I Wanted A Reliable Airline So I Booked With Frontier Instead Of American

This is a headline that I never thought I’d write but here we are. I needed to choose a flight to get from Orlando to Austin. There used to be several non-stop flights between the two cities but airline schedules change and I was left with a set of options that would not have been my first choices. When you need to get from point A to point B, it becomes necessary to choose from the options you have.

The two options I had were:

  • A non-stop flight on Frontier with excellent flight times
  • Flights on American connecting either in Charlotte or Dallas

Other airlines such as Spirit and JetBlue had non-stop flights but the times were terrible and Delta’s prices for connecting flights were way too high. So I had to decide between Frontier or American.

Frontier

IMG_5557

Pros for taking Frontier:

  • Non-stop flight
  • Perfect flight times
  • Least expensive fare

Cons for taking Frontier:

  • Would have to pay for checked bag & carry-on for this trip
  • Bad reputation for canceling flights
  • Not much help during IRROPS (Irregular Operations like weather delays)

For me, all of the cons are already in the equation when I consider booking a Frontier flight. I add in the price of the extras when comparing prices with other airlines and I have enough confidence that if things go totally sideways, I’ll be able to figure out some way to get to where we’re going.

American

American Planes Parked at Terminal

Pros for taking American:

Cons for taking American:

and the most important downside to booking American

  • The lack of reliability of their flights possibly due to the ongoing labor dispute with their mechanics’ union.

The first three cons are well known to us and we could give them value in our head when making a decision. Having a free flight voucher burning a hole in my pocket and finding a possible use for it was a huge draw to booking with American.

However, the ongoing problem with American and the delays and cancellations they’ve been suffering over the past few months made me pick flying with Frontier over them.

I can hear the cries about how horrible Frontier is and horror stories about how they strand passengers due to the canceled flights. I know this. But Frontier isn’t the only airline to cancel flights and strand passengers. All airlines do it. In fact, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, for the month of June American canceled a larger percentage of their flights than Frontier and double or more that of Southwest and Spirit.

  • American: 4%
  • Frontier: 2.56%
  • Southwest: 2.02%
  • Spirit: 1.69%
  • Alaska: 0.83%
  • United: 0.63%
  • Allegiant: 0.55%
  • JetBlue: 0.51%
  • Delta 0.22%

Source: masFlight, the flight-data analytics unit of Global Eagle

It’s not just cancellations with American, their planes also get delayed a lot. Despite their drive for planes to leave on-time, often called “D-0”, for the summer travel season they have only been hovering around 60% with that number.

Final Thoughts

So while Frontier’s flight was timed better for us and lacked a connection, there was a significant appeal to the American flight (IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FREE!)

At this point, even a free flight wasn’t enough to make me willingly want to fly on American. I feel that I have a better chance of getting to my destination on Frontier than if we flew American, and that’s saying something. I realize that Frontier is far from the best in this area. Just in case, I am seriously thinking about getting the Freebird insurance that Shawn from Miles to Memories wrote about. $19 dollars to protect me against a flight delay or cancellation might just be worth it.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

One thought on “I Wanted A Reliable Airline So I Booked With Frontier Instead Of American”

  1. I guess a lot depends on the time frame you’re looking at. If it’s in the next couple of months, American is still likely to have major delays due to labor problems, so Frontier comes up as the better option. I missed the Freebird app. It’s a nice idea.

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