Know before you go.
On Frontier, like with so many low-cost carriers these days, everything is for sale: assigned seats, checked bags, carry-on bags, priority boarding. So you’d be right to want more information about the Colorado-based carrier's baggage fees before booking your tickets.
On Frontier, only one personal item is included in the fare. This, in part, is how Frontier can get away with offering such ridiculously cheap fares and seasonal sales (remember those $15 tickets to Miami and San Francisco?). Since most travelers won’t be able to cram all their belongings into a single 14”-tall backpack, you’ll likely need to purchase a carry-on. Here’s what you need to know before booking.
What’s the deal?
Bag prices at Frontier are not fixed, and fluctuate depending on both when you’re traveling, as well as when you booked. So to spend as little as possible, you’ll need to be upfront with your bag needs. In most cases, a carry-on bag with Frontier costs $30 — as long as you purchase it on Frontier’s website up to 24 hours before departure. (This is true for most airlines.) The minute you start adding bags to your itinerary the day of your flight, prices invariably start to rise. A $30 carry-on will quickly become a $45 carry-on if you wait until the airport kiosk to buy it, and that inflates again to $60 if you’re forced to check it at the departure gate.
The trick to avoiding excess charges when traveling with Frontier is to make sure your carry-on falls within the airline’s size and weight limits (24” high by 16” wide by 10” deep, and less than 35 pounds). If you’re a frequent Frontier flyer, it’s worth investing in a tape measure and scale, to avoid bringing an oversized or overweight bag fees. If you show up at the gate and your carry-on exceeds the aforementioned dimensions, you’ll have to pay — again — to gate-check the bag (that's $60).
It's the same story for checked bags. Frontier rewards those who plan ahead. If you add a checked bag to your itinerary when you're making a booking on Frontier’s website, you’ll pay just $25 (assuming it’s under 50 pounds, and no more than 62 inches long). Once you get stuck paying for that same checked bag at the departure gate, the airline will charge you $60. And if you violate those size and weight limits, that’s another $75 per offense (again, it's a good idea to measure and weigh your bag at home before you depart).
What's the catch?
To complicate things even more, Frontier’s baggage fees also vary by season. Certain times of year are designated “value season,” and can result in a slight $5 decrease in charges. It's wise to check the table of bag fees on Frontier’s website, which is broken down by time of year, before finalizing your travel plans.