3 Reasons I Prefer Spirit Airlines To Frontier Airlines

3 Reasons I Prefer Spirit Airlines To Frontier Airlines

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Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines are two of the biggest ultra low cost carriers (ULCCs) in the United States, and if the two companies have their way, they’ll be merging soon.

There are a lot of similarities between the business models of the two airlines. However, having recently flown Frontier Airlines for the first time, I can’t help but share that I don’t think the two airlines are created equal. I far prefer Spirit Airlines for three main reasons, which I figured I’d share below.

Spirit Airlines has the Big Front Seat

While both Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have incredibly tight cabins with seat pitch of 28″, both airlines have premium seating options. However, the two options are quite different.

Spirit Airlines has the Big Front Seat, which consists of first class style seats at the front of the cabin. You don’t get the service you’d typically get in first class, but rather you just get some extra comfort. But these seats are legitimately very comfortable, and are only in a 2-2 configuration, so there are no middle seats.

Spirit Airlines A320neo cabin

Frontier Airlines, on the other hand, has a few rows of Stretch seating at the front of the cabin, featuring up to 6″ of extra legroom. These seats are still in a 3-3 configuration. So while the seats have plenty of legroom, they’re not any wider than your typical economy seats.

Frontier Airlines A320neo cabin

Now, you might be thinking “well that’s great, but I assume the Big Front Seat is more expensive than Stretch seating.” Nope, that’s not my experience. For example, take the Denver to Las Vegas route, which both airlines fly.

Spirit Airlines charges $59 to select a Big Front Seat.

Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat pricing

Meanwhile Frontier Airlines charges $77 for Stretch seating.

Frontier Airlines Stretch Seating seating pricing

That’s right, Frontier charges more for its extra legroom economy seating than Spirit charges for its first class style seating. I find that to pretty consistently be the case.

Spirit Airlines has Wi-Fi

Ultra low cost carriers are known for typically having limited inflight entertainment, as that’s part of keeping costs low. However, Spirit Airlines has recognized that inflight Wi-Fi is the way of the future. The airline started installing Wi-Fi in mid-2019, and at this point a majority of the carrier’s fleet features Wi-Fi. Meanwhile Frontier Airlines has no inflight entertainment.

A Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat with Wi-Fi offers a vastly different experience than a Frontier Airlines Stretch seat without Wi-Fi, if you ask me, especially on a longer route.

A majority of Spirit’s fleet has Wi-Fi

Spirit Airlines is less patronizing

I can totally appreciate that ULCCs limit legroom and have an a la carte pricing model, because that’s how they make money. However, personally I find Frontier’s marketing to largely be obnoxious and off-putting.

Frontier claims that virtually all negative change are about helping the environment. 28″ of seat pitch? You’re flying American’s greenest airline! The checked bag weight limit being lowered from 50 pounds to 40 pounds (with the option to pay nearly double as much to add 10 pounds)? That’s about keeping carbon emissions low!

Maybe this strategy works with some consumers, but personally I’d prefer an airline doesn’t think I’m that stupid. I’m sure Frontier paid a lot of money on brand consulting to fool consumers, but it doesn’t resonate with all of us.

In that sense I appreciate where Spirit Airlines comes from. The carrier’s slogan is “we live for more go,” and the idea behind that is “making it possible for more people to travel to more places, more often.” Not every airport sign is about how the carrier’s unpleasant policies are good for the environment.

Frontier Airlines makes everything about the environment

Bottom line

Ultra low cost carriers are great for competition, as they lead to lower fares. That being said, not all ULCCs are created equal. With Frontier looking to merge with Spirit, I just wanted to note that if this does happen, I hope that elements of the Spirit experience stick around. In particular, Spirit offering the Big Front Seat and Wi-Fi are two things that really set the airline apart from Frontier.

Where do you stand — do you have a preference between Frontier and Spirit?

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  1. Alex Guest

    More pros for Spirit: they are more consistent with their schedules, frequencies, and routes. Frontier will drop routes so quickly, or will run a seemingly successful seasonal route only to not bring it back. Spirit more often has daily frequency (as opposed to Frontier's preference of less than daily, with some exceptions) and even multiple flights per day on busier routes. On top of that, Spirit likes the larger airports/cities and helps bring down fares...

    More pros for Spirit: they are more consistent with their schedules, frequencies, and routes. Frontier will drop routes so quickly, or will run a seemingly successful seasonal route only to not bring it back. Spirit more often has daily frequency (as opposed to Frontier's preference of less than daily, with some exceptions) and even multiple flights per day on busier routes. On top of that, Spirit likes the larger airports/cities and helps bring down fares across the board whereas Frontier likes the smaller airports and under served routes.

    A side note, I agree Spirit is less patronizing, although Frontier's marketing doesn't bother me one bit. In do appreciate that Spirit FA's almost seem to be encouraged to make fun of the airline's nickel and dime model.

  2. Michelle Goldstein Guest

    I really like Spirit and if they are bought out I hope that the super flight attendants at Spirit and the Gold status stay with them. I just don't someone coming in and ruining a great airline!!

  3. Danielle Francis Guest

    I like Spirt much better my small rolling suitcase is allowed for free and I had to pay over $75 for a bag with frontier.

  4. Roudy Muzeau Guest

    I'm lost my suitcase I can't believe that stay away from frontier airlines guys I'm going to Dominican republic to see my wife frontier airlines make me pay 336$ for my suitcase I got five days in Dominican republic I never received my suitcase,

  5. Pat Guest

    Since Frontier 's hub is in Denver, it seems like I can't make a direct flight from Orlando to Milwaukee without a 16 or 19 hour flight that must go into Denver! YUCK! Quite disappointing! Couldn't get to family activities within a limited time frame as I'd spent close to two days flying back & forth and not with my family!

  6. Nancy cruz Guest

    I have traveled in both but hands down I go with spirit which I travel often staff is awesome and friendly. Going on a trip with the grandkids real soon hope it goes well !

  7. 0504Traveller Guest

    I agree with you in preferring Spirit over Frotiner. I have flown both Frontier and Spirit, mostly Spirit but recently flew Frontier again after a break (see full experience on my blog - 0504Traveller.blogspot.com). Even though both are ULCC's, Spirit was the overall better airline. They seemed to have adopted the ULCC model better and were better executers of it; Frontier seemed to have adopted the model but we having difficulty or confusion in the...

    I agree with you in preferring Spirit over Frotiner. I have flown both Frontier and Spirit, mostly Spirit but recently flew Frontier again after a break (see full experience on my blog - 0504Traveller.blogspot.com). Even though both are ULCC's, Spirit was the overall better airline. They seemed to have adopted the ULCC model better and were better executers of it; Frontier seemed to have adopted the model but we having difficulty or confusion in the implementation. Frontier, I think, is where Spirit was a couple of years ago before they focused on their brand and product

  8. Andrew Guest

    Three reasons I prefer syphilis to gonorrhea.

  9. Mike Guest

    My nod goes to Frontier. For me they have a better "on time" history, only 1 delay forever, and 0 cancellations. Spirit, on the other hand, multiple latest, multiple cancellations, and less courteous customer service. Frontier planes are always cleaner, too.

    This comparison doesn't make sense to me anyway, as the upgrades the author is looking for aren't the reason we utilize these two airlines (as well as Allegiant). They are there simply to provide...

    My nod goes to Frontier. For me they have a better "on time" history, only 1 delay forever, and 0 cancellations. Spirit, on the other hand, multiple latest, multiple cancellations, and less courteous customer service. Frontier planes are always cleaner, too.

    This comparison doesn't make sense to me anyway, as the upgrades the author is looking for aren't the reason we utilize these two airlines (as well as Allegiant). They are there simply to provide the cheapest transportation available. Typically the only time I use these carriers it's utilitarian and comfort, luxury and baggage aren't the issue, just the cheapest.

  10. Armond Guest

    I usually will book a full service airline if i have to check a bag. Booked far enough in advance the price is close enough to get full service like entertainment, snack and seat that reclines. If short stay i fly spirit usually can’t beat the price

  11. Yea sir Guest

    Nobody mentioned that frontier offers free water! Try to take pills on spirit! Or stop coughing! Or clear your throat!

    It’s inhumane! Spirit sucks and it’s just plain mean.

    1. Glenn P. Sowders Guest

      Spirit is for me as long as I can fly non stop to AC international airport

  12. iamhere Guest

    Let's face the facts - these ultra low cost airlines really are not cheap. Often times they are no cheaper than legacy carriers.

    1. Bill Guest

      That’s only true if you’re ignorant as to “how” to fly a ULCC. With ULCCs you need to plan well, if you’re going to check a bag, do it in advance, be aware that if you bring a carryon, you’ll pay a lot if you purchase it at the gate. Finally, do you really need that drink and snack? If ULCCs didn’t exist, legacy carriers cheapest options would be MUCH higher….they are attempting to complete, but losing money in the process.

  13. Steve Guest

    Live in DEN & fly Frontier almost exclusively. I have almost no complaints. Longest delay I’ve ever had was maybe 30 minutes. Don’t understand the hatred everyone has. Maybe I’m just the luckiest air traveler in Denver.

    Tried flying spirit once purely because of price…. Showed up to the airport & flight was canceled. I was rebooked for the following day, completely re-routed, and would arrive home 48 hours late. Biggest problem? The flight...

    Live in DEN & fly Frontier almost exclusively. I have almost no complaints. Longest delay I’ve ever had was maybe 30 minutes. Don’t understand the hatred everyone has. Maybe I’m just the luckiest air traveler in Denver.

    Tried flying spirit once purely because of price…. Showed up to the airport & flight was canceled. I was rebooked for the following day, completely re-routed, and would arrive home 48 hours late. Biggest problem? The flight wasn’t actually canceled - just delayed 3 hours. Didn’t know that until the next day. Don’t know why they did me wrong like that. Luckily, Spirit gave me a refund & I bought a last minute ticket on Frontier.

  14. Randy W Guest

    Reason 4- you love airports, so much in fact you like camping out in them all day due to Spirit's flight delays

    I think I'd rather fly by being shot out of a giant slingshot, it's likely a safer experience. If you get a window seat on the wing, you can smell the bubble gum keeping the wings on.

  15. Robert Guest

    So hilarious, you comparing these two airlines is like comparing hives to a rash

  16. Tim Guest

    Agree 100% with you. While I tend to fly American, Spirits big front seats are often half the price. Had good experiences with them too overall.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Cant beat Spirit front seats. They are more comfortable than AA's new first class seats. Who cares about no water or drinks, who isnt capable of buying a water or even better yet bring an empty bottle to fill up at the airport, i dont think there is a single airport in the USA without a water bottle filling station.

  17. Ron from FL Guest

    Your not completely correct. Especially for those that have Gold (Spirit) or Elite (Frontier) status. I can't use my status or points to get the big seat. I can for stretch seating.

    Wifi is not available on all flights for spirit.

    You are correct about the marketing. Get me from a to b. Don't care about the carbon

    1. Ron from FL Guest

      And the priced for premium seating on both fluctuate

    2. Cbchicago Guest

      Also if you are 100k elite on Frontier everyone get free stretch seats and bags on your record. For Spirit the Gold benefits only apply to the elite member.

  18. Mac holloway Guest

    I will never fly with frontier again because I booked a round trip to Dominican Republic and on my return flight no person from frontier showed up at the airport. We were forced to buy tickets again which cost more than the original flight.

    1. Roudy Muzeau Guest

      Stay away from frontier airlines stolen my suitcase in Dominican republic I can't believe

  19. David L Guest

    I prefer Frontier for 3 reasons, though they only really apply to people to earn frontier status or were gifted it via the match last year (I got 100k).

    1. Miles (incl status miles) are based on distance flown, regardless of ticket price. That means I've already requalified for 20k organically via a few $15-75 flights (impossible on Spirit), and may push for 50k at the end of the year in hopes of them offering...

    I prefer Frontier for 3 reasons, though they only really apply to people to earn frontier status or were gifted it via the match last year (I got 100k).

    1. Miles (incl status miles) are based on distance flown, regardless of ticket price. That means I've already requalified for 20k organically via a few $15-75 flights (impossible on Spirit), and may push for 50k at the end of the year in hopes of them offering a buy-up to 100k (which they've been known to do in the past).

    2. Award availability is plentiful, priced at 10k for domestic flights (status waives the fees, and being able to pool with 8 people generates a ton of award miles very quickly).

    3. At 100k, the benefits are unbelievable for family travel - I'm talking everyone in stretch seating with a carry-on and a checked bag on fully refundable $25pp tickets.

    Neither Spirit or Frontier are for everyone (goes without saying), but I think frontier is much better from a frequent ulcc flyer perspective (we do exist! :P).

  20. Dennis Stauffer Guest

    It breaks my heart that Spirit is selling out! I been flying as a Missionary with Spirit for 12 years. A great budget get a seat and fly airline. I been under the assumption they were growing and become a real great airline. Now they are either Bluejet or frontier. This sucks

  21. NR Guest

    I very much prefer spirit for the reasons listed in this article. They are also very reliable - and for the most part always on time or a little early unless things truly go very wrong. Frontier, on the other hand, unless one is flying to/from Denver (or Orlando), is extremely unreliable. I've been stuck last couple times I booked them, and their response was dismal. 12-14 hr delays or longer are very common. And...

    I very much prefer spirit for the reasons listed in this article. They are also very reliable - and for the most part always on time or a little early unless things truly go very wrong. Frontier, on the other hand, unless one is flying to/from Denver (or Orlando), is extremely unreliable. I've been stuck last couple times I booked them, and their response was dismal. 12-14 hr delays or longer are very common. And good luck trying to get refund. It's more like they reluctantly offer these travel vouchers which need to be redeemed within 60-90 days. Just terrible. Oh. And also flight attendants supposed to be tipped for any on board purchases. That was very tacky. I very much prefer spirit merges with jet blue.

  22. stogieguy7 Diamond

    What's next; "3 Reasons Why I Prefer Chicken Pox to the Measles"?

  23. XPL Diamond

    I'm very much with Ben on no thank you to patronizing messaging. I would not be bothered by "we do it this way to keep our costs down". On the other hand when a company spins every cost cutting measure as virtue signalling, that tells me I can't trust them to clearly communicate. That's not something I want from anyone I do business with, much less with whom I entrust my life to.

  24. Derek Guest

    +1 for the patronizing / self-awareness. I haven't flown Spirit or Frontier, but I am consistently impressed by Ryan Air. Ryan Air may be low-frills, but as a ULCC, they're the gold standard for on-time, unique routes, and managed expectations. I love Ryan Air's Twitter presence because they don't pretend to be something they're not, unlike Frontier here, or god forbid, American.

  25. Frank Guest

    OMG I read the article as '3 Reasons why I Prefer Spirit to American Airlines" and I was like, yes, finally, I agree!

  26. Edward Tilton Guest

    When they merger there will be prices in place for both carriers that should be of equal in price,is what I am told. Correct me if I am wrong please?

  27. AlanD Guest

    I do love NK’s big front seat and the pricing! The only annoying thing about the big front seat is the lack of recline. F9’s stretch seats do recline generously (lever under seat). I also like that F9 gives free stretch access at checkin with even base status. NK only gives free access to exit row seats that are the same lower quality hard material as other seats.

    A huge differentiator for me is...

    I do love NK’s big front seat and the pricing! The only annoying thing about the big front seat is the lack of recline. F9’s stretch seats do recline generously (lever under seat). I also like that F9 gives free stretch access at checkin with even base status. NK only gives free access to exit row seats that are the same lower quality hard material as other seats.

    A huge differentiator for me is the FAs. While I’ve had a mixed bag of FAs on F9 over the past few years, the NK crews I’ve had in the last 3-4 years have been remarkably friendly and competent. They honestly fall only behind AS, B6, and WN for me.

  28. Juno Guest

    Hoping Spirit joins JetBlue. I've flown all 3. Spirit just picked up so many new routes into South America it would be a shame to fumble that over to Frontier. From worse to best- Frontier, Spirit, JetBlue. I'd rather pay more, at the end of the day flying is still a luxury. Luxury means not for all.

  29. Julia Guest

    Is there any way to remove that "Trending" box on the right side of the screen? It's annoying and covers up content.

    1. John Guest

      @Julia

      Winning comment of the day goes to you. xoxo.
      For saying what everyone here is thinking about that bloody annoying 'feature'.

    2. GLCTraveler Member

      Yes, there is.............. And it's pretty easy as follows:

      1. Move cursor to the Big X at the upper right of trending box.
      2. Left click the "X".
      3. In 0.6 seconds, WaLa it's gone!!

      It's Ben's site, his choice, and yours to read or not to read OMAAT!! Geeze, we as a public, in general, are soooooooo lazy these days. It's like we all want air-drying bidets for everything we do in our days!! :-o

  30. Rav Guest

    Still, when comparing the merger Frontier is a closer match. Despite the small differences. Jetblue is so far apart in almost everything. Their business model is the biggest difference. I'm sure if Jetblue & Spirit merge it will be difficult for staff to go from low cost low expectations to full service. The cabins of both Jetblue & Spirit are vastly different. What a challenging merger. I'm sure that Spirit will merge with Jetblue. Now...

    Still, when comparing the merger Frontier is a closer match. Despite the small differences. Jetblue is so far apart in almost everything. Their business model is the biggest difference. I'm sure if Jetblue & Spirit merge it will be difficult for staff to go from low cost low expectations to full service. The cabins of both Jetblue & Spirit are vastly different. What a challenging merger. I'm sure that Spirit will merge with Jetblue. Now watch service fall like a brick.

  31. Marcus Guest

    Personally I LOVE Spirit. I fly first or business class if I’m going to Europe, but I also like to go on Central and South American adventures with nothing but a carry on personal sized backpack and I think Spirit is all part of the fun. I book a cheap random seat, and buy myself and my temporary row-friends booze for the whole flight, and have a great time. I’ve never had many delays on...

    Personally I LOVE Spirit. I fly first or business class if I’m going to Europe, but I also like to go on Central and South American adventures with nothing but a carry on personal sized backpack and I think Spirit is all part of the fun. I book a cheap random seat, and buy myself and my temporary row-friends booze for the whole flight, and have a great time. I’ve never had many delays on Spirit even in the sketchiest of international airports, and never had a cancellation. I’ve flown Frontier once to Vegas and back from Tampa. The outbound was late and the return was delayed 6 hours until about 4am, then cancelled, rebooked, delayed, cancelled, and rebooked and we got home about 24 hours late.

    1. Alicia Guest

      My experience too! I took my first Spirit flight to Mexico when they just started the route, we were delayed 4 hours, got 2 vouchers for $200 as compensation. Which I took another trip and only paid $15 for. Frontier refused to fly out after a storm while other planes were leaving mid-storm, we were cancelled, rescheduled and then delayed again for almost 24 hours as well. I have to say both carriers I've never...

      My experience too! I took my first Spirit flight to Mexico when they just started the route, we were delayed 4 hours, got 2 vouchers for $200 as compensation. Which I took another trip and only paid $15 for. Frontier refused to fly out after a storm while other planes were leaving mid-storm, we were cancelled, rescheduled and then delayed again for almost 24 hours as well. I have to say both carriers I've never paid for a bag and walk on with at least 4 every time.
      1-backpack
      2-travel purse (basically a giant bag)
      3-totebag
      4- camera bag(small travel purse)

  32. MRS.COCO Guest

    Well l haven't flown with Frontier yet l have flown with Spirit a few time and they are very high on bags wi-fi is not free the snacks they have is not worth the price and some of there flight attendance are very uncouresty an very rude.

  33. frrp Member

    When you pay 70 dollars to pick a seat, youre just encouraging that sort of behavior.,

    1. Ron from FL Guest

      Versus $500 for first class]????

  34. Scott Guest

    Never flown Spirit and only flew Frontier back in their previous iteration -- used to have to fly from DCA to DEN weekly for a few months and I enjoyed the live TV which was a novelty at the time. But now that I live in AVL I've flown Allegiant a few times since they have nonstops to places where my family live (LAS, VPS). Never had a bad experience, and the key is getting...

    Never flown Spirit and only flew Frontier back in their previous iteration -- used to have to fly from DCA to DEN weekly for a few months and I enjoyed the live TV which was a novelty at the time. But now that I live in AVL I've flown Allegiant a few times since they have nonstops to places where my family live (LAS, VPS). Never had a bad experience, and the key is getting the extra legroom seats, which are only like $5-7 extra to book. All the times I've flown Allegiant have been with our toddler, so with him in the middle between my wife and me it's not too bad. Plus, since it's got a lot of families on board, when our toddler acts up (and we try to quell that immediately), I feel like the passengers have a higher tolerance than if you were on a Big 3 character full of important business people.

  35. Jeff Guest

    This is a good comparison for those who travel infrequently on either of them. When you start factoring in the airlines' Elite statuses, that is where Frontier narrows the margin down- and in my opinion takes the advantage over Spirit. I have F9's lowest status, Elite 20K, and with that I appreciate that I can bring a free carry on and select my seat at booking- with the Stretch Seats becoming free at check in....

    This is a good comparison for those who travel infrequently on either of them. When you start factoring in the airlines' Elite statuses, that is where Frontier narrows the margin down- and in my opinion takes the advantage over Spirit. I have F9's lowest status, Elite 20K, and with that I appreciate that I can bring a free carry on and select my seat at booking- with the Stretch Seats becoming free at check in. Compared to Spirit, which doesn't give you either benefit, except for the Exit row becoming available just 3 hours before departure.

    Both airlines are great, and would create a strong ULCC. But if there's one thing for sure that Frontier has an edge over Spirit, it's certainly in their Elite status, and that is the biggest thing I hope they carry over in the merger (in addition to their branding of course).

    1. Charles Guest

      This. Elite 100K comes with The Works for up to 8 people traveling together. Everything is free at booking (Discount Den membership, stretch seating, all bags, and the greatest benefit of all...every ticket is fully refundable (i.e. back to the method of payment) up until 24 hours before the flight).

      And Frontier is operationally reliable, IME, which is a really valuable benefit if you care to be where and when you originally expect.

      Elite...

      This. Elite 100K comes with The Works for up to 8 people traveling together. Everything is free at booking (Discount Den membership, stretch seating, all bags, and the greatest benefit of all...every ticket is fully refundable (i.e. back to the method of payment) up until 24 hours before the flight).

      And Frontier is operationally reliable, IME, which is a really valuable benefit if you care to be where and when you originally expect.

      Elite 100K was matched from my Hyatt Globalist during their official status match promotion last year.

  36. ECR Guest

    I've never flown frontier... but any airline that makes Spirit look good can't be good for competition.

    1. Regis Guest

      "Any airline that makes Spirit look good..."

      I always regarded Spirit the bottom of the barrel but from Ben's review of Frontier it looks like one can descend even lower.

    2. ECR Guest

      Yea, I'm worried that this kind of competition makes American and others think they have room to go on making the customer experience less pleasant.

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.

Julia Guest

Is there any way to remove that "Trending" box on the right side of the screen? It's annoying and covers up content.

4
ECR Guest

Yea, I'm worried that this kind of competition makes American and others think they have room to go on making the customer experience less pleasant.

3
Regis Guest

"Any airline that makes Spirit look good..." I always regarded Spirit the bottom of the barrel but from Ben's review of Frontier it looks like one can descend even lower.

3
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