Bargain hunters could find themselves paying more to fly after Frontier Airlines, a low-cost carrier, on Monday said it would start charging extra for carry-on bags.
The Denver-based carrier said it simplified its price structure and cut its lowest economy fares by 12 percent. But customers taking advantage of the lower fares will now pay $20 to $50 more for a carry-on bag to store in the overhead bin, depending on whether the traveler books online or pays at the gate. Customers can carry on one personal item at no charge.
Prior to Monday's announcement, Frontier charged a carry-on fee for consumers who purchased on third-party websites.
Those who buy an economy fare will also have to pay additional fees for seats near the front of the plane and with more leg room. Those charges start at $3.
The new fees are "very consumer unfriendly no matter how they try to spin it," said Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com, a website that focuses on frequent-flier issues. "Booking Frontier is likely going to cost you more."
Frontier travelers who buy the fully refundable and higher-cost Classic Plus fares are allowed one free carry-on and one free checked bag and also incur no seat fees.
Frontier, which flies to more than 75 cities in the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Mexico, said in a statement that the "unbundled" economy airfare will allow customers to save by paying only for services they want.
In making the changes, Frontier is taking a page from Spirit Airlines (SAVE.O), the Miramar, Florida-based carrier known for low base fares and extra charges for many other options.
Denver-based Frontier was purchased from Republic Airways Holdings RJET.O last year by private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC, whose co-founder William Franke is a former Spirit Airlines chairman. Last week, Frontier said Barry Biffle, a former executive vice president of Spirit, had been named its president.
"Spirit is known as an airline that will nickel-and-dime you and they're proud of it," Kelly said. "Frontier is not."
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Diane Craft)