Thursday, 8 August 2019

Flying My 90th Airline with Frontier Airlines (Part 1: LAX-DEN)

Welcome to my 90th airline Trip Report! 


Introduction 

Deciding which new airline to add to my list of airlines flown, the decision was not a difficult one. Initially, I was thinking of American Airlines, flying with this airline on the transpacific route but as I found a better deal with United Airlines, I decided to instead fly American Airlines out of its home base, DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) and fly another airline to Dallas instead. The first airline came into my mind was Frontier. I always wanted to fly this airline since young and whether its the first generation or the current, I need to fly at least once with this airline. The only airline with different animal images on the tail, that makes it stand out from the other airlines, I am amazed at the effort made by the airline as all these cost money. Somehow I hope one day, the customer service matches up to the spectacular livery. 

The reputation of this airline isn't good, but it can't be worse than some of the airlines I flew in Indonesia. 

Let me give you a brief history of Frontier Airlines.


The good old Frontier 



Photo: Arno Janssen


Photo: Peter James Cook

This is the first generation Frontier Airlines, I saw this when I was in the U.S in the 1990s. This airline was a premium airline serving passengers with a full meal and good service. Set up in 1993, this airline existed due to Continental leaving the Denver Stapleton base. Boeing 737-200 aircraft were purchased/leased and later on, the -300 series aircraft were added to the fleet. This airline ordered the A318/A319 combo for fleet expansion and by 1999, it is serving a good number of destinations from Denver hub. This airline took delivery of its first Airbus (319) in 2001 and by 2005, it became a full Airbus fleet. In 2007, it was recognised as a major carrier by the United States of Department of Transport. 

However, good times didn't last for this first generation. In 2008, the airline was forced to declare bankruptcy. However, Republic Airways rescued this airline and did a lot of changes to the company. Fast-forward to October 2013, Republic Airways reached an agreement to sell this airline to Indigo group and in 2014, this airline was to transform into an ultra-low-cost carrier. Changes were made and today the airline is still operating.

This is today's Frontier Airlines 

Airbus A320NEO


Photo: Shattuck Bell

Airbus A320CEO


Photo: Daniel Klein 

Airbus A321 


Photo: Jason Whitebird

Airbus A319 (Old livery)


Photo: Royal S King

The airline will take delivery of A321NEO soon. Meanwhile, the airline's A319 is being sold to American Airlines as it is looking to trim the aircraft types to just two, Airbus A320 and A321.

Airline's mobile app

One bright side about the airline is the app which I find it to be amazing. I like the interface of the app, it is smooth and easy to use. There are many complaints I heard about this airline not giving regular updates regarding the passengers' flights on the mobile app, but to be fair, not many airlines outside of U.S have this feature. Most of the time, we rely on the airport's arrival status on the flights. These days, with technology, we can receive notification from the mobile app and text messages from the airline. 

For me, I use the Flightradar24 to keep track of flights especially when the airline is flying over from its home base. For this case, Frontier is flying the aircraft from Denver, so it is easy to track. This only applies on A to B and B to A routing. Some airlines have their aircraft flying from D-C-B-E-A routing, if that's the case, then you just have to wait for the arrival flight status either on the airline's page or the arrival airport's schedule.


I decided to pay extra for the Works option, gives you a bundle of useful selection for your flight, save you a headache.


This is the advantages of purchasing the Works


Going for the 'A la Carte' option cost more for my flight 


I got to select the better seat on both flights, quite a good deal if you ask me.


Decided to sit just in front of the wing for window shot photos



Once I did the selection, I was ready to go. I was warned about this airline being notorious for flight delay and cancellation. Frontier and Spirit to the consumers are considered to be the worst airlines in the U.S, is Frontier that bad? Let me find out.


This airline has a bigger network than I thought


On the day of departure 

Did a check on my ride, it would be N717FR taking me to DEN




To avoid interaction with the airport staff, you can use the mobile check-in especially if you are travelling without baggage. Skip past the check-in counter and head for TSA security check to the airside.

I managed to enter airside pretty earlier, went around doing some plane spotting at all the terminals. Checking out the interior as well, obviously, Tom Bradley terminal is the nicest of all. 


The mobile app will send you a reminder indicating your presence at the departure airport, it should also list your flight timing to remind you, that would be better.


Welcome to Los Angeles Airport!

This is how massive LAX airport is! 8 terminals altogether.




One day I will fly you, Jetblue!


Frontier Airlines is located at Terminal 5 of Los Angeles. There are so many terminals here but you can catch the free shuttle bus connecting you to all terminals or if you have spare time, you can walk. It's like a U-shape. From one end to the other, it would take around 30 minutes I reckon. 



It showed my flight departing on time, but it wasn't the case later on.



This is Tom Bradley Terminal, I have more photos of it coming soon. 


The arrival hall shares the same compound with the luggage carousel (domestic flights).


My flight was supposed to leave at 10.22 pm from Denver but with a slight delay, it departed 20 minutes later. 



At this time, it has started descending for LAX


Ended up arriving at 12.40 a.m, just 20 minutes before the departure time. 


The announcement was made regarding the delay of our flight, of course, apart from the airport staff, I was probably one of the few who knew what was going on. 



Good varieties of shops available for travellers. Free WiFi is available, the connection is not bad.

This is airside of Terminal 5. The terminals are connected to one another, so you can connect to other terminals without issue.






Passengers for the Frontier flight. It looks like a full flight.


Route: LAX-DEN

Miles: 862


Date of departure: 17 July 2019
Airline: Frontier 
Flight: F9402
Aircraft: Airbus A321 
Registration: N717FR
Route: LAX-DEN
Load: 90%
Departure time: 0059 (0129)
Boarding: 0111
Duration: 1 hour 54 mins
Actual: 1 hour 48 mins
Pushed back: 0150
Take off: 0202
Scheduled arrival: 0422
Actual arrival: 0449
Gate: 56
Departure runway: 25R
Arrival runway: 16L

My ride: N717FR, Airbus A321 

Name: Luna and Lilly the Wolves 
Delivered on 14 Feb 2017
Engines: 2 X CFM56-5B3
Aircraft leased from JSA 
MSN: 7536
Born in Hamburg (XFW)




Photo: Tianyi Liu

Economy Class (With legroom space)

Time to board my first Low-Cost Carrier in the U.S 


Luna and Lilly Wolves will always be in my memory


The standard leather seats found on Low-Cost Carriers



The first row of the Economy Class seats, offering very good legroom space. You have to pay more if you decide to go for the 'Ala Carte' selection.


I love the legroom space 


I suppose this is for you to store your personal items for the flight



Foldable tray - bigger than the airline's standard seat 







Overall, I find the seats comfortable for the short-haul flights. This is something worth paying for especially if you need the space. 


Photos of the standard seat will be on my next trip report.

In-flight service

This flight consisted of 3 male crew and let's put it this way, they behave anything but cabin crew especially one of the male crew who came about berating at a mother who attempted to breastfeed her child. His raised voice at that hour (1 in the morning) had caused quite a bit of unhappiness in the cabin, especially from the husband. Fortunately, that crew calmed down and ended up apologising to them. If there is an issue, you don't raise your voice at anyone unless someone is attempting to do something really stupid. She was just wanting to breastfeed (This is a controversial topic, so I am not going to discuss whether this should be allowed to be done in the cabin) Other than that, it was uneventful. Most of us wanted to rest for the flight duration and I was one of them. 

 From my observation, the captain came on the speaker to announce the flight plan and apologise for the delay. Once we were airborne, I was asleep for the most part and woke up just before we started descending. We landed safely at Denver airport, an airport that is around 5,000 feet from sea level. The flight was smooth though out as we flew through the cloudless night, a perfect evening for flying. Once landed, we had a long taxi to the gate, took around 20 minutes if I am not wrong. Maybe that is why the previous flight of this aircraft arrived at LAX late. Who knows!

I heard that when you make purchases onboard Frontier's flights, is it true that you have to give tips to the cabin crew? I don't even think this should be allowed.

What's inside the seat pocket?



Finally on Frontier's aircraft


Window shot photos

The winglet features the wolves, the ambassador of this aircraft




My Flight Report by Flightradar24


We had a long taxi to our arrival gate


First time in Denver for me 




My rating

Airline's mobile app: 8/10
LAX Airport experience: 7/10
Cabin interior: 7/10
Seat comfort: 8/10
Cabin service: 3/10 
Cleanliness: 5/10
Punctuality: 4/10 
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Overall rating: 52/80

Conclusion

The experience on this first leg was not a surprise to me. After being warned by the folks on Facebook and friends, I kept my expectation low. At least the flights went ahead and not get cancelled, like a couple of days ago. If my flight was cancelled, I would probably have to fork out $$ for another flight if the next available flight with this airline is fully booked. Fortunately, I had a day to spend at DFW and the delay wasn't too bad.

This set of crew seems to forget the job role of the cabin crew and that is to be helpful and courteous towards the passengers. Spending time chit-chatting at the front when the passengers have settled down is not an issue, but at least keep your voice down and from time to time, check the cabin to see if everything is alright.

When the aircraft landed and reached the gate, I didn't hesitate to leave the plane. Usually, I will stick around longer, but seeing this set of crew, I would rather be somewhere else. 

Fortunately, service on my next flight was better, you can check out part 2 over here.


Have a great week!
Charles

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