Frontier Airlines offers ‘all you can fly pass’ from NJ area airports
About Frontier Airlines
For just over a decade now, "ultra low-cost" airline Frontier Airlines has provided service from Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing, N.J. Featuring non-stop destinations including Orlando, Atlantic, and Chicago, Frontier offers a limited number of flights per week with very few frills. Additional Frontier flights and destinations are available from LaGuardia Airport (Queens, N.Y.), Long Island MacArthur Airport (Ronkonkama, N.Y.), New York Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley, and Philadelphia International Airport.
Frontier pioneered the airline industry's growing standard of charging for everything: Reserving a specific seat, bringing on a carry-on bag, and requesting assistance from a staff member (either when booking or at the airport) requires additional fees. The bare bones service is often the subject of mixed reviews.
On the flip side, base airfare is often surprisingly low - so for those passengers who only need transportation from "Point A" to "Point B," there are deals to be found. Especially for those who become members of Frontier Airlines' paid "Discount Den" program.
Frontier is also known for their personality. Each of the 115 planes in their fleet features a different animal, each of which has a clever, appropriate name. (Such as Jack the rabbit, Grizwald the bear, and Foxy the fox.)
This year, Frontier Airlines announced their new "GoWild! All-You-Can-Fly Pass". As the name implies, purchasing this pass allows an unlimited number of Frontier flights for one person over the course of twelve months.
Through December 12, 2022, a limited number of GoWild! passes will be sold at $799 each. For a short time, the pass was available for an introductory rate of $599 per person. The Frontier web site lists the Retail and Renewal Price at a much higher $1,999.
The Fine Print
As amazing as the GoWild! benefits are, the pass also comes with a long list of caveats, conditions, and catches. Including:
--Blackout dates... While Frontier claims the pass is good "300 days a year," it is not valid for specific dates in 2023 and 2024. (Primarily, although not exclusively, surrounding major holidays.)
--Booking window... Passholders can only book domestic flights one day before departure. International flights are a bit more generous, allowing 10 days for booking.
--No round-trip... Again, you can only book a day in advance. So you can't book a guaranteed return trip until that window opens.
--Subject to availability... All seats are full on the flight you want to take? Too bad.
--Taxes and fees... While the booking fee for a pass flight is only $0.01, there are additional mandatory charges assessed at the time of each booking.
--No seat, no bags... Frontier's specialty is charging for all the extras. And that includes a pre-reserved seat, a carry-on or checked bag, expedited airport service, web check-in, etc. (You can "customize your travel" - i.e. pay extra for those add-on products.)
--Start date... While the discount is available now - just in time for the holidays - the passes do not start until May 2, 2023.
--Auto-renewal... The pass is set to renew for another year automatically in May 2024, at the full retail price of $1,999.
--No miles... Any miles traveled do not count at all toward frequent flier rewards or status.
In the end, a deal like this comes down to whether or not it makes financial sense. And yes, I believe there are a few use cases where the pass would same travelers a planeload of cash. Especially those who fly frequently, to Frontier airports, and always have very flexible plans.
Think: Retired sightseers, digital nomads (who work remotely while seeing the world), and possibly those traveling on business regularly.
However, this is definitely not a worthy impulse buy for every NJ vacationer.
Keep in mind, flights on Frontier may be dirt-cheap anyway. And kids even fly free through the Discount Den program.
Also, those who sign up will have to watch the auto-renew. While the year of unlimited travel might make sense at the $599 or $799 price point, it's much harder to make the pass "worth it" at almost two grand.
The new marketing initiative comes just months after a proposed merger between Frontier and budget-friendly Spirit Airlines was cancelled. Hopefully the GoWild! pass is a new seat-filling initiative for Frontier. And not a desperate attempt to drum up new business and score some quick cash.
I am reminded of Independence Air, which offered a similar unlimited travel deal for college students only during the summer of 2005. (I remember this vividly because as a university rising senior that summer, I was very tempted to jump on the deal.) The promotion did not catch fire, as Independence Air declared bankruptcy in November 2005, abruptly ceasing operations shortly thereafter.