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.

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