Tip: Avoid Frontier Airlines bag fees.

UPDATE: [05/05/2015 @ 10:41 AM] Modified post with new pricing structure, updated images, updated text, and fixed links to point to Frontier’s updated policy.
UPDATE: [11/19/2015 @ 12:35 AM] Frontier is charging more for carry-on bags and checked-bags during now. It’s currently $30 to check and $35 to carry on each way.

Frontier has yet again changed their baggage fee policies and once again it’s for the worse. On May 01, 2015 there will be an across the board increase in the cost of checked and carry-on bags. This post covers avoiding and limiting these fees.

What is changing:

On May 01, 2015 the following fees marked with an asterisk “*” will increase.

Frontier Baggage Policy as of May 05, 2015.
Frontier Baggage Policy as of May 05, 2015.

Noteworthy fees are listed below:

  1. Gate Check FeeIncreases from $50 to $60 – Any bag brought to the departure gate that exceeds the carry-on dimensions of 24″ x 16″ x 10″ and any item larger than the personal item dimensions of 18″ x 14″ x 8″ that has not been paid for will incur this fee. You should definitely make sure your carry-on or personal item is within their dimensions. If you’re not within the dimensions, you have a good chance of sneaking by, but it only takes one gate agent on a mission to ruin your day. It’s not worth taking chances.
  2. 1st checked bag when purchased during web check-inIncreases from $20 to $25 – This is noteworthy because the 1st bag purchased on FlyFrontier.com did not increase in price. This means that if you plan on checking a bag; book on FlyFrontier.com instead of an OTA like Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz.
  3. Carry-on Bag Fee via Web Check-in or FlyFrontier.comNo Increase in price: $30 – It should be noted that Frontier charges MORE for carry-on bags than checked bags. If you’re going to bring just one bag with you, check it instead of bringing it on the plane.

Avoiding and limiting baggage fees:

  1. Pay for your bags on FlyFrontier.com – There seems to be a $5 discount applied when doing this at the moment. Which means your checked bag will only cost $30 each way. (Note: This price seems to fluctuate between $15 and $35 each way. Your price will vary.)
  2. Free Personal Item – All passengers are allowed one free personal item that will fit under the seat in front of you. It can be no larger than 14” tall, 8” wide, and 18” long (including handles, wheels, and straps). Think backpacks, purses, briefcases and computer bags.
  3. Checked bag fee is cheaper than carry-on fee – As stated earlier. If you’re only bringing one bag, you should check it.
  4. Checked bag fee is cheapest when you book from FlyFrontier.com – If you’re planning to check a bag, you’ll pay less on FlyFrontier.com than on most OTA’s like Expedia, or Priceline.
  5. Free carry-on bag for Frontier Elite – Members of Frontier’s frequent flyer program that have more than 20,000 miles or 35 segments flown are allowed a free carry-on bag along with their free personal item.
  6. Don’t pack large items in your Personal Item – If you’re needing to bring a large coat, you should wear it and stuff the coat pockets with smaller items such as socks. I’ve never had to do this, since I pack fairly lightly.
  7. Don’t pick an assigned seat on the airplane – You will be assigned a random seat when you arrive at the airport.

Bags I use or like:

[*These are Amazon affiliate links, I receive compensation if you use these links and then purchase something from Amazon.com]

  • Amazon.com: JanSport Right Pack – Originals – I’m currently using this bag as my personal item when I fly Frontier. Dimensions are: 18″ x 13″ x 8.5″. There is half-an-inch of extra depth, but it has never been a problem for me. The bag has a large main compartment, which makes it ideal for stuffing as much as you can into the limited amount of space. The price is cheaper if you get the black bag instead of a colorful one. Prices on Amazon range from $50 – $60. Note: When I originally wrote this post, this bag was being sold for $35.43. You may be able to get it for cheaper elsewhere, just be sure you’re buying it from a reputable source.
  • Amazon.com: JanSport City Scout Backpack – This is a similar backpack to what I’m using. I don’t own one, but the dimensions are listed as the same. The main difference seems to be that it’s currently priced a lot cheaper than the JanSport Right Pack: about $30 on Amazon.

Summary and commentary:

Frontier seems destined to join Spirit in the race to the bottom. That said, if you end up flying Frontier enough to make it to Elite you won’t have to pay for a carry-on bag fee. Since a lot of the ticket cost is now offset in their bag fees, the airline is definitely worth it if you can avoid those fees by either packing what you need in a personal item or getting the free bag perk from Elite status.

There have been numerous Frontier sales featured here in the past such as [Houston / Dallas / Austin to Denver $37* NONSTOP r/t] and [Houston to San Francisco *$29 – $77]. Even with the bag fees the prices are some of the lowest I’ve seen.

What are your methods of getting around carry-on bag fees like this one? Shoot me a message, I would love to hear from you.

If you found this article helpful, you may want to check out [Tip: Avoid Spirit Airline’s fees]. You can also check out the [Budget Travel Tips] category on this site for all of the other tips.