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Frontier Airlines: Program Overview (2019 Update)

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

Frontier loyalty program thumbnail

Every airline has its own strengths and weaknesses. Frontier Airlines is most well-known for offering ultra-cheap flights that many airlines can't match. Other airlines compete by providing better experiences and compelling loyalty programs. However, Frontier has recently revamped its loyalty program, making it even more competitive in the airline industry. In this guide, we explore Frontier Airlines and its loyalty program, showing you ways to save money and avoid extra costs.

Frontier Airlines ticketing options

There are three ticketing options available to Frontier passengers: basic, the WORKS℠ and the PERKS℠ . The basic ticket is the most bare-bones flight option, covering just the flight and one personal item you can bring aboard the cabin. You'll pay extra to bring a full-size carry-on suitcase, choose a seat or select other add-ons. The basic ticket is a great option if you are traveling light.

Frontier Airlines' Bundle packages

Frontier Airlines offers two bundle packages that consumers can purchase. The WORKS is Frontier's top-tier offering while the PERKS is a close second. All of the benefits of the PERKS bundle are encompassed by the WORKS.

frontier bundles comparison

The WORKS

The WORKS bundle offers the most savings to customers. If you take advantage of all its benefits, you'll get a 60% discount compared to purchasing each component separately. This bundle can only be purchased at the time of booking, with costs ranging from $49 to $69 each way based on a round-trip purchase.

The WORKS has two essential benefits that aren't available in the PERKS bundle: flight flexibility and 100% refundability. Flight flexibility allows individuals to change their flights without change fees, and refundability allows you to completely refund your booking without paying any cancellation fees. Change and refund requests must be made 24 hours prior to departure.

frontier bundles perks

The PERKS

The PERKS bundle is a slightly downgraded version of the WORKS. It includes a carry-on bag, checked bag, personal item, seat selection and priority boarding. It does not include flight flexibility or 100% refundability, which is why we consider the WORKS as the superior bundle. Using all of its perks gets you — according to Frontier — a 30% discount when compared to buying each separately. You can buy the PERKS bundle at any point, including on flights purchased through a third-party channel.

Frontier Airlines Seat selection

Seat selection is a feature included in both the PERKS and WORKS bundles, but it will cost extra for people who did not opt for these packages.

frontier seat selection

Frontier recommends you choose your seat at booking, as you'll have more options, pay less and keep your travel party together. If you don't select a seat, Frontier will randomly assign you an available seat at no charge.

Many Frontier travelers who select seats do so to get stretch seating, which is more comfortable but in limited supply. As a stretch seat occupant, you'll get extra legroom, full comfort recline, early access off the aircraft and a full 5 to 7 inches of additional space between your seat and the one in front of you.

Here's what you can expect to pay for seat selection without a bundle:

Purchase locationStandard seatingStretch seating
Best value (Flyfrontier.com, at booking and up to 24 hours prior)From $5From $16
Web check-inFrom $7From $18
Call centerFrom $16From $56
Airport ticket counter or kioskFrom $16From $56

As you can see, the price varies greatly for the same seats. For example, buying a stretch seat at the airport will cost $40 more than buying it during the booking process on the Frontier website. If you want to select your seats yourself, then you should do so at the time of booking for greatest savings.

MyFRONTIER℠ elite status

Frontier Airlines recently revamped its loyalty program and now offers three levels: Elite 20k, Elite 50k and Elite 100k. This program offers greater and more frequent benefits that users can share with their families.

frontier elite status perks

Elite 20k status

Elite 20k is the most accessible loyalty status. You'll need to either accumulate 20,000 qualifying miles or 25 flight segments within one calendar year. Elite 20k provides a suite of benefits that most individuals will be able to use and appreciate in their travel experiences.

Benefits are for members only and include:

  • Free carry-on bag: Bring a carry-on suitcase on Frontier flights with no fee.
  • Family pooling: You can combine Frontier Miles with up to eight individuals to earn rewards faster.
  • Seat assignment: Receive free advanced seat assignments on your flights.
  • Stretch seating: If available, you may upgrade to stretch seating at no extra cost during flight check-in, at the ticket counter or at the gate.
  • Priority boarding: Get priority boarding at participating airports.
  • Award fees waived: Award fees are waived when booking an award flight.
  • Travel fees waived: These include call center reservation fees, same-day confirmed fees and same-day standby fees.
  • Last seat award: Use miles to redeem last-seat-available award tickets. These can be used by any traveler on a member's booking.

Elite 50k status

Elite 50k is one tier higher than Elite 20k, and it includes all of the benefits available to Elite 20k members plus a few more. You can earn this status by accumulating 50,000 qualifying miles or 50 flight segments within one calendar year.

Here's what you can expect, in addition to the Elite 20k perks:

  • Family seating: Elite members and up to eight people on the member's booking get free advanced seat assignments, including stretch seating.
  • 1.25x mileage multiplier: Earn a 25% redeemable mileage bonus, excluding status qualifying miles, on all eligible Frontier flights.
  • 50% off Discount Den membership: Members enjoy 50% off Discount Den's annual fee.

Elite 100k Status

Elite 100k is the highest level of loyalty currently offered by Frontier. Members must accumulate 100,000 qualifying miles or 100 flight segments within one calendar year. You have access to all of the benefits included in Elite 20k and Elite 50k statuses as well as several additional benefits.

The following are additional benefits you can expect:

  • Family status and bundles: Elite members and up to eight people on the member's booking have family status and receive the WORKS bundle for free.
  • 1.5x mileage multiplier: Earn a 50% redeemable mileage bonus, excluding status-qualifying miles, on all eligible Frontier flights.
  • Free Discount Den membership: Members enjoy Discount Den at absolutely no charge.

The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®: Earn elite status without flying

Do earned miles ever expire? Yes, your earned miles can expire if there's no account activity for 180 days. Account activity is counted as earning miles through booking flights, using The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® or by using a partnered service with mileage incentives.

You're not limited to earning miles through flight bookings with The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®. Cardholders can earn 5 miles per dollar spent at flyfrontier.com, 3 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and 1 mile on all other purchases. However, the bonus categories won't earn you more miles toward qualifying for elite statuses. If you plan to use the card to reach even the lowest elite status, Elite 20k, you'll need to spend at least $20,000 on the card.

Additionally, most other co-branded credit cards at larger airlines offer substantially better benefits with more rewarding rewards portals. There are even travel credit cards without annual fees that we would recommend applying for over The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®.

The following are benefits associated with The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®:

frontier card benefits

The information related to the The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Redeem mileage for award flights

The process of redeeming mileage for award flights is straightforward through Frontier's website. Award flights start at 10,000 Frontier miles, which will get you a one-way domestic flight. You can access more options by exchanging more Frontier miles.

frontier award flight redemption

Redeeming mileage for award flights step-by-step:

  • Log in to myFRONTIER account before completing your booking.
  • Search by "Miles": This will show how many miles are needed for your desired trip.
  • Select your flight(s): You can continue the booking if you have enough FRONTIER miles for your chosen flight, but be aware of taxes and fees.
  • Complete booking: Enter your information to finish your booking, and remember to apply any loyalty benefits or discounts you have available.

Getting back expired miles

All earned miles expire if there's no account activity for 180 days. However, you may be able to pay a reinstatement fee to get any expired miles back. The fee varies depending on the number of miles that expired. Here's what you may expect to pay:

Number of expired milesFee
1–25,000$50
25,001–50,000$100
50,001–75,000$150
75,001–100,000$200
100,001–125,000$250
125,001–150,000$300
150,001–175,000$350
175,001–200,000$400
200,001–250,000$450
250,001+$500

Although it isn't unusual for miles to expire, the timeline is rather short. Most consumers aren't aware their earned miles expire in just six months of inactivity. Additionally, if someone doesn't have The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®, then their only means of account activity is to book flights or use one of Frontier's partnered services.

Frontier Redemption levels

There are three distinct award levels you can access by redeeming Frontier miles. These levels dictate how many miles you need to book certain flights, with busier travel times requiring more redemption miles.

  • Value award: Same benefits as standard fare with the most limited flight selection.
  • Standard award: Same benefits as standard fare, but with more available flight offers than value award.
  • Last seat award: Same benefits as standard fare, but you can book any flight with an available seat.
frontier redemption levels
Redemption fee details
  • 180+ days before travel: free
  • 21–179 days before travel: $15
  • 7–20 days before travel: $50
  • < 6 days before travel: $75

The table above identifies the number of redeemable mileage required to qualify for the listed award travel types at different redemption levels. It's important to note that the listed mileage is the minimum. There may be other flights within the travel types that require more mileage.

What's interesting, though, is the taxes and fees portion of the above table. Round-trip flights incur substantially more fees, often demanding more than double the amount of taxes and fees of the one-way options.

How to avoid redemption fees on Frontier

  • The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard®: Card holders have all redemption fees waived.
  • Elite status: If you qualify for elite status, your redemptions fees are waived.
  • Book early: If you book 180 days or more prior to the flight, then you won't pay redemption fees.
  • Travel companion: Up to eight people on a cardholder's reservation won't pay redemption fees.

Frontier award ticket cancellation

Frontier allows travelers to cancel their award tickets and receive their miles back for a $75 fee. Redeposit fees are nonrefundable, and tickets must be canceled before the flight departure to retain their value. This fee is waived for last-seat-award flights.

Frontier's Discount Den

Discount Den is Frontier's subscription-based service that provides exclusive access to Frontier's lowest available fares. Subscribers get alerts on deals throughout the year while earning more savings as they fly.

Here's what you can expect from Discount Den:

frontier discount den benefits

Discount Den has two key strengths: Subscribers will get the lowest available prices from Frontier and can share the discounts with up to six others on the same reservation. Finding a low rate through Discount Den and organizing a group trip seems to be the best way to maximize value through this program. However, the $59.99 annual fee is a bit of a turn-off, since Frontier offers some regular flights for the same amount. If you don't fly with Frontier often or use the Discount Den deals, then you may lose more money than you're saving

Frontier Partners

Frontier is partnered with several different services, from car rentals to hotel chains, that provide you with more ways to earn and use your mileage. As of June 13, 2019, these partnerships include:

frontier partners
  • Points
  • Radisson Hotel Group
  • Super Shuttle
  • Teleflora
  • Thanks Again
  • Thrifty
  • Vinesse Wines
  • Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

These partners provide ways to earn and use your mileage, with the majority offering bonus Frontier miles, higher mileage multipliers per dollar spent or discounted rates on the partnered service itself. For example, Avis car rental provides quadruple miles when renting for three or more days at participating airport locations and 35% off the base rate of Avis' car rentals. Frontier's partnerships can provide high value and are worth considering when planning out your travel accommodations.

Frontier Reviews

The same question is on everyone's mind when it comes to ultra-cheap airlines: How is the flight experience? Individuals who travel on Frontier are choosing to exchange quality for affordability, but how large is the trade-off when compared to other top airlines?

The Wall Street Journal publishes an annual ranking of eight major U.S. airlines, tracking performance across flight delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage and formal complaints. This system allows for comparisons between Frontier and other airlines to see how the competition stacks up.

Airline comparisons vary greatly from one source to another. But, you should still be wary given that the Wall Street Journal's 2018 annual rankings claimed Frontier to be last in on-time arrivals, extreme delays, mishandled baggage and involuntary bumping. The only saving grace for Frontier was being ranked third-best in 2-hour tarmac delays. Prior to booking, you should ask yourself whether you're willing to deal with these issues in exchange for the relatively lower fare.

Frequently asked questions about Frontier Airlines

Frontier is one of the safest airlines you can fly. It has never had a fatal plane crash in the history of the airline. It's also consistently rated highly for safety, so you should fly comfortably knowing that you're in safe hands.

Frontier allows everyone to bring one personal item onto the flight at no charge, but they do charge an additional fee if you would like to bring a full-sized carry-on or other additional baggage. You can pay for carry-on baggage through flyfrontier.com or during online check-in.

If your flight is canceled, whether due to controllable or uncontrollable situations, Frontier will work to get you on the next available Frontier flight to your destination at no extra charge. You may also request a full refund of any unused portion of the ticket by filling out an online refund request form available on flyfrontier.com.

Some airlines have blackout dates, in which they restrict discounts and other promotions during certain busy times. Typically, these include major holidays. Frontier does not have blackout dates. You will be able to redeem your mileage for flights on any date without restriction, but busier times may require more mileage.

Final thoughts on Frontier

Frontier Airlines provides a service revolving around its mission statement: "Low fares done right." It provides some of the lowest available flight fares among the United States' most popular commercial airlines. Frontier provides a variety of ways for passengers to gain even more savings and value from using the airline, including bundle packages and family point pools. However, the loyalty program does leave a lot to be desired, given the level of spending required to qualify. While there may be other ways to qualify, such as by using a co-branded credit card, the process still requires you to rack up heaps of points in exchange for meager benefits compared to other airlines' programs. Frontier is great if you're looking for an ultra-low-cost flight, but that doesn't leave much room for additional savings.

Comments and Questions

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).