UA/DL Frequent Flyer's Review of F9

Discussion in 'Frontier Airlines | EarlyReturns' started by JasonH, Feb 23, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. JasonH
    Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

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    I want to add a bit of content to this forum. So, yes, I flew this in December and I posted it elsewhere, but we need some content here. More content to come.

    First my disclaimer. I only fly non-alliance carriers when I have no choice and usually it is a one-time affair where upon I realize why I fly the Delta's and United's of the world. This was my second round trip on Frontier.

    Mrs. Dagowolf's family insisted that we meet up at her sister's for a family Christmas in Springfield, MO. Of course they waited until the first week of December to tell us [​IMG]. DEN-BKG or DEN-SGF were out of the question. With costs in the $700-900 range it would have been cheaper to fly DEN-IST! Frontier's DEN-MCI beat out UA's offering by several hundred between us, so remembering my less than thrilling experience on a DEN-SFO flight 2 years ago I booked with trepidation.

    DEN-MCI Flight 815 Dec 24
    Leave: 7am ~on-time
    Aircraft: N801FR "Grizwald" A318-111 100% full
    Seats: 18A, 18B
    Arrive: 9:33am Gate 85 ~on-time

    I had printed our boarding passes at work the prior day so we made for the Terminal A bridge. The security was a nightmare on the bridge, so we headed to the opposite side of the terminal where there was virtually no line. cleared security, and walked down to A25. They were boarding the DEN-MSP flight right next door and so the gate area was chaos. The gate staff did a good job of handling the crush of people, especially the seasonal fliers that were confused as to which gate to board at. They did a good job of handling the DYKWIA and other gate lice without some of the attitude you can see with some "gate dragons" over at UA.

    Found our seats easily enough, but my duffel just wasn't going to go into the overhead end-on. Despite being a "Grizzly Bear" Grizwald just isn't voluminous on the inside. Maybe he was just fat for the winter [​IMG] (yes, I know he is a A318 now, but at the time I didn't, he wasn't visible from the terminal and nothing I could quickly see told me that). I put my bag in sideways and the FA was cool with it as she saw me trying to get it in end-on. We soon blasted off into the early morning sky.

    All I wanted from the "famous" F9 IFE was the moving map, but soon the "pay up" message was placed over the map. I'm not paying US$6 to see a moving map and I'm not watching one with wording over it. So I turned it off and fell asleep. Delta has no problem giving you access to the moving map for free. The 'old' United has/had no problem giving you access to Channel 9 (when the captain was so disposed) for free. Both of them tell me where I am and how long I've got. Why is that so hard for F9?

    We landed on time, or nearly so, and taxied to our little slice of MCI. Since we were in no rush we waited to deplane, but that apparently annoyed the FA's since they were doing the cleaning. We were asked to move (politely) a couple of times while I helped my wife get all our things together (Christmas presents... ugh!). I tried to be helpful by setting our seats to the way they were when we boarded, but all I heard from that was a huff from the FA nearby.

    Soon we were on the road to Springfield, MO and my own personal version of hell... Christmas with the Kettles [​IMG]

    MCI-DEN Flight 822 Dec 29
    Leave: sched 6:45am; act ~7:30am ~45 min late
    Aircraft: N949FR "Erma" A319-111 100% full
    Seats: 20E, 20F
    Arrive: ~8:05am Gate 27 ~30 min late

    We arrived very early because we needed boarding passes. Thankfully we didn't have to check bags so we didn't have to stand in a very slow moving line full of grumbling people. The kiosk was quick and we shot through security.

    "Erma" apparently overnighted at MCI and after a short wait we started boarding. By the time all the Elite fliers, no bin space needed fliers (not sure how one person's roll aboard qualified on that one), and other 'special' fliers were on most of the plane was boarded. The agent needed to be forceful and stop a good number of those people. It was almost as bad as when they call the GS/1K fliers at SFO for the SFO-DEN flights only sillier since when I boarded a large number of those overhead bins were bulging with backpacks and other things. They need to enforce the no-overhead policy if they are giving those people pre-boarding.

    We finally boarded (because I follow the boarding rules thank you Mrs "But-My-Family-Is-Already-On-And-You-Shouldn't-Make-Me-Wait" who scolded the gate agent) and found our seats. The FA tried to be helpful, but only managed to annoy me. I don't need directions to my seat, thanks. No, I don't need you to tell me how to stow my stuff. No, I don't need you to show me how to load a duffel into the bin. No, I don't need you to take my coats so you can stuff them on top of my duffel.

    After boarding we waited.... and waited.... and waited.... and waited. No one said anything to us and then suddenly another 10 people board. The FA was livid that we were late and made it known to everyone who was listening. Apparently there was another gate chaos issue that wasn't so well handled as in DEN. With all our new self-loading cargo aboard we sat and waited... and waited... and waited. Finally the captain made a brief announcement that we were waiting on paperwork. When the door closed and we pushed back I don't remember much of the safety briefing. Usually I have to stop and pay attention as the talking makes it hard to concentrate on my book (try reading Foucault's lectures from the French Academy with people talking... I can't do it!), but either they were quiet or it was really fast.

    The flight to DEN was a bit bumpy, but nothing major. The young woman next to me tried three times to pay her US$6 for the IFE, but it never seemed to work for her. We landed in DEN and they announced multiple times that several people had very tight connections and to please remain seated until they were off. We stayed until the very end. Partially because we were in no rush and partially because I wanted to see if the FA's would react the same in DEN as they did at MCI. They didn't, and they even smiled when we deplaned.

    I'm still not sold on the F9 model. The product is okay, but there are some major dislikes. I don't like paying for a moving map (especially US$6) and the lack of Wi-Fi onboard sets them behind not only AirTran, but also Delta. The flight crews are inconsistent; just as they were on my DEN-SFO round trip. The boarding process at MCI was a joke of the worst order. The planes are newer than some of the airframes UA or DL are flying, but I'm not sold on that as a major plus. The route network at least includes some international flying, but that distinction over WN will end soon enough.

    In the end, I'll probably avoid F9 again for awhile and maybe come back in a couple of years to see if things are better.
    Dr Rumack likes this.
  2. Dr Rumack
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    Dr Rumack Silver Member

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    Funny, about the only time I see gate lice on F9 is in DEN. I haven't been through MKE yet, though.
  3. legalalien
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    legalalien Gold Member

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    I must say that my experience with F9 as a UA 1k was a bit more positive that yours. I flew MKE-LAS back in January (F9 479, A319, don't recall which animal was painted on the tail) on a Classic Plus fare. Getting through security was quite painless around noon, and Best Care Club was pretty empty - nice perk of Classic Plus! I had selected 11A in favor of STRETCH seating reasoning that unlimited leg room is better than regular, E+ like seat, and that I won't be watching much TV. Free map (and everything else on TV) is another perk of Classic Plus, but the poor FAs had quite a bit of trouble getting free TV to work for us - their cards seemed to work for a short while, then some people would get the dreaded "Pay Up" message back. Overall, the flight was rather uneventful and the service was professional.

    My verdict: it seems the key to enjoying F9 is to splurge on Classic Plus fare, since it usually does not cost much more than Economy, and is fully refundable.
  4. German Expat
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    German Expat Silver Member

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    I do like F9. It is relative easy to get status and with Summit (really equivalent to Premier on UA because it requires only 25k miles) you do not have any change fees which can be a big plus. You still do have free same day standby. Its kind of the best of both worlds between Southwest (no change fees) and United.
    Stretch is also nice. I don't really watch much TV so for me this is not a big advantage. You also do get free drinks.
    Without status its just another low cost carrier.
    In general the service on board is ok but not great. I never had bad service but rarely anything above and beyond either.

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