Frontier, Midwest Confusion (Trip Report)

May has been a really tiring month of travel for me, but the trips have all had good reason. This one was for the Regional Airline Association 2010 convention in Milwaukee. Since I was speaking on a panel, they purchased my tickets for me.

I opted for Long Beach on the way out, but I went for LAX on the way home. The flight via Denver would haveFrontier A318 left at 6a, and I had no interest in a flight THAT early. Instead, I took the nonstop out of Milwaukee an hour later.

As usual, I left home for Long Beach Airport an hour before departure. With only one security gate open, it took about 15 minutes to get through. I then sat for a few minutes before we boarded the rare A318.


May 24, 2010
Frontier 196 Lv Long Beach 645a Arr Denver 1005a
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 22, Runway 30, Depart 2m Early
Denver (DEN): Gate A31, Runway 16R, Arrive 4m Early
N804FR, Airbus A318, Mo & Jo the Red Fox Cubs, ~75% Full
Seat 11F
Flight Time 1h52m

Frontier schedules a 645a departure, but the noise ordinance doesn’t allow a departure until 7a, so we sat at the end of the runway waiting. Once in the air, it was a quick ride over to Denver, helped by LiveTV (yep, $6 from me since this wasn’t a Classic fare). We had one drink service and that was about it until they cleaned up for landing. What were they doing? One flight attendant was in the back playing solitaire on his laptop.

They cleaned up the plane at the top of descent because it was expected to be a rough ride. Boy, was it. Denver had howling 35 kt gusts, but that was nothing compared to our descent over the front range. At one point, we had a good 10 seconds of at least moderate turbulence if not more where people were screaming.

After that, it was just a normal choppy Denver arrival and we taxied to the gate on time. I had a 25 minute connection and with the gate only a couple doors down, it gave me a couple minutes to catch up on email. Soon we were boarding.


May 24, 2010
Frontier 370 Lv Denver 1030a Arr Milwaukee 144p
Denver (DEN): Gate A27, Runway 17L, Depart 3m Early
Milwaukee (MKE): Gate D49, Runway 7R, Arrive 3m Early
N924FR, Airbus A319, Klondike and Snow the Polar Bear Cubs, ~100% Full
Seat 13F
Flight Time 1h53m

We had one of “those” passengers on taxi out who refused to get off her phone. The flight attendant told her once and she hung up. Then she had the nerve to make another call. Since she was in the exit Midwest Cookierow and this happened during the safety briefing, the flight attendant stopped the briefing and said, “we’re waiting for you, ma’am.” She finally hung up, though not after getting some scowls from fellow passengers.

The First Officer warned us that it would be a bumpy climb, but after our roller coaster over the front range, I figured it wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad. I was right.

I paid for LiveTV again, though it made me realize that they could probably do better by doing a connecting flight bundle – $9 for two flights or something like that.

I had my customary ginger ale and was surprised when they also passed out the warm chocolate chip cookies. I guess this was a Midwest flight. Soon enough, it was time to descend.

This was a much nicer Milwaukee experience than my last one in December. I was on my way quickly and hopped on the city bus into town. (I love public transit.) The convention was a good one.

When it was time to come home, I went to check in and found myself in a world of trouble. I had the same confirmation number as my flight out, but the Frontier website didn’t recognize me. I tried multiple times before giving up and calling Frontier.

A nice agent answered and explained that my flight was actually “operated by Frontier for Midwest.” Um, ok. My flight out was operated by Frontier for Frontier I guess, but I didn’t know it. I had to go to Midwest’s MidwestFrontier Confusionwebsite to check-in. Whew. I can’t wait until this integration is complete.

I checked in but since I was on a cheap ticket, no seat was assigned. They assigned me an aisle. Boo. I’m a window guy. And sadly there were no windows left . . . except up front. So I decided to pay $25 for a few extra inches of legroom in the Stretch seating section. I don’t really care about the extra legroom, but it is nice to be able to get out without making the entire row get up.

The next morning, I woke up early, hopped in a cab to the airport, and made my way through security without any trouble.


May 27, 2010
Frontier 960 Lv Milwaukee 705a Arr Los Angeles 919a
Milwaukee (MKE): Gate D43, Runway 25R, Depart 3m Late
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 67B, Runway 25L, Arrive On Time
N936FR, Airbus A319, Earl the Walrus, ~100% Full
Seat 2A, Stretch Seating
Flight Time 3h54m

The flight boarded as before, with people who didn’t have carry-ons going first and then from the back to the front. It seems to me that Stretch seating people should be able to board first as a perk, but instead, they board last.

I did find an overhead bin spot and tookLeaving Clouds Behind my seat with ample legroom. We took off into the morning sky and winged our way to the west coast. TV was free on the flight, because they needed a software upgrade for the system and it hadn’t been given yet. So they aren’t charging people until the plane makes its way to Denver for the upgrade.

I slept a little but not much. The last half of the flight was spent talking to a 20 year captain at Continental. That was an interesting discussion and it made the flight go by very quickly. I did a little work on my computer before being barked at to put my electronics away. (This was before the announcement was even made to put stuff away.) We landed in a surprisingly rainy LA and I headed home.

26 Responses to Frontier, Midwest Confusion (Trip Report)

  1. A says:

    Will the conversation with the Continental Captain be part of a future post? I’d be interested to hear what that conversation was all about.

  2. Nate says:

    We like the idea about bundles/discounts on connecting flights Brett. We’re working on it in fact. You may see it first on LTV3 equipped aircraft though…

    Glad you enjoyed a few LiveTV segments…thanks for your business!

    • CF says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Nate. It would seem that Frontier is the perfect airline for this since they have a lot of 2 hour segments connecting to other 2 hour segments. I’ll keep my eyes open.

  3. Sanjeev M says:

    Yeah, sounds like that Midwest integration needs to happen really soon.

    I still don’t understand why Frontier doesn’t allow you to pick your seat on the Economy fare. Do they allow it 24 hrs before at least? Most of the legacies allow you to do it during booking.

    • CF says:

      They allow you to pick your seat if you buy a Classic or Classic Plus fare. For the cheapies, no seat selection until you check in.

  4. JayB says:

    There are a lot of things to read and see on this internet thing. Maybe a trip from LGB-MKE-LAX isn’t the greatest adventure of this modern world. But, your write-up was great.

    The picture from your seat 2A, for me, highlights the joy of an airline trip: the view of the engine, the wing, the ground below, the clouds, the horizon, the sky, everything making one’s mind wonder. Can anyone look at that view and not feel, at least for a little while, if not longer, much better? [OK, we arrive, and back to reality!] Anyway, thanks!

  5. Who names their Walrus Earl? Earl is not a good Walrus name. Was Wally already taken?

    And now they are having a contest to name their new ‘Badger’ plane. Bella, Buddy and Cookie are the choices that were narrow down to. Buddy Badger sounds the best of the three…..lol

    Having to use two different checkin systems seemed like a pain, you would think that would have been the first thing chanced or crossed referenced internally some how.

  6. Ben says:

    Hearing your experience with live tv makes me think Republic is making a mistake not installing it on the E-Jets. I know they say those are for shorter flights, but a consistent product would go a long way towards distinguishing their brand, especially in Milwaukee, where they are in a dogfight with AirTran right now.

  7. Martín j says:

    Four of my fave irritations illustrated:
    -inability to check in online quickly and or smoothly
    -pax who refuses to obey safety instructions
    -inability to choose seat
    -being grouchily told to shut computer down before announcement- QF seems to go that a lot!

    As for the roller coaster ride bring it on! I had several minutes of very frightened pax on a LAS-SFO flight— I was scared -and I have flown almost a million kilometres!

    Thx for the report.

  8. Jason H says:

    Cranky you were flying the same day I was. That was some crazy wind. My DEN-MCO flight was delayed because they couldn’t bring any ramp equipment close to the sides of the 757 because it was shaking so badly in the wind. Ending up loading baggage with a ladder and catering by hand from the jet bridge. The take off was awesome though.

    • CF says:

      Yeah, I was glad we were flying early because we didn’t have any delays. When we arrived in Milwaukee on time, I noticed that the return to Denver was delayed over an hour because of the ground delay from the wind.

  9. scott says:

    no matter what that continental captain was saying, I can guarantee he was thinking he hopes republic goes out of business and quits dragging down the industry

  10. frank says:

    We had one drink service and that was about it until they cleaned up for landing. What were they doing? One flight attendant was in the back playing solitaire on his laptop.
    =====================================================

    They did what the service called for, a beverage service/optional food for purchase. It’s a two hour flight. That service can be done in probably 45 minutes, tops. What were they doing? enjoying their down-time.

    • b757capt says:

      Enjoying their downtime? You have got to be kidding me. I hope you are still saying this when the airline is in liquidation and your waiting for your unemployment check. Customer Service is a must right now. Is it that much to ask you to collect the trash? Seriously?

      • frank says:

        Who said trash wasnt collected. It’s collected several times throughout the flight. That cups were still out prior to landing is, well, they werent ready to be picked up yet. Maybe? Many people chew on the ice.
        Service was done, AS PER THE COMPANY POLICY. any complaint with that, well, contact management.

      • frank says:

        Hypocrite. I cant tell you how many times I’ve been to the cockpit and you guys are reading the newspaper. I’d say SAFETY trumps Customer service anyday, what’s your excuse?????????????????????

    • Jay says:

      “Downtime”? Were they on break? Were they off the clock? It’s one thing to notice that they did performed the bare minimum, it’s another thing to notice a flight attendant PLAYING (F’N) SOLITAIRE on their computer…..you know, the International Symbol for hating your job. And tacky.

      Seriously, I’m guessing they don’t want to be known for even acceptable service?

      • frank says:

        Were they off the clock? Doesnt matter. The beverage service was performed. Passengers got what the company wanted them to give to you. If you’re calling that bare minimum, well guess what, most flights within the time perimeter give you just that, a drink with the ability to purchase food.
        With duty days exceeding 12 hours, typically, one has to sit down and take a break from the job. Most use that time to eat, read a paper or chat.

    • Bud says:

      My Mother flew from ATL to DEN yesterday on Frontier, and she told me on the phone today she would never fly them again. Why? Because they only had one drink service for the entire flight.

      And I know she means it, too.

  11. David I says:

    I was flying to Denver on the 24th also. That was one good roller coaster, at least some pilots are decent to warn . Same deal next day out of Des Moines in the afternoon. Its thunderstorm time

  12. Hank Scorpio says:

    Next time someone is on their cell phone during the safety briefing please take a photo and post it on CrankyFlier.

  13. Pingback: United-Continental Merger Closing Was the Third Most Interesting Story on Friday - >> The Cranky Flier

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