Frontier Airlines Oversize Bag Fee Incident Goes Viral… Without Merit

Frontier Airlines Oversize Bag Fee Incident Goes Viral… Without Merit

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Frontier Airlines is getting some bad publicity for its practice of paying staff a commission on collecting oversize bag fees, creating a system whereby employees are incentivized to act unethically. Is this frustration justified, though?

Frontier pays staff a bonus for collecting fees

Frontier is an ultra low cost carrier. That means the airline generally has low base fares, but also charges fees for just about everything, from seat assignments, to carry-on bags, to checked bags. A ticket on Frontier only includes a personal item, and no luggage beyond that.

The airline is incredibly transparent about its policies, and when you go through the process of booking a Frontier ticket, you’ll repeatedly be asked to confirm you understand the luggage rules for the type of ticket you purchased.

Those who do show up at the gate with bags beyond their allowance are penalized with a higher fee for those bags than they would have paid if they purchased them in advance. That’s fair enough, because you don’t want to create a system whereby customers are incentivized to try to sneak something on, and only pay if they can’t get away with it. That would consistently create huge departure delays.

Frontier Airlines has strict carry-on rules

Along those lines, Frontier actually pays gate agents a commission on all the checked bag fees they collect. This is typically about $10 per bag, and it creates an incentive for employees to police carry-on bags, and make sure people are following policies. Keep in mind that Frontier largely uses contract agents, and I can’t imagine employees would care a whole lot unless they had an incentive to.

Does this create too much of an incentive, though, and sometimes cause employees to act out of line?

Frontier customer accuses airline of unsavory practices

The Daily Mail has the story of how Frontier pays its staff a bonus each time they charge customers extra for oversized bags, “even when their bags aren’t too big.” This is based on a recent series of videos that were posted to TikTok — in total the person posted 25 different videos to TikTok about what happened.

For context, this incident occurred several days ago on Frontier Airlines flight 537 from Washington (DCA) to Denver (DEN).

Below is the claim of what happened:

Hello, I don’t usually post these kinds of personal issues, but I feel the need… earlier today on my flight with @flyfrontier we were told our bags didn’t fit the personal item bin, when they clearly do. Three of us were charged for bags that were personal items. I don’t find this fair because no where on the sign does it say “it can’t be pushed,” yet that was what they argued to us. THE BAGS FIT. Please help me share this information to make sure there is better communication and these people are not being taken advantage of.

You can see the two most important videos below.

@dyanavilla.tv

Please make this go viral! The frontier front desk and supervisor were not cooperating with their guest. PLEASE HELP US GET THIS TO FRONTIER! #frontier #viral #flying #flight #carryon #personalitem #frontierairlines

♬ original sound – Dyana Villa

Okay, on the surface it seems like the Frontier agent is acting totally out of line. Those two bags easily fit in the personal item sizer, so it would be ridiculous if a gate agent tried to charge passengers for them. You can’t even reasonably make the argument that the bags have to be smushed down in order to fit.

However, what the trio seem to conveniently ignore and not focus on is all the other things they’re carrying. For example, in the below screen grab you can see that in addition to the actual bag that’s in the sizer, she also has a backpack, a neck pillow, and two jackets in her hands.

Screen grab from viral Frontier Airlines video

Meanwhile another person in the party very clearly has two carry-on bags.

Screen grab from viral Frontier Airlines video

On top of that, in the video you can see some loose clothes sitting on one of the seats near the bag sizer, which presumably also belongs to this party.

Could the gate agents have communicated policies more clearly? Yes, though we only have the footage that one party decided to share. However, based on actually watching the video carefully, I don’t think the gate agent crossed the line in terms of the policy she was enforcing.

The question isn’t whether the bags they chose to squeeze into the sizer fit. Rather the question is whether all their personal belongings could fit in there, and that’s something that they conveniently don’t show.

In a statement, Frontier Airlines comes to the same conclusion:

“The video fails to show that the customer using the sizer box had an additional carry-on bag. Each customer is allowed one free personal item that must fit within the smaller sizer box. This customer had more than one bag and they were not able to combine them into a single bag that fit in the personal item box. The second customer’s bag did not fit into the free personal item sizer box without removing much of its contents.”

“Allowing these customers to board without paying would be inequitable to every other customer who was already onboard with paid bags.”

Bottom line

Frontier Airlines makes much of its revenue from fees, though the airline is incredibly transparent about what customers should expect to pay. A recent TikTok series has gone viral, depicting a Frontier agent allegedly trying to charge passengers for bags that easily fit in the sizer.

What this seems to ignore is all the other luggage that passengers were carrying, which had been removed from these bags. So sure, if you show a video of a bag that easily fits in a sizer and claim that’s the issue, I can appreciate the outrage. But that’s only part of the story.

I’ll be the first to call out Frontier when the airline does something wrong, but in this case I just see representatives of an ultra low cost carrier enforcing the company’s policies.

What do you make of this Frontier incident?

Conversations (46)
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  1. Mario Guest

    There’s another Instagram post about a grey bag that doesn’t fit and we can see it does and is stored without issue under the seat, yet the agent called Liz, is rude and makes no sense, makes them pay $100 to board.

    The man is calmly talking to her and she calls security. So let’s be clear they aren’t saints and this nonsense continues until they get jailed for false claims.

  2. William pace Guest

    Frontier box at the airport is a cheat,
    My luggage slides effortlessly into the Spirit size checker, yet the Frontier size checker is 1/2 inch smaller at all dimensions,
    No gate agent would offer a tape measure to verify their sizing box..
    Frontier is cheating and overcharging

  3. Melissa Guest

    This is so disingenuous. There are MANY videos of people putting a bag that EXACTLY fits into the sizer, and being denied, and charged the $99 fee. It’s not just this one video. I saw several. This is not a one-off. Please do more research.

  4. GJJ Guest

    First of all, for the people that say the seats are 40$ you have not flown Frontier. There is no flight of that range anywhere. Second, a backpack is a personal item in every other airline except for frontier. They have a business of scamming people for fees for backpacks as carryons with penalties.

  5. Car Zengo Guest

    Frontier is abusive not only for charging but for the way the employees treat people during the process which is very disrespectful. Someone in Frontiers Corporate level needs to addressed this issue.

  6. Jack Smith Guest

    I've seen Frontier be crappy first hand. A Hispanic guy had the same size backpack as me. She declared it too large and that he'd need to pay $99. Didn't even check just screwed him over.

  7. Jane Guest

    Nope I’ve seen a bunch of HARD suitcase videos where it clearly fits with room to spare and agents are still charging and saying it doesn’t fit and it doesn’t even go above the box!

  8. Melody Guest

    How about giving employees an incentive for good customer service and professionalism?

    Instead you pay them to be rude and disrespectful. Not a good way to win customers. I’d rather pay a little more at an airline that I feel appreciates my business and their customers than a cheaper airline that is rude and doesn’t care about their customers. I’m sure most people would agree.

  9. ToddH Guest

    I won't fly on a trash airline like Frontier.

  10. William Mansfield Guest

    I flew LAS to PBI a few weeks back. Connected in Atlanta. They were checking every bag, as they should. People shouldn’t abuse the rules. Gate agents were like rabid dogs. Woman in front of me, travelling with kids and also connecting, put her (soft sided) personal item in the sizer. It got caught on the lip, and as she was pushing it down, they were barking (doesn’t fit, you have to pay). Make your...

    I flew LAS to PBI a few weeks back. Connected in Atlanta. They were checking every bag, as they should. People shouldn’t abuse the rules. Gate agents were like rabid dogs. Woman in front of me, travelling with kids and also connecting, put her (soft sided) personal item in the sizer. It got caught on the lip, and as she was pushing it down, they were barking (doesn’t fit, you have to pay). Make your employees do their job enforcing the rules. Don’t incentivize them to break the rules themselves. Their behaviors was disgusting.

  11. William Mansfield Guest

    The story this whitewashing industry rag won’t tell… I flew Frontier from Vegas to Palm Beach a few weeks ago. The gate agents were checking every bag, as they should. Woman in front of me, travelling with kids and boarding a connecting flight, had a soft bag personal item that easily fit, though she had to push it down into the sizer as it got caught on the lip. They made her pay $100. They...

    The story this whitewashing industry rag won’t tell… I flew Frontier from Vegas to Palm Beach a few weeks ago. The gate agents were checking every bag, as they should. Woman in front of me, travelling with kids and boarding a connecting flight, had a soft bag personal item that easily fit, though she had to push it down into the sizer as it got caught on the lip. They made her pay $100. They were like rabid dogs. I don’t condone passengers abusing the policy either, but pay your employees to enforce the rules WITHOUT financial incentive to abuse them themselves.

  12. Sle Guest

    I read the comments. My daughter and family flew last Sunday. They had to pay $100. for a carry on that was (with wheels) a full measurable 1/2 in over. Over is over, right? I suppose the 5 yr old could have taken out her blanket to reduce the size.. insane.

  13. MQ Guest

    Ok but what's wrong with her holding a jacket? And the "don't push it in there" is nowhere mentioned on the sizer. I understand they have to enforce the sizes and fees, and they are upfront about it. But the fact the agent wanted to question her about the jacket and they don't allow you to push the bag in is clearly very scummy.

    1. Eboe the Magnificent Guest

      We actually just flew with Frontier on Monday and even though our personal items clearly fit, we were told to shove it all the way down to make sure the straps weren't sticking out. Some apparently say you can't shove and some make you shove. I had less of an issue with the policy than I did with the attitude and rudeness of the guy checking the size. Not only was he rude but he...

      We actually just flew with Frontier on Monday and even though our personal items clearly fit, we were told to shove it all the way down to make sure the straps weren't sticking out. Some apparently say you can't shove and some make you shove. I had less of an issue with the policy than I did with the attitude and rudeness of the guy checking the size. Not only was he rude but he was a slob. I'm surprised that they don't have a dress code that they enforce the same way they enforce the bag size rule. Looking presentable and professional should be mandatory. Showers, pit stick and clean, tucked in clothing should be standard.

  14. LeavingFrontierForever Guest

    Ruined my daughters trip (to tears) as check-in agent encouraged her to bring 2nd small bag to gate as personal bag after charging $50 overweight fee for a pre-checked bag. Issue was the personal bag could have fit inside the checked bag with no additional fee. Gate team then charged a $100 fee for the personal bag brought to gate at direction of baggage check-in team. This bag was not needed and only brought to...

    Ruined my daughters trip (to tears) as check-in agent encouraged her to bring 2nd small bag to gate as personal bag after charging $50 overweight fee for a pre-checked bag. Issue was the personal bag could have fit inside the checked bag with no additional fee. Gate team then charged a $100 fee for the personal bag brought to gate at direction of baggage check-in team. This bag was not needed and only brought to reduce 4lbs from checked bag! Now it makes sense! Beware - collusion with fees added all over the place.

  15. Lacinda schell Guest

    I was charged 166$ for one suitcase, she said take it or leave it. Second I got to gate, different lady said u need to go over there n get a new boarding pass, we had to move your seat, yours was between a lady n her infant. Got on plane it was lady n 9 year old. Here airline charged me 37$ for a seat preference that I didn't request.

  16. iamhere Guest

    I 100% agree with the customers complaining. Because the check in agents get a commission for charging fees they are not on the side of the customer and try to charge a fee in any way that they can. Then the customer needs to argue or prove their point. May be customers should start brining a tape measure to prove the size of their bag for example. It should not be up to the customer...

    I 100% agree with the customers complaining. Because the check in agents get a commission for charging fees they are not on the side of the customer and try to charge a fee in any way that they can. Then the customer needs to argue or prove their point. May be customers should start brining a tape measure to prove the size of their bag for example. It should not be up to the customer to prove themselves. True that they are flying a "low cost" airline, but on the other hand there are limits to these "games." After you are done with various fees then the ticket price is not much different from a "regular" airline.

  17. Jerry Guest

    Gotta love businesses starting to use the term “unequitable” when trying to make money. And everyone really thought this movement started organically and it was all about race. LOL.

  18. Andrea C Guest

    You are not viewing the entire collection of the TikTok videos from Dyana Villa. The lady recording is a journalist. She got charged and paid for her personal item on the first leg of her flight. She didn't bring anything else. No purse or other bag. One hard shell pink bag measuring less than 18x14x8 and easily goes into sizer. She also got denied boarding from another flight because she was recording the sizing process...

    You are not viewing the entire collection of the TikTok videos from Dyana Villa. The lady recording is a journalist. She got charged and paid for her personal item on the first leg of her flight. She didn't bring anything else. No purse or other bag. One hard shell pink bag measuring less than 18x14x8 and easily goes into sizer. She also got denied boarding from another flight because she was recording the sizing process in Denver. Yes the other people may have other items but I have seen first hand people get denied boarding or have to trash bags even when they are following the Frontier guidelines.

  19. Wendy Guest

    Frontier does charge for bags that clearly fit. I fly often and every single time we all have a huge problem with Frontier employees charging us and the employees do not care. My daughter and 2 babys were trapped at airport because of Frontier employees pushing they carry on charges like they do. Another time my daughter and 2 babys were not allowed to fly because of same issue. If another passenger had not stepped...

    Frontier does charge for bags that clearly fit. I fly often and every single time we all have a huge problem with Frontier employees charging us and the employees do not care. My daughter and 2 babys were trapped at airport because of Frontier employees pushing they carry on charges like they do. Another time my daughter and 2 babys were not allowed to fly because of same issue. If another passenger had not stepped up and paid for carry on again they would have been stranded at airport again.
    This is a huge problem with Frontier.

    1. Kieran Guest

      Let’s hope your daughter doesn’t book a third trip with Frontier

  20. Nawaid Ladak Guest

    As a Frontier elite member with DCA/BWI as my home airports, I know the person handling the gate in the video. She's actually one of the better ones on that team and looks to be in the right when you study everything about the video.

    Her manager on the other hand tried to charge me a bogus $25 agent assistance fee when I tried to purchase a ticket from the counter to avoid their...

    As a Frontier elite member with DCA/BWI as my home airports, I know the person handling the gate in the video. She's actually one of the better ones on that team and looks to be in the right when you study everything about the video.

    Her manager on the other hand tried to charge me a bogus $25 agent assistance fee when I tried to purchase a ticket from the counter to avoid their CIC. The contract agents at DCA also have a tendency to hard close the ticket/check in counter 45 minutes before departure with no regard for anyone who may be in line, especially the manager for the team there.

    The BWI staff is phenomenal.

    1. YinDaoYan Diamond

      The contract agents at DCA also have a tendency to hard close the ticket/check in counter 45 minutes before departure with no regard for anyone who may be in line

      This is standard across airlines, not just ULCCs. The rules are that you have completed check in at T-45, not that you are in line to check in. I have heard stories of hard cutoffs on other airlines.

    2. NedsKid Guest

      Actually DOT in response to customer complaints has held airlines to the "in line = on time" assuming they joined the line ahead of the cut-off time. Kind of like going to vote.

  21. Guest Guest

    Frontier are the biggest scammers in the airline industry,i flew with them and one of their agent tag my bag incorrectly sending it to another destination not my name or address after i pay them $100 when i made it to my destination and coult not see my bag i immediately file a claim and fill out paperwork and Frontier has the audacity to tell me i reported it late and there's nothing they can...

    Frontier are the biggest scammers in the airline industry,i flew with them and one of their agent tag my bag incorrectly sending it to another destination not my name or address after i pay them $100 when i made it to my destination and coult not see my bag i immediately file a claim and fill out paperwork and Frontier has the audacity to tell me i reported it late and there's nothing they can do i was without my clothes for 4 days had to purchase clothes save my receipts as they said they would rehemburst me,when i finally got my luggage that went to Arizona when my destination was montego bay Jamaica suitcase was damage items missing and they said its not their fault,and they have you pay for even a carryon if people can avoid flying with them it would be great they have no customer service training and dont take their customers interest at heart

  22. Flying Delt Guest

    I fly Frontier however I know what to expect. Honestly, I have found I buy a carry on if I need it and I buy a seat assignment because I like knowing my seat. I'm still well under the cost of Delta. And as far as service on board, there is nothing a bag of candy doesn't get me. I've gotten drinks, snacks, and many smiles for a low price. You just have to know how to play the game. And with my All you can fly pass starting in May I will be flying them a lot.

    1. YinDaoYan Diamond

      Honestly, I have found I buy a carry on if I need it and I buy a seat assignment because I like knowing my seat.

      In my experience, when I bundle a Frontier flight with these "perks," the total price comes within a hair of the normal airlines.

  23. Thomas Christoffersen Guest

    What a total shitshow and by that i mean both Airline and passengers

  24. Regis Guest

    I don't understand how these ULCCs stay in business and why people fly them. After adding all the fees - who can travel anywhere without at least a personal item and a carry on - the total price is always the same as a mainline carrier. Plus crappy or no customer service, it makes no sense to me.

    1. YinDaoYan Diamond

      I don't understand how these ULCCs stay in business and why people fly them.

      ULCCs stay in business for two reasons. First, if you're flying with no luggage -- perhaps you've shipped your belongings to your destination -- and you're OK with a cramped middle seat in the back of the plane -- and you're also OK with long delays -- then your fare really may be ultra low cost. I mean cheaper than gasoline...

      I don't understand how these ULCCs stay in business and why people fly them.

      ULCCs stay in business for two reasons. First, if you're flying with no luggage -- perhaps you've shipped your belongings to your destination -- and you're OK with a cramped middle seat in the back of the plane -- and you're also OK with long delays -- then your fare really may be ultra low cost. I mean cheaper than gasoline if you were to drive yourself on the same route.

      Second, exploitation. Airline deregulation means the airlines get away with more than they should. A lot of consumers aren't well-informed (and I'm not blaming them per se). Advertising a $40 fare when the airline knows damn well that virtually all passengers have luggage that will easily triple that price is exploitative in my view.

    2. NedsKid Guest

      I do quite well to fly Spirit... did a status challenge to Silver and achieved it. I go to Orlando for the day or weekend with just a backpack for $30.03 round trip all in (base fare $0.93) an as a Silver I can pick a seat at check-in (they do limit it to about an 8 row block aft of the exit row) so I pretty much get an aisle if I want one...

      I do quite well to fly Spirit... did a status challenge to Silver and achieved it. I go to Orlando for the day or weekend with just a backpack for $30.03 round trip all in (base fare $0.93) an as a Silver I can pick a seat at check-in (they do limit it to about an 8 row block aft of the exit row) so I pretty much get an aisle if I want one every time.

      Just got to figure out the game. And to your earlier point about bundles.... I think those are the biggest scam. They may discount one popular item in the pack but counter it by including items you don't typically need like a free name change or priority security at somewhere like Richmond.

    3. George Romey Guest

      Because it's become in vogue to buy a $40 seat on a crap airline and then upload a video on social media of how horrible the experience was. As my mother said (someone raised when people had common sense) people that buy used food shouldn't complain about the taste.

  25. Willie miller Guest

    I'm fighting with them now. I paid for my luggage. On a nonstop flight. 172$. My luggage was in dallas. But I was in detroit. Then I got a email saying I volunteered to leave my luggage. Which I didn't. I got my luggage 3 days later. And had to drive back up to Detroit to get my luggage. Ridiculous. They tried to accuse me of being late. When I was inline for 2 hours. That's not including at the airport. Waiting to put my bags on.

    1. YinDaoYan Diamond

      I'm guessing you are never going to fly Frontier again. And they certainly do not deserve any more of your business.

  26. Amy Guest

    My checked bag was 2 lbs over and I did not get charged extra. I was going to try to remove stuff. But I'm guessing they wanted to keep the line moving and let me go. My personal item met the requirements except the wheels. I thought they were going to charge me for a carry on, but I squished into the personal sizer wheels and all and they let it go.

  27. Bret Guest

    Have unusually terrible baggage policies, expect an unusually terrible customer response to the policy. Whether communicated well or not. It’s human behavior. Not sure why Frontier wouldn’t expect constant customer feedback on this, including on social media. They’ve chosen this path, and now the employees have to decide whether $10 compensation per bag is worth dealing with constant customer pushback. I feel the worst for them, because many probably need that $10 per bag to...

    Have unusually terrible baggage policies, expect an unusually terrible customer response to the policy. Whether communicated well or not. It’s human behavior. Not sure why Frontier wouldn’t expect constant customer feedback on this, including on social media. They’ve chosen this path, and now the employees have to decide whether $10 compensation per bag is worth dealing with constant customer pushback. I feel the worst for them, because many probably need that $10 per bag to scrape by.

    Shame on Frontier for creating this system.

  28. Morgan Diamond

    That's the problem with TikTok a bunch of morons trying to get 10 seconds of fame.

  29. jack Guest

    The policies are clear and the agent was doing her job. Shame on the people recording this and trying to scam their way then trying to get some views on TikTok.

  30. Amit Guest

    People love to complain and want to get away with things as much as possible. Frontier does a great job of telling you what to expect and even incentivized buying bag space beforehand. Just pay for a checked bag and seats, and avoid all the nonsense. You’ll usually still be paying less than legacy airlines. However be prepared for pain if they have to cancel flights.

  31. Poe Guest

    So you're telling me if I pay a gate agent $11 they will get more than their commission for getting a bag paid for.

    1. Hobbs Guest

      Risk losing your job for one measly dollar?

  32. George N Romey Guest

    It's a company that has a bottom feeder business model. Fly Frontier, expect to be treated to a NY Subway experience.

  33. T_ Member

    It does sound like their policy was properly enforced at the complaints are a little unfair. But just looking at their actual policies (having never flown with Frontier), boy do they sound like an unpleasant airline to fly with.

    1. YinDaoYan Diamond

      But just looking at their actual policies (having never flown with Frontier), boy do they sound like an unpleasant airline to fly with.

      Yep. In contract law, you can't enforce clauses that are unconscionable. Unfortunately consumer law is not so advanced yet, otherwise Frontier and any other business would be barred from pulling these absurd moves. Why should any civilized modern society allow unpleasant businesses to stay in business?

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.

Morgan Diamond

That's the problem with TikTok a bunch of morons trying to get 10 seconds of fame.

2
T_ Member

It does sound like their policy was properly enforced at the complaints are a little unfair. But just looking at their actual policies (having never flown with Frontier), boy do they sound like an unpleasant airline to fly with.

2
George Romey Guest

Because it's become in vogue to buy a $40 seat on a crap airline and then upload a video on social media of how horrible the experience was. As my mother said (someone raised when people had common sense) people that buy used food shouldn't complain about the taste.

1
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