Updated: Oct 12
If you're new here, I got the Frontier Go Wild! Summer pass and used it on 15+ trips this summer (allowing me to save more than $4,000 on flights - read more about it here). I've been getting a lot of comments asking what I thought the pros and cons of the pass were, so here's a blog post just for that! I've separated the post into three categories (and I’ll start with the cons because I know that’s what everyone is really asking about):
Specifically Related to GWP!
Related to Flying Frontier As a Whole
Note: I will refer to the pass as the GWP! for the rest of the post.
Actual Cons (I experienced):
GWP! Availability (in general)
As mentioned here, you can book domestic flights one day in advance, and international flights 10 days in advance. But, not all flights/routes have GWP! availability (and in the beginning, I didn’t really have a way to know for sure if a flight would or won’t)
For example, I was looking at a flight from SEA-DEN for a Sunday or Monday. This flight was not sold out, but I now know that that route is superrrr popular (especially on Sundays). I checked the Frontier website every couple hours and the GWP! availability was NEVER THERE. I checked before the bookable window opened, at the exact time it should have opened, and periodically during the 24 hour period the window should have been open — it never opened!! Some people may have been super freaked out by this and immediately called the pass a scam. I, however, chose to be flexible instead. I looked at all possible destinations I could get to from SEA and found availability to use my GWP! for a seat on the SEA-LAS flight. Because I knew Vegas was a hub for Frontier, I knew I would be able to fly elsewhere from there, so I booked that seat. Crisis averted.
Another example is from later in the summer where I was hoping to get a seat on the new route they launched from St. Maarten (SXM) to Orlando. Because this was an international flight, the bookable window was supposed to open 10 days prior. I checked the site EVERYDAY for availability starting 13 days prior through to the day of, GWP! availability never opened! Now, I had booked my flight to SXM on Spirit for less than $100, so I was covered there. And I booked a backup return flight using my American Airlines miles (which are refundable up to 15 minutes before takeoff). But my plan was to use my GWP! for that return flight from SXM-MCO. I had a feeling that since this was a new route, they wouldn’t open GWP! availability… but they technically never said why it didn’t open (and of course service rep I chatted with had no idea lol). Now this was an instance where I could have been stranded if I was depending solely on the pass, but again, crisis averted.
Note: Late-Summer, Frontier enabled the capability to book GWP! available early (for a fee of course). This fee ranges up to $60 from what I’ve seen, but it gives you peace of mind that you will be able to get home (which is a major concern people have). Because I like saving as much as I can, I haven’t used this feature to buy a flight early yet… but I HAVE found it to be a good indicator of whether or not the flight will have GWP! availability (ie: be $14.91) at the beginning of that “day before” bookable window. What I’ve seen is if it has early booking enabled, you should definitely be able to book it at the regular GWP! price when the window opens; if it does not have early booking enabled, you MAY still be able to book at regular GWP! price when the window opens up (but if it does open, seats will be extremely limited).
GWP! Availability (running out)
I often mention the bookable window because it is a critical thing to know when you’re planning to use your GWP! Once the bookable window opens, everyone with the pass has access to book their seat on the plane. However, what we don’t know is exactly how many seats will be available for GWP! holders. And what I learned was, the number of GWP! seats CAN run out (even if the flight isn’t sold out).
So for instance, once I was planning to fly from PHL-JAX to go home. For context, I live about 2.5hrs from JAX and was going to rent a car to drive home from the airport. Earlier in that week, I had issues getting a last minute car rental from PHL (I prefer corporate rental car companies but shoutout to Turo for coming in clutch); so I didn’t want to book the flight without first confirming that there was a reasonably priced one-way rental available for me. Now I checked availability when the bookable window opened around 2am, GWP! availability was there, bet. But because I was tired and didn’t feel like looking at the rentals at that moment, I just put it off til later. When I woke up around 7am for work, I checked again — GWP! availability still there, perfect. BUT, then I got caught up talking to one of my friends, then catching up with some old colleagues so I didn’t end up booking then. Now, fast forward about 4 hours (now 11am), I remember that I never booked the flight. So I quickly searched for a rental car and found a good deal on the one-way rental (yay, things were lining up perfectly). But then the dreaded words — GWP! Unavailable — popped up when I went to book the flight. I was kinda shocked, kinda not. But that was my first true experience SEEING GWP! availability run out even though the flight itself was not sold out. So note to self: always book at the beginning of the bookable window for highest chance of availability.
Potential Cons (that didn’t bother me, but could deter you):
Limited Direct Routes / Long Layovers
Now I talk about this in my other blog post here, but I’ll talk about it now too since it comes up so often. If you don’t live near a Frontier hub, YOU WILL (likely) HAVE A LAYOVER.
Just like how Delta gives most people layovers in Atlanta and American gives people layovers in CLT/DFW, Frontier uses the same hub and spoke model. They have certain hubs with TONS of flights in/out daily (ie: Orlando (MCO), Philadelphia (PHL), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), etc), and then they have spokes with less availability and sometimes not daily service (ie: Jacksonville (JAX), Norfolk (ORF), Omaha (OMA), etc). If you are near any of the hubs, you will have variety in the number of direct routes you have. If you are NOT near these (or able to get to them easily) — ie: at a spoke — then you will 90% have a layover in one of the hub locations.
This didn’t bother me for two reasons: 1) I had 4 potential airports to fly to/from and 2 of them were hubs, so I had a lot of options for direct flights, and 2) I don’t mind layovers (long or short). Instead I looked at long layovers as an opportunity to see two places in one trip. In Vegas, I went to the strip, had drinks poolside, and played in the casinos; in Denver, I explored nightlife and tried different restaurants. Honestly, no matter how many times I’ve been to a place, there will still be more to see. So with a slight mindset change from “unwanted layover” to “opportunity to explore”, I was able to make the most out of them.
Note: This model is the most common model with almost all major US airlines using it. It matters much for for Frontier, though, because they are a budget airline. This means they have less “extra” planes and less “backup” crew than other airlines. So if your flight is canceled/delayed and you are not at a hub, there is a chance that the next flight out isn’t for a few days.
Last Minute Bookings
First, this pass is for people who can’t and/or don’t want/need to book in advance. It was clearly marketed that way, so if you bought it thinking you would be able to plan weeks in advance, you just didn’t read.
For the best price, you can book your domestic flight one day before and your international flight 10 days before. That’s the terms and conditions I agreed to when I purchased the pass. If you’re not okay with this, then it will be a con for you. It didn’t bother me, however, because 1) it was clearly stated prior to me purchasing, and 2) I was super flexible over the summer.
Note: I am much less flexible now that I’m back in school, so I don’t anticipate using my Fall/Winter nearly as much as I used my Summer Pass — but as long as I at least break even (which I know I will), then it’s still worth it for me.
Yes, it is Frontier. You’ve heard bad things about them, I’ve heard bad things about them, almost everyone has heard bad things about them. Yes, and it all could be true (although it’s not)… but you don’t see any other airline in the states offering anything CLOSE to this. Soooo either you accept it and fly Frontier because this pass is amazing… or you don’t, your choice!
Doesn’t Earn Frontier Miles Towards Status
If you are trying to get Frontier status through flying, this isn’t going to work for you because the flights do not accrue mileage towards status. This wasn’t a game changer for me though because I wasn’t trying to get status with Frontier (American is the airline I focus on getting/keeping status with as of this writing because they’re the main airline flying into/out of my town’s small regional airport). Having status does make flying Frontier more bearable for many (free bags, free seats, priority boarding, etc), but none of those things are make or break for me when flying.
Delays / Cancellations
While using my Summer Pass, I didn’t experience ANY cancellations!🙌🏾 I did experience one major delay (it was 12 hours — they offered me a hotel and meal vouchers, but I opted to reroute to a different airport and they changed my flight free of charge), and 4-6 minor delays (< 4 hours). On the few delays that were more than 3 hours, they provided meal vouchers ($10-$15) and offered me the option to change my flight free of charge. Delays and cancellations can happen with any airline, it’s apart of the traveling via air unfortunately; so while this could be a con for some given Frontier’s limited routes, it didn’t bother me.
No Phone Customer Service
Early 2023, Frontier got rid of their phone customer service and you can only reach them via chat or WhatsApp. I’ve heard it can be quite challenging to get to an actual person when you are using their online check, but I personally haven’t tried to chat online (I always go straight to WhatsApp).
There were only 2-3 times where I actually needed to contact customer service. In all instances, I used WhatsApp and was able to chat with a person pretty quickly. While I get how frustrating it is to only be able to chat with a bot when you just want to talk to a person (have y’all called Xfinity lately???? They are AWFUL with that automated system), I personally didn’t experience any major challenges with them not having a live customer service person. And when I did have to chat with a person, they were minimally helpful (as I would expect from any chat representative lol).
No Free Carry-On Bags
This is something that didn’t bother me because I pack light and use my Takeoff Luggage (which counts as the free personal item included in all tickets). But, I can see where it could be a con for others.
Note: If you have status with Frontier, you get free carry-ons so this wouldn’t matter to you.
No Free Seat Selection
Another thing that I didn’t care about at all (because even though we all hate middle seats, as long as I’m getting there safely I don’t care where I’m sitting). Plus, with the ticket you’re guaranteed A seat, so paying was just unnecessary TO ME.
No Free Snacks/Drinks
I bring my own food and refillable water bottle when I fly, so this doesn’t bother me at all.
Note: I actually opt to buy alcoholic drinks on the plane because they are often cheaper than drinks at the airport ($13-14 for a cocktail on Frontier vs $16-20 sometimes in the airport).
Almost free flights!
I feel like this is the biggest one and it speaks for itself. This pass allows me to fly almost anywhere in the contiguous US for less than $35 each way. Orlando-Boston — $15 each way; Tampa-Denver — $15 each way; Denver-Portland — $15 each way. While Frontier does have sales often that lets you get deals close to the prices, that doesn’t negate the fact that these flights are consistently super cheap.
Explore new (and old) places!
I’m not sure if I ever would have prioritized visiting states like South Dakota and Rhode Island — they both just seemed kinda random to me (and flights didn’t seem to be cheap to get to them). But, because of the pass, I was prompted to explore them (and actually ended up having a blast in both places!). I also got to re-visit places I had already been and use it to travel for family events/celebrations.
Can be combined with Frontier Status
Just last week, I applied and got approved for Frontier 50K status by Status Matching it with my American Airlines Platinum status. 50K comes with a free carryon bag, free stretch seating, and other perks. I can use my status to get free bags/seats on all flights I book using the GWP! which can definitely come in handy. Because I typically travel light, I don’t know how often I’ll use the bag perk, but priority seating and boarding will absolutely be nice.
If these pros outweighed the cons for you and you're still considering the pass, check out my post here on things to think about before purchasing. If you want to see where I went using my pass this summer, check out my summer recap post here. And lastly, if you have more general Go Wild! Pass questions, be sure to check out my FAQ post here.
Ciao for now,