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?

Conversations (17)
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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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

  10. 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.

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 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.

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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.

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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 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.

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