Cutting off flight check-in at 60 minutes prior to departure is punitive and will lead to airport chaos, harm against employees, and many angry passengers. On the other hand, it might be that Frontier Airlines has valid grounds for such a change to check-in cutoff…I just wish it would explain them.
Strict New Check-In Cutoff For Frontier Airlines May Be Reasonable, But Will Not End Well
Within broad regulatory confines, Frontier Airlines is free to enact whatever customer-unfriendly policies it wants. In other words, if it wants to dig it own grave it is welcome to.
But its announcement that it will cut off check-in at 60 minutes prior to departure as of August 16, 2023 strikes me as the sort of “solution” that will only make the problem worse. And yet I am not sure…and therefore my initial concern is more with the way Frontier has communicated this new policy than the policy itself.
Since checked baggage costs less than carry-on bags, many Frontier customers choose to check bags. Currently, you must check your bags in between two hours and 45 minutes prior to your flight. With the new policy, passengers must check-in (whcih can easily be done online) or check baggage (which of course cannot not be
Frontier Airlines gave no justification for its new policy.
Important info for your next flight. 👇
Starting August 16th, all Frontier ticket counters will close for check-in and bag drop 60 minutes (previously 45 minutes) prior to your flight departure. We continue to be committed to getting you and your bags to your destination… pic.twitter.com/8SBbcVqHse
— Frontier Airlines (@FlyFrontier) August 2, 2023
First, let’s look at the potential upside to this.
It could be that there were simply too many passengers showing up at the last minute, creating a bottleneck that delayed flights or led to confrontation at check-in counters.
Futhemore, perhaps there was simply not enough time in some airports for people to drop their bags off and then proceed through a long security line in a timely fashion to make their flights (Denver comes to mind).
I suppose at certain line stations the 60-minute cutoff would allow the same agents to work the counter and then work the gate, which saves on labor costs. It is not unreasonable to want to reduce labor expenses in order to keep ticket prices low.
On the other hand, it could just as likely be that Frontier wants more people to miss their flights so they have to buy expensive new walk-up tickets. After all, the entire business model is based upon upselling airfare via ancillary fees. You may think that is far-fetched, but this is from the airline that has baggage sizers at airports that are smaller than the dimensions printed online.
Whether justified or not, I do not foresee this policy change ending well. Perhaps this new rule will not be strictly enforced, but if it is I expect to be covering a lot more incidents of naughty passengers at the Frontier Airlines check-in counter in the weeks ahead.
A Slew Of Lawsuits On The Horizon For Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines already faces a class action lawsuit for its airport baggage sizers, which apparently are smaller than the dimensions online.
Other lawsuits are on the horizon (such as the lack of availability for its unlimited flying passes) and this check-in issue could be one too, as it defies consumer expectations and could implicate contractual concerns if it is retroactively applied to tickets purchased before this annoumcenet.
I think the bottom line with Frontier Airlines is that you do have the possibility to save a lot of money if you travel with only a small personal item and bring your own food and drink onboard.
But if you want the full service experience like a carry-on and checked bags, there is a decent chance you will end up paying for for your all-in air travel than on a full-service legacy carrier.
Frontier Airlines is enacting a strict new 60-minute check-in and baggage cutoff later this month. It is not clear what prompted this policy change nor is yet clear if the change is reasonable.
But reasonable or not, I predict it will not end well for Frontier Airlines, with a lot of angry customers denied boarding at check-in for showing up 55 minutes early to drop their bag off.
How do you think the new Frontier Airlines check-in policy will work out?
image: Frontier Airlines