Flying Frontier soon? Make sure you check in online – or get to the airport much earlier if you need a boarding pass or have to check a bag.
In social media announcement on Tuesday, Frontier Airlines said it will soon close its check-in counters and bag drop areas one hour before the scheduled departure of each flight. That new policy takes effect Aug. 16. Showing up too late likely means you'll simply miss the flight.
“We continue to be committed to getting you and your bags to your destination without interruption,” Frontier said in the tweet announcing the policy change. The airline has not explained the policy change any further.
That will force Frontier flyers to get to the airport sooner than most major U.S. airlines, most of which won't allow check-ins about 30 minutes before departure and stop checking bags 45 minutes before domestic flights. And unlike those airlines, that check-in window closes an hour ahead of departure regardless of whether you're checking a bag or just trying to check in for the flight.
It's just another reason to check in for your Frontier flight online or via the airline's smartphone app. Unless you qualify for an exemption, the airline charges $25 each way for “airport agent assistance” to check in at the airport.
What's driving this change? The same thing that drives Frontier and other budget airlines: Cutting costs.
By shifting agents away from check-in desks earlier, they can cut down on staffing. It could also help ensure Frontier gets bags loaded onto planes more reliably.
It's just Frontier's latest cut to customer support. Late last year, the airline ended its customer service phone line altogether: Email, live chat, and social media are now the only ways for customers to reach Frontier and get help.
But Frontier's flight network makes it well-positioned for this kind of policy change.
For one, Frontier doesn't operate many “hubs” with many flights coming and going all day long, which means they don't need employees at check-in desks all day long, either. At our home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), for instance, there are typically only two or three outbound Frontier flights per day.
If you need to check a bag before your upcoming Frontier flight, you might need to get to the airport a little earlier. And if you need a paper boarding pass, you'll need to get there earlier, too.
Starting Aug 16, Frontier will close its check-in and bag drop counters one hour prior to departure, the earliest pre-departure closure among the U.S. airlines.