Frontier Airlines is an Ultra-Low-Cost Airline. While the definition of what makes an airline belong in this category varies, the one thing it means to consumers is that you can expect very low “base” fares and you’ll need to pay for almost all of the extras. You need to pay for a checked bag, carry-on bag and seat assignment. There’s no free in-flight beverages or snack service. There’s no seatback entertainment screen and no Wi-Fi available. The tray table isn’t even big enough to hold a laptop or large tablet
So it comes as a surprise that Frontier has a generous policy when it comes to changing or canceling your flight. Why would they do that?
In September 2019, Frontier tweaked its policy regarding making changes to or canceling a ticket. While you were previously able to make fee-free changes to a ticket more than 90 days out, the new policy allows you to change or cancel a ticket within 60 days of travel for no charge.
For those who purchase the WORKS package at the time of booking, those tickets are already fully refundable up until 24 hours before departure, including the price of the fare and the bundle.
Giving an extra 30 days to cancel a flight for no charge is great. However, things often come with a cost and canceling or changing a flight less than between 59 and 14 days before departure has become more expensive.
Who does this benefit?
I’d say this is a great thing for people who tend to make plans way in advance. This is usually leisure travelers, probably families, who are planning a vacation. Since Frontier occasionally has fantastic fare sales, you’d be able to lock in a great price way in advance. However, what if you weren’t totally sure if you could make the trip until your work schedule gets clearer closer to the travel date.
If you’d need to pay a huge fee to cancel or change the flight, you would most likely hold off on making that purchase. Knowing that you can cancel the flight with no fees allows you to buy those tickets without worry.
Frontier knows when they sell tickets for their trips. It must make sense for them to allow changes without worrying the flights will go out with empty seats. 60 days or more is plenty of time for Frontier to sell seats to someone else, most likely at a higher price than the original person paid for them.
“No Change Fee” Doesn’t Mean Changes Are Free
I just wanted to make this distinction because people can easily become confused and frustrated if they misunderstand what “No Change Fee” means.
For most airlines, if you book a ticket and want to change it, they’re going to charge you a fee per ticket. So even if you’re switching to a flight with the same price you paid initially, airlines such as American, United or Delta charge a $200 change fee for a domestic ticket. This is the main reason why even if the price of your ticket drops after booking, it rarely makes sense to try and get a refund because the price would need to go down more than $200 just to break even. It’s also why, if you need to cancel an inexpensive ticket, it’s often lost money (unless you get a friendly airline agent).
So if there are no change fees, that means you can change tickets to another flight for free, right?
While Frontier is not charging any fee to change or cancel a flight that’s 60 or more days away, you’re still responsible for the difference in fare between the ticket you booked and the present price of the ticket you want. If you booked a $10 ticket and want to change to a ticket that currently costs $100, you’ll need to pay the extra $90. “No change fee” means that you won’t have to pay an additional fee over the difference in prices.
Frontier allowing free changes to flights more than 60 days away is a great thing for those who make plans way in advance. If you catch a great fare sale, there’s no fear in locking in a ticket even if there’s a chance you’ll need to change the dates or cancel the trip altogether.
Increasing the price for changes between 59 and 14 days stings a little because that’s when you’ll usually find out you’ll need to adjust plans (and I’m sure that Frontier knows this). However, a $79 fee is still less than the $200 you’ll pay with any of the other big three US carriers.
If you’re flying on a cheap fare with Frontier (or any fare for that matter), I’d recommend looking into getting Freebird flight delay insurance because if something goes wrong on the day of travel, you don’t want to be stranded for days or end up having to book an outrageously expensive last-minute ticket.
If you want to get free changes and cancellation of flights up until the last minute, Southwest still doesn’t ever charge a fee over the difference in the airfare. Just beware that if you cancel a flight with Southwest, you’ll receive a voucher from them that needs to be used within a year of the initial booking instead of a cash refund.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary