back to Orbitz to add in my new Frontier frequent flyer program number into the ticket reservation, and then hit “Book.” Then, I went back to the Frontier website in order to try to find some seats (you couldn’t choose the seats through Orbitz for this fare). This is an example for how Frontier prices seatse on my return flight back to DEN.

Frontier Seatmap

Frontier Seatmap

My reservation instantly synced, but unfortunately the type of fare I purchased (basically Economy with a personal item) did not allowed any pre-flight seat reservations – they would get assigned to me upon check-in. The other thing I noticed was that Frontier charges you for everything, and I mean everything (that’s why the prices are so low). If you want to check a bag, that’s and extra $15 (which is now standard in the industry). If you want to carry-on a bag, that’s an extra $20 too. That was a new one for me. If you’re not a Frontier’s DiscountDen member (you automatically join with the loyalty program), you can get cheaper checked and carry-on bag prices (but only if you pay for them prior to checking-in).

Because of the extra ancillary costs (which I wasn’t exactly clued in on at time of booking), I decided to bring neither a suitcase nor a carry-on – just a backpack. This was fine since I was staying with family and already had clothes and shoes at the house.

Check-In/Boarding Process for Frontier 405

The day before my flight with Frontier 405, I was able to check-in online through the Frontier website. I still wasn’t able to select my own seats – but seat 23E got assigned to me (I correctly assumed it was middle seat in the back of the plane). I printed it out because I wasn’t sure if Frontier had the option to email it to me or to display it in a mobile app or web app.

Frontier 405 Ticket

Frontier 405 Ticket

At the Denver airport, I decided to use The Parking Spot instead of parking in the Economy lots on site. This was a wise decision – and got be to the airport much faster than had I parked and waited for the airport parking lot shuttle (not to mention it was cheaper – $6 a day!).

Upon arrival to DEN to catch Frontier 405, since I already had my printed out boarding pass, all I had to do was go straight to security. So, I took the extra time that I had to walk around and take pictures for the tripchi mobile app.

DEN Airport

DEN Airport

 I also made sure to check the FIBS board to see whether my flight was on time.

DEN Flight Board

DEN Flight Board

I also realized that Frontier didn’t have an agreement with TSA Pre-Check, so I would have to go through the regular security lines for my Frontier 405 flight. I had grown so used to not taking out my laptop or not taking my shoes off that I wasn’t with the program this time around and actually held up the line. That’s what happens when you get spoiled. I also learned that, of the two security lines (North and South), the one on the South side of the Main Terminal at DEN was the shorter, so I hopped in. This is the line near the Mangelsen Art Gallery. Even without Pre-Check, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

Frontier 405 - Mangelsen Gallery at DEN

Frontier 405 – Mangelsen Gallery at DEN

After security, I still had to hop on the famous Denver Airport subway to get from the Main Terminal to Terminal A, where my Frontier 405 flight would be taking off from (Gate A36).

DEN Subway

DEN Subway

This only took a few minutes, and when I got to Terminal A, I found myself with 15 minutes to kill so I walked around, took some more pictures, and entered into a contest for an off-roading vehicle that was on display.

Off-roading Vehicle Giveaway in Terminal A

Off-roading Vehicle Giveaway in Terminal A

As I made it to Gate A36, boarding had already started with pre-boarding and Group 1, and they had just called Group 2, which was me. I guess I checked-in early enough online such that I was able to get a pretty good boarding group – but it didn’t really matter anyways since I didn’t have any carry-ons.

Boarding Frontier 405

Boarding Frontier 405

I walked right up to the agent, handed her my ticket and then promptly proceeded to wait for a 15 minute in a long line leading up to the plane on the jet way. I also got to hear the gate agent yell at someone for trying to bring on a carry-on without paying for it, and asking them to pay for it at the Gate if they wanted to take it on the plane.

Frontier 405 Interior

Frontier 405 Interior

After an excessively long boarding process (people were particularly incompetent finding their seats), I finally reach my seat in the back (two away from the bathroom) – 28E. As I approached and asked the person on the aisle to let me in, the man in the seat behind asked me if I would be willing to trade with him so that his family could site together – his seat was 18E. This was such a blessing, as the entire back of the plane was composed of families with screaming babies. I gladly obliged, turned around, and weaved my way back to 18E, also a middle seat – but in a quiet and odor free zone.

Flight Details for Frontier 405

  • Route: Denver to Los Angeles
  • Airline: Frontier 405 – Frontier’s IATA code is F9
  • Departure Gate: A36
  • Arrival Gate: 31B
  • Scheduled: 12:55 PM
  • Actual Flight time: 12:49 PM
  • Boarding time: 12:25 PM (estimate?)
  • Scheduled Arrival Time: 2:16 PM
  • Actual Arrival Time: 2:09 PM
  • Baggage Claim: Carousel A
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A319 Foxie the Red Fox, Tail Number N922FR
  • Flight length: 2h 04m
  • Distance traveled: 873 miles
  • Class: Economy
  • Seat: 18E (was supposed to have 23E)
  • Load factor: 95% full
  • Average Ticket Cost: $138.43 (I did very well since my entire round-trip was the same cost as the average one-way on Frontier 405)

Interior/takeoff for Frontier 405

The first thing I noted about the plane was that it wasn’t very clean. There were bits of paper and crumbs all over the place – on the seats and on the floor. Frontier 405 was an AirBus A319, which is a pretty small plane to begin with – so the fact that the plane was crowded wasn’t a surprise. The overhead bins were small too, so it was a good thing I didn’t have a carry-on either.

Frontier 405 Trash on Floor

Frontier 405 Trash on Floor

The good news was that the plane pushed back and took-off early, despite the general level of incompetence of the passengers (this is what you get when you fly a Low Cost Carrier (LCC) – you get inexperienced travelers who don’t know the drill).

I also was able to take this picture of the wing and winglet, where the Frontier mascot (a fox) appeared on. This particular fox is Foxie the Red Fox and I was able to tweet it out just as we were taking off to my Twitter followers to guess which airline has a Fox on its winglets and tail.

Frontier 405 Fox Winglet on Twitter

Frontier 405 Fox Winglet on Twitter

Here’s a closer look at Foxie the Fox.

Frontier Fox

Frontier Fox

Seat on Frontier 405

I heard prior to my Frontier 405 flight that Frontier was notorious for small seats. I saw why people say that. For me it was fine, since I’m 5’3” – but even I’m used to have a few more inches of space between my knees and the seat-back.

Frontier 405 Knee Space

Frontier 405 Knee Space

The leg-room was cramped and tiny, but felt about the same width-wise. It also helped that neither of my seat mates had fat spilling over the seat and armrest into me.

Other than that, my seat (18E) was fully functional, and could recline all the way (which I promptly did 10 minutes into the flight).

In-flight Wi-Fi/Entertainment on Frontier 405

The seat-back entertainment offering was an array of television programming, which was free for the first 10 minutes and then when in to a pay-per-view mode ($5). You could still hear the audio and could see a little bit of the program despite the pay-per-view prompt popup. My seatmate (18A) opted to buy it – I opted for sleep instead.

Frontier 405 Entertainment

Frontier 405 Entertainment

However, there unfortunately was no in-flight Wi-Fi to keep my occupied. But that makes sense considering this is not an airline for Business Travelers, who demand in-flight Wi-Fi. Frontier is for the casual and cost-sensitive travel who can live without Wi-Fi.

The entertainment control unit was kind of confusing. I anticipated it being on my right armrest (in the middle seat) but it turns out that it was on the left-side armrest of each seat. I inadvertently changed my neighbor’s channel a few times before realizing I was on the wrong armrest.

Frontier 405 Armrest Unit

Frontier 405 Armrest Unit

I also want to explain a #planehack for you to get better sleep on the plane. You know how the entertainment system that is 4 inches from your face, and really bright and annoying when you’re trying to rest? Did you know you can turn it off? You can. All you have to do is keep pushing the “Minus” sign on the Brightness potion of the armrest control panel and it will eventually turn off!

Turn Off the Entertainment System

Turn Off the Entertainment System

Drink/Meal Service for Frontier 405

Drink and meal service was shocking. You had to pay even for non-alcoholic drinks (water was still free, however). I had never been on an airline that only offered water and made you pay even for soda. I didn’t actually mind it, if it can keep my ticket price down – but I was still shocked nonetheless. Frontier seemed to have some decent buy-on-board meal and snack options, but I didn’t partake.

Frontier In-Flight Menu

Frontier In-Flight Menu

I did put my tray-table down to do a little laptop work before I passed out, but could barely even type. The tray-table was in an awkward position that was too high above my lap, and I ran in to the age old problem of not having enough room for my laptop screen (where was my knee defender when I needed it!). On a side note, I’m glad that knee-defenders are banned – I think it’s a passenger’s right to be able to prop back the seat. If it’s enabled by the airline it should be free to use.

Frontier 405 Laptop Space

Frontier 405 Laptop Space

In the end, I ordered water (which wasn’t even served with ice) and nothing else. Since I slept for most of the flight, I didn’t even get up to use the facilities (so I can’t rate them).

Landing of Frontier 405

I woke up about 15 minutes prior to landing, as the Pilot came on the PA announcing our descent. It was a smooth landing in LA, right on time. We taxied to our gate, which was open for us – Gate 31B. Again, because of the incompetency of the flyers on this particular flight, it took longer than normal to disembark the plane, and the jet way was clogged with people trying to figure out what to do next. While I was trapped, I was able to get this picture of our plane – Frontier 405.

Frontier 405 Aircraft

Frontier 405 Aircraft

Overall Grade for Frontier 405

I give the flight, overall, a B. On Frontier, like an Low Cost Carrier, you get what you paid for. The price I paid was very low – therefore, I had low expectations for service. I got more or less than what I paid for, for this particular Frontier 405 flight, and was satisfied. I would have been less satisfied if I had needed to bring a bag.

About

Chandra is passionate about travel and technology....

5 comments

  1. So, maybe this is obvious but the saying “you get what you pay for” even applies to airlines. Don’t expect to get great services, lots of frills, and free bags and what not when you pay under $100 for a flight. That said, there are some tips and tricks you can employ to make the most of your Frontier flight.

  2. […] just flown from DEN to LAX on Frontier a few weeks ago, I decided to take my next flight back home on United 1241 to write a comparison […]

  3. […] route a fly often (since I fly to LAX and BUR at least 3 times a year – check out my Spirit, Frontier, and United reviews if you don’t believe […]

  4. Mike Mathguy says:

    Very nice. I have a flight on Frontier coming up and wanted to gen an impression of what to expect. Thanks.

    QUESTION: I have is if I sit in an exit row with extra legroom (viz. row 13 on Airbus 320), is there a seat in front of me where I can put my personal item (small backpack)?

    QUESTION: for boarding, are there any options for early boarding – e.g. the Frontier mastercard or paying extra?

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