Save Money Buying Frontier Tickets At The Airport

Save Money Buying Frontier Tickets At The Airport

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Nowadays a vast majority of airline passengers buy their tickets online, given the practice of electronic ticketing. However, some ultra low cost carriers give you an incentive to book tickets at the airport.

I’ve written about this practice at Allegiant Air, Breeze Airways, and Spirit Airlines, and in this post wanted to look at how you can save money by buying your Frontier Airlines tickets at the airport.

Long story short, you can save $23 per person per segment by booking your Frontier Airlines ticket at the airport, though there might be a catch or two.

How to avoid Frontier’s “carrier interface charge”

Frontier Airlines is one of the largest ultra low cost carriers in the United States. As is standard for ultra low cost carriers, the business model is to have incredibly low base fares, and then charge extra for just about everything.

When you look at Frontier Airlines base fares, you’ll see that each fare includes a $23 per person per segment “carrier interface charge.” Here’s how Frontier Airlines describes that on its website:

Carrier Interface Charge: the standard fare price we display online includes a charge per passenger, per segment, that is assessed on tickets purchased through the website or our call center. The Discount Den fares we display online include a charge per passenger, per segment, that is assessed on tickets purchased through the website.

You won’t even notice this charge unless you’re really looking for it. For example, take the below $95 fare from Tampa to Burbank via Las Vegas.

Frontier Airlines fare

When you get to the final booking page that shows the breakdown of the fare, you’ll see how that $95 fare breaks down. You’ll see that the single biggest part of the fare is the $46 carrier interface charge ($23 per segment).

Frontier Airlines “Carrier Interface Charge”

If you book your ticket through Frontier Airlines’ website or call center, you’re on the hook for paying that fee. However, there’s a way to avoid it — if you instead book at any Frontier Airlines ticket counter, you won’t have to pay the “carrier interface charge.”

While other ultra low cost carriers very clearly spell out ticket counter hours and procedures for ticketing, Frontier Airlines doesn’t. That’s not to say that you can’t ticket reservations at airports, though.

While it might not be worth making a special trip to the airport for a one-way ticket for one person to save $23, if you’re traveling as a larger group, booking multiple tickets, etc., the savings could add up.

Save money by ticketing at a Frontier counter

There are two catches, though

There are two major considerations to be aware of if you’re choosing to ticket a Frontier Airlines reservation at the airport. First of all, the employees at Frontier Airlines ticket counters are almost entirely outsourced staff, and often aren’t very knowledgable.

You’re absolutely supposed to be able to ticket reservations at airports, and many people report luck with that. However, others say they’re told at the counters that they can’t ticket the reservations. Given that Frontier’s website isn’t very explicit, that does make it tricky, even though this is 100% supposed to be possible.

Now let’s talk about the major downside of ticketing at the airport, if you’re able to do so. Since Frontier Airlines is an ultra low cost carrier, the airline charges for almost everything, ranging from seat assignments, to carry-on bags, to checked bags. Generally speaking, the airline charges the least when you purchase extras during the initial booking process.

Frontier sells different “bundles” at the time that you book, and these aren’t available for the same price at a later point. These bundles are available exclusively online, creating a strong incentive to book online.

Frontier Airlines bundles

Generally it’s going to make the most sense to ticket at the airport if you don’t plan on buying lots of ancillaries. If you do plan on buying lots of add-ons, paying more for those after the fact might wipe out most or all of your savings.

Why are Frontier tickets cheaper at the airport?

Okay, you can save money by booking your Frontier Airlines tickets at the airport, but what’s the logic for this policy? It comes down to taxes.

Airlines have to pay a 7.5% federal excise tax on airfare, but not on optional fees. In order for something to be considered an optional fee, there has to be a way to avoid paying it. So Frontier doesn’t have to pay taxes on the “carrier interface charge” portion of the ticket cost because it’s technically a fee, rather than airfare, since you can avoid it.

Of course Frontier doesn’t want to make it easy or lucrative to avoid paying this fee, which is why the airline only lets you avoid this by booking at the airport, and then also charges you more in other fees for choosing to use this ticketing practice.

Virtually all ultra low cost carriers have similar made up charges that make up a big portion of the airfare, in order to reduce the taxes they have to pay on ticket costs. In this particular case, Frontier is saving 7.5% of $23 (per segment), which is ~$1.75. Those tax savings add up when you consider how many tickets Frontier sells. On a full A320 with 180 seats, that’s an extra $315 worth of “profit” per flight.

Frontier uses this to avoid paying taxes on the entire fare

Bottom line

Frontier Airlines charges a $23 per segment “carrier interface charge,” which applies if you’re ticketing online or by phone. This often makes up a majority of the base fare, and the logic is that Frontier doesn’t have to pay taxes on that portion of the fare, since it’s technically an optional fee.

The reason this fee is “optional” is because you can avoid it by ticketing at the airport. This is a practice that virtually all ultra low cost carriers use. While this could save you money, just keep in mind that not all Frontier agents are well trained in this, and you’ll also end up paying more for ancillaries if you don’t ticket online.

Have any OMAAT readers ever ticketed a Frontier Airlines reservation at the airport? If so, what was your experience like?

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  1. Chris Cummings Guest

    We just purchased two tickets to Orlando from Cincinnati through a frontier agent. She was super helpful and knowledgeable. We saved $68 total, but we fly to Orlando about 5x a year so that ends up being a a pretty big savings. We also go to the airport each time to buy and have never had a bad experience. That being said, they did make a mistake on our name or birthday 2 of the...

    We just purchased two tickets to Orlando from Cincinnati through a frontier agent. She was super helpful and knowledgeable. We saved $68 total, but we fly to Orlando about 5x a year so that ends up being a a pretty big savings. We also go to the airport each time to buy and have never had a bad experience. That being said, they did make a mistake on our name or birthday 2 of the 6 times we bought tickets. But, they also showed us the screen and asked us to review our information those two times so we caught it. The other times we ask them to verify our information.

  2. Tcc Guest

    So ive tried this a couple of times and have noticed:
    They make it very hard at the airport. They play dumb. They take their time. U dont get savers club discount. They dont look up your profile, and THEY INTENTIONALLY ISSUE THE TICKET WITH A TYPO IN YOUR NAME. This has happened every. Single. Time. 100%. I can bet this is their unwritten policy. very odd but not surprised, they want to make...

    So ive tried this a couple of times and have noticed:
    They make it very hard at the airport. They play dumb. They take their time. U dont get savers club discount. They dont look up your profile, and THEY INTENTIONALLY ISSUE THE TICKET WITH A TYPO IN YOUR NAME. This has happened every. Single. Time. 100%. I can bet this is their unwritten policy. very odd but not surprised, they want to make sure you regret it. If you do this at the airport, Make sure the name is correct and get them to fix it immediately when you catch it!

  3. Tiffany Guest

    Same thing for me. I’m in phx. I booked in June at the airport and avoided the added fee. Today I tried to do it and it was actually more expensive than online. Must have been a recent change.

  4. Ryan Guest

    I did this today at SFO, saving $46 off a return fare from not having to pay the CIC. The Frontier agent at SFO didn't impose the $25 agent fee, was knowledgeable and more than happy to help if even just to check the price, understood that the CIC was not charged, was impressed at the savings from not booking online, and was surprised (and as disappointed as I was) that Breeze's offering two terminals...

    I did this today at SFO, saving $46 off a return fare from not having to pay the CIC. The Frontier agent at SFO didn't impose the $25 agent fee, was knowledgeable and more than happy to help if even just to check the price, understood that the CIC was not charged, was impressed at the savings from not booking online, and was surprised (and as disappointed as I was) that Breeze's offering two terminals down (supposed 2-hour window every week, but not knowing how or not willing to book tickets at the counter, compared to Frontier's daily availability at SFO) was so much worse! Breeze would've gotten my business but Frontier came to the rescue for me in light of that.

    I noticed the agent also chose seats for me after the fact given they didn't ask me for my seat choices during the booking process, and I wasn't charged extra for them (I'll be charged to change them though), but sounds like YMMV.

  5. Jen Guest

    So I went to LGA here in NY at the counter to buy two tickets recently. Those ladies are miserable especially the older Hispanic woman. They explained to me that they were going to charge me an additional $25 per ticket AND include the CIC fee. The girl at the counter told me to just book it at home. I was perplexed because I was able to buy the tickets at the airport two months...

    So I went to LGA here in NY at the counter to buy two tickets recently. Those ladies are miserable especially the older Hispanic woman. They explained to me that they were going to charge me an additional $25 per ticket AND include the CIC fee. The girl at the counter told me to just book it at home. I was perplexed because I was able to buy the tickets at the airport two months prior with no issues. I'm guessing its by location now and whether or not they feel like booking a flight for you. That $25 agent fee should be illegal for booking tickets!

  6. Susan halvorson Guest

    What about the $25 agent fee at the airport ? Can you just pay that fee one time per visit and buy several tickets?

    1. jb Guest

      Good question. Let me know if you get an answer! or post your answer here!

    2. Jen Guest

      I tried to do that and the agent said I would have to pay the $25 TWICE for the two tickets I was trying to buy at LGA airport. Unbelievable. I proposed the same idea she got snarky and said "her supervisor to her so. And that the rules changed." I walked out and went to Delta at that point.

    3. Lisa Guest

      They are not allowed to charge the $25 agent fee but they will try every time. The fee is for assisting a luggage and checking bag and reservations. Ask for a supervisor. Or ask on Chat ahead of time. Then screen shot and bring with you. There should never be an Agent or CIC fee.

  7. Chad Guest

    Whitney: yes you will save on the CIC if you buy at the airport, but they won't honor the discount den price (even if you a member). Only the regular ticket price.

  8. Micki Guest

    These airport fees are absolutely insane, cost me almost $100 in fees. How do they get away with this? It should be illegal. Believe me if I could drive to where I want to go I would. Flying is definitely no fun anymore, all the crazies are on the planes, there are no cheap fares!!!

  9. Whitney Guest

    If you are a discount den member, can you still purchase tickets at the airport to save on that fee?

  10. Stephanie Guest

    I went to the airport intending to buy 2 flights (and save lots of $ like I have in the past) and they charged me a $25 EACH way for the first so I didn't buy the second. An $86 flight became $136. Anything specific to note when you file the DOT complaint? Frontier's website notes, "Airport Agent Assistance is available for purchase for our passengers who prefer assistance at the airport for things like...

    I went to the airport intending to buy 2 flights (and save lots of $ like I have in the past) and they charged me a $25 EACH way for the first so I didn't buy the second. An $86 flight became $136. Anything specific to note when you file the DOT complaint? Frontier's website notes, "Airport Agent Assistance is available for purchase for our passengers who prefer assistance at the airport for things like checking in and printing your boarding pass." I could understand them charging for the agents time but it took 5 minutes. That wouldn't have been worth a $100 surcharge.

    1. Ktk Guest

      Just bought at the counter and saved $92 across 2 tickets. The lady at the counter tried to discourage by saying you don’t save anything by buying there. (And wouldn’t allow any ticket sales until there was NO ONE else in line; had to wait for a half hour for the checkin walk-ups to die down.) Then when it went through and there was a significant discount, she was surprised and said she’d seen someone...

      Just bought at the counter and saved $92 across 2 tickets. The lady at the counter tried to discourage by saying you don’t save anything by buying there. (And wouldn’t allow any ticket sales until there was NO ONE else in line; had to wait for a half hour for the checkin walk-ups to die down.) Then when it went through and there was a significant discount, she was surprised and said she’d seen someone else be charged $200 more via the counter. I have no idea what their convoluted system is but it worked this time…..

  11. Dennis Guest

    Dont get discouraged by Lu's comment below. I tried this trick at SFO today and still works. It varies depending on agents at different locations. I read another post saying if you was charged the fee Lu described below, it is most likely the agent made a mistake and is charging you the agent check in fee. The OP in reddit argued with CS and got refund.

  12. Lu Guest

    Went to the counter at DFW to book and the guy said they have a $25 in person fee. The flight ends up being the same price as online. Doesn't seem like there's any way to save anymore.

    1. Sunny Guest

      $25 per passenger or for a single transaction?

    2. Dom Guest

      Can confirm, Frontier now charges $25 in person fee when you try to book at airports now...

    3. Grant Guest

      File a DOT complaint. They told me this a few months ago, filed a complaint, and senior Frontier person replied saying that the $25 Agent Assist Fee should indeed be optional. They refunded it. Shady practice though for sure

    4. Emily Guest

      Hey Grant,
      What is the DOT complaint? I have a refund form from an online chat rep. Is that the same thing? Also, in fine print at the bottom it says...
      A few things to know: All claims are subject to audit and may require you to provide additional documentation. Service fees may be deducted from the refund amount, where applicable. All refunds will be credited to the original form of payment.

      So...

      Hey Grant,
      What is the DOT complaint? I have a refund form from an online chat rep. Is that the same thing? Also, in fine print at the bottom it says...
      A few things to know: All claims are subject to audit and may require you to provide additional documentation. Service fees may be deducted from the refund amount, where applicable. All refunds will be credited to the original form of payment.

      So does this mean they will charge a fee to process a refund now?? They charged us the $25 agent assist fee also and the guy/rep in Frontier chat said they should have charged it for each person traveling... I am going to try to get it back. Also, there was still a carrier fee added on at the airport along with taxes which was more than triple our airfare price( and that was for 5 people in our family). I wasn't happy when we left the airport since it is almost an hour away.

    5. Dave Guest

      bought a roundtrip ticket at BUF in mid-December and the supervisor (I think) who did the transaction did not charge me an airport / agent fee.

  13. Lori Wood Guest

    I was able to do this very easily at the Philadelphia International Airport. A young guy waited on me and was quite surprised to see one way, Philadelphia to Orlando, $15. So my husband and I are flying round trip, Philly to Orlando, grand total with no seat selection: one checked bag $90 down, and $30 back (no bags) for $120 total. He told me to add my own frequent flyer number later, but I...

    I was able to do this very easily at the Philadelphia International Airport. A young guy waited on me and was quite surprised to see one way, Philadelphia to Orlando, $15. So my husband and I are flying round trip, Philly to Orlando, grand total with no seat selection: one checked bag $90 down, and $30 back (no bags) for $120 total. He told me to add my own frequent flyer number later, but I have been unable to do so. Known traveler number, yes. Frequent flyer number, no. I'm going to see if I can reach out to them on Facebook Messenger for help with that.

  14. Daf Guest

    I went to the airport to buy a ticket and somehow she couldn’t “find” the flight. And then she said that just because it’s online, doesn’t mean they can see it. Seriously makes no sense.

  15. Rose Guest

    I also just returned from the airport where I was charged an ‘airport fee’ per segment equivalent to the ‘online interface’ fee. Super illegal, they need to be taxed as this is no longer an avoidable charge. I hope a regulated cracks down on this.

  16. Jesus Guest

    Anyone knows if discount den fares are available at the airport? In my case it wouldn’t make sense to go to the airport if they’re not.

    1. GINA CHAPMAN Guest

      Want to know this as well. We are Elite, Discount Den members and just booked a flight at the airport counter which was about 1/2 price of what we would have paid online (even WITH Discount Den) however the reservation will not give us the usual perks of Discount Den, like a free carryon bag and free upgraded seat selection. If those perks are gone when booking at the ticket counter, it's not worth it.

    2. Oscar Guest

      Discount Den fares are not available at the airport, but you can add your Frontier Miles number online after buying the tickets and get your normal bag and seat perks if you're elite. Not sure about the Works if you're 100k though.

  17. Marc Guest

    I do this with Frontier and Spirit all the time. I live close to the airport by public transit. I never spend more than 10-15 minutes buying a ticket, as I time my arrival when there won't be many people in line.

    Just yesterday, I went to MIA to buy a ticket from Frontier. They tried charging me a $25 fee to book through an agent. This has never happened to me before and...

    I do this with Frontier and Spirit all the time. I live close to the airport by public transit. I never spend more than 10-15 minutes buying a ticket, as I time my arrival when there won't be many people in line.

    Just yesterday, I went to MIA to buy a ticket from Frontier. They tried charging me a $25 fee to book through an agent. This has never happened to me before and I just bought a ticket at MDW as recently as Saturday, with no agent fee.

    I have to wonder, does the crew at MIA keep that fee or what's their incentive to charge this when other airports aren't. Also is this legal? While technically I'm opting out of the online interface fee, if you replace it with a differently named fee, does that still count as a tax break work around?

    1. Lisa Guest

      Complain and escalate. You will get your fee back. Print those responses off along with the refund of fee to keep with your frontier papers.

  18. dan Guest

    after buying tkt at airport, think that options like a checked bag or carry on could be purchased online later for the same fee, correct? if not, how much extra...say for a checked bag? Thx

  19. Teena Guest

    This is for folks who have plenty of time on their hands! Have you been to an airport lately? Typically long lines everywhere! But thanks for the heads up

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Lisa Guest

Complain and escalate. You will get your fee back. Print those responses off along with the refund of fee to keep with your frontier papers.

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Lisa Guest

They are not allowed to charge the $25 agent fee but they will try every time. The fee is for assisting a luggage and checking bag and reservations. Ask for a supervisor. Or ask on Chat ahead of time. Then screen shot and bring with you. There should never be an Agent or CIC fee.

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Chris Cummings Guest

We just purchased two tickets to Orlando from Cincinnati through a frontier agent. She was super helpful and knowledgeable. We saved $68 total, but we fly to Orlando about 5x a year so that ends up being a a pretty big savings. We also go to the airport each time to buy and have never had a bad experience. That being said, they did make a mistake on our name or birthday 2 of the 6 times we bought tickets. But, they also showed us the screen and asked us to review our information those two times so we caught it. The other times we ask them to verify our information.

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