Low-cost specialist Frontier Airlines has unveiled plans for a huge network expansion, adding 21 cities to its route map by next spring. The carrier will also add service on dozens of new routes between cities it already serves.
Introductory fares are as low as $39 each way but keep in mind that Frontier fares are laden with all sorts of extra fees, which it calls “Optional Services.”
The company said the total number of non-stop routes it serves will nearly double by next summer, to 314. Frontier is due to take delivery of more than a dozen new aircraft by the end of next year, and will also free up more planes by trimming frequencies on some existing routes.
At Mineta San Jose Airport, Frontier will start flying to Denver on October 5 and Las Vegas on November 1, followed sometime next spring by flights to Austin and San Antonio. Some routes seem a little odd, like a new nonstop between Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Check Frontiers fares and schedules here.
The biggest bump in Frontier’s schedules will come at Denver, its headquarters city. In addition to San Jose, Frontier will add flights from DEN to Ontario, California beginning October 12; Albuquerque on October 24; Oklahoma City November 1; Palm Springs November 10; Reno November 21; and later to Boise, Buffalo, Calgary, Charleston (S.C.), El Paso, Fargo, Fresno, Grand Rapids, Jackson Hole, Little Rock, Louisville, Pensacola, Spokane and Tulsa.
The airline will also bulk up its schedule at Islip, Long Island with new service to Ft. Myers, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago O’Hare and Detroit. New routes from Austin in addition to San Jose will include Ontario, Calif. as well as Phoenix, New Orleans, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Cincinnati and Columbus.
Frontier’s announcement did not specify the number of flight frequencies in its new markets (but it’s schedules are notoriously thin, which means problems when flights are cancelled). You can see a complete list of all of them here.
“Customers will benefit not only from the broad new selection of nonstop routes, but our growing network will provide more than 1,000 new connecting route options,” said Frontier CEO Barry Biffle. “By taking advantage of our natural share of connecting passengers, we can offer our low fares to even more of America. This is particularly important through our largest hub and our home in Denver.”
Frontier has a history of announcing batches of new routes every now and then, and discontinuing service on others. Of the 21 cities it is adding to its network, 16 are airports that it once served but then stopped.
But the size of the latest expansion announcement is unprecedented. We have to wonder if this could be Frontier’s response to the growing availability of new “basic economy” fares on the major legacy airlines – fares which are the legacy carriers’ competitive response to the growth of low-cost carrier service in many markets.
While the focus of Frontier and other low-cost carriers is bargain-basement base fares, they also rely on a variety of add-on fees for various amenities to boost their passenger revenues.
But Frontier is not ignoring business travelers – it has a bundled fare category called The Works that includes refundability, a carry-on bag, a checked bag, priority boarding, a waiver of change fees and the best available seat. These fares (which start as low as $59 each way) appeal to business travelers at small or medium sized companies without clout or budget for these extras.
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