Frontier versus Republic (Trip Report)

The contrast between the holiday trek to Indiana this year versus last year couldn’t be greater. Last year we took a redeye out that was severely delayed. This year we took a morning flight that wasn’t. The biggest problem was a grumpy crew on the first flight and a broken TV on the second (with a stellar crew to help on that flight). I’ll take that, though it does highlight the differences between Frontier and Republic despite flying under the same name.

We got to Long Beach Airport an hour early and had plenty of time to spare. Inside, the Frontier folks said our E190 couldn’t fit all the bags so they were looking for people to check bags through all the way to their final destination, not just Denver. Since my wife’s “carry-on” was more like a trunk, we decided to check it.

December 23, 2010
Frontier 1012 Lv Long Beach 650a Arr Denver 1004a
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 22, Runway 30, Depart 2m Late
Denver (DEN): Gate A32, Runway 35L, Arrive 5m Early
N162HL, Embraer E190LR, Midwest colors, 95% Full
Seat 13A
Flight Time 1h56m

Our flight, flown by Republic crews under the Frontier name in Midwest colors, boarded on time as the sun Midwest/Republic/Frontierstarted to peak out over the horizon on the very busy Long Beach ramp. We got on board to find a frowning flight attendant. She wasn’t mean but just looked profoundly unhappy.

After taking our seats, another flight attendant walked by and loudly said my seat number while looking at me. She just kept walking and I never heard anything about it again. Beats me what that was all about.

Once the magical hour of 7a hit, the noise curfew was lifted and we were on our way. The captain turned the seatbelt sign off while it was still choppy and a couple minutes later he turned it back on. Then when it smoothed out, he never turned it back off.

Even though the seatbelt sign was on, I had to use the lav, so I got up and went to the back. Sunrise Over LAIt was smooth at the time but I apologized for having to get up. The flight attendant looked at me and snapped that I had to go back to my seat to wait for the lav to be empty. I understand that at the front of the plane due to cockpit proximity but I’ve never heard that at the back. Sheesh.

I did as she said and waited. Soon after I got back, we were descending into Denver.

It was a rare smooth ride into Denver, and that must have confused the flight attendants. They made the “we’ve begun our approach” announcement when we were actually on final approach. They ran through the cabin Three United Liveriescollecting trash and making people put their seatbacks up and probably just sat down right before landing.

Our connecting gate was right across the crowded concourse, so we went over there and hung out. It was fun to see three United airplanes parked next to each in three different liveries.

A friend who works for Frontier stopped by to say hello and then it was time to board.

December 23, 2010
Frontier 618 Lv Denver 1130a Arr Indianapolis 347p
Denver (DEN): Gate A29, Runway 8, Depart 1m Early
Indianapolis (IND): Gate B15, Runway 5L, Arrive 10m Early
N927FR, Airbus A319-111, Flip the Dolphin, 100% Full
Seat 15A
Flight Time 1h50m

Lots of friendly smiles on this flight to Flip the Dolphingreet us from what looked like a seasoned Frontier crew, including Flip the Dolphin on the tail. I was really excited to watch crappy TV – that’s about all you get around noon on a weekday – but as soon as I got to my seat, I found a blank screen. Damn.

I asked the flight attendant and she said she couldn’t get the TV guys onboard since we were ready to go, but she suggested trying to tilt the screen down and kick the box. I love a little rough repair work, but it didn’t do the trick.

As we were taxiing out, however, it came on. Cool. Then it went off again 5 minutes later. Son of a motherless goat. The TV was taunting me.

Soon we were airborne and the flight attendants came through to give free TV to all kids on the plane. (I guess they’re doing a holiday promo.) I asked if she would give me free TV since the audio Frontier Cabinworked and I could listen even though I couldn’t see. She gladly agreed.

Then they came through with drinks and I had a ginger ale. That was followed by the ghost of Midwest . . . the warm chocolate chip cookie. I love that.

After the service was done, the flight attendant came back to ask if I wanted a cocktail to make up for the broken screen. I had a scotch and soda and listened to stand-up on Comedy Central, which really was a great way to spend the flight. The flight attendants on this leg were just excellent; a huge contrast with the Republic flight attendants on the first flight.

We landed in a cloudy and cold Indianapolis and headed off to spend a long weekend with the family.

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