Frontier Wins, Midwest Dies, the Cookie Lives

Frontier, Mergers/Finance, Midwest Airlines

Republic has made its branding decision. Fortunately, Frontier lives and Midwest dies. Midwest was kind of like your great, great uncle who has been barely hanging on with life support for a long time. The brand had deteriorated to the point of being unrecognizable, so it was time to pull the plug.

Frontier Wins, Midwest Dies

Last week, I wrote this over on BNET:

So if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Frontier surviving, taking only the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie from Midwest. And that would be the right move.

I’m very glad to hear that they’ve listened to me. Actually, I’m just glad that CEO Bryan Bedford made the right decision here. I wasn’t so sure that would be the case.

Frontier will be the surviving brand, and the livery and logo won’t be changing. That’s good, because major brand changes can cost a lot of money. They’ll avoid many of those issues by sticking with what they’ve got. The only thing that will be kept from Midwest? The cookie. Once the transition is complete, you’ll get a cookie on every flight.

And when will that transition be complete? Thanks to an incredibly simple and completely unnecessary graphic that was likely created by some former consultant, we know that the operational integration will be complete by November with branding completely done by October 2011. You can follow along at the new website, Seriously. Kind of funny that their killing off the Midwest name yet they stuck it in the transition url, huh?

What else do we know about this deal? Well, all planes will be painted in Frontier colors and they’ll get their own animal tails. The first one to get painted will arrive by the end of April and it will appropriately be painted up with a badger. The badger is the state animal of Wisconsin and mascot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. People in Wisconsin will get to name the badger. It’s a nice gesture.

More importantly, the customer experience will start becoming more consistent here. In the media kit, the FAQ talks about Frontier’s plans for inflight entertainment.

The TVs installed in our Airbus fleet will stay. We are still exploring other in-flight entertainment options and plan to have some form available in each of our aircraft by 2011.

I’m glad to see the TVs sticking around, but I’m wondering what’s coming on the rest of the fleet. I would hope that they’d put TVs on their Embraer 170/190 fleet since those go pretty long distances. But the way this is worded makes me think that their version of inflight entertainment may very well just end up being inflight internet. We’ll have to see.

In the end, this branding decision isn’t big news. It’s exactly what was expected and it’s the right thing to do. The big news is that the team at Republic made the right decision. That’s good to see.

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23 comments on “Frontier Wins, Midwest Dies, the Cookie Lives

    1. What I’ve read locally is that DEN and MKE will remain hubs. They’re re-investing in MCI after Midwest had pulled many of their flights out over the years of consolidation, but I think it’s a stretch to call it a “hub” — focus city, perhaps? Cranky may know more.

    2. Nothing is changing from a route perspective, at least not as a result of this announcement. It’s just a branding exercise that will standardize the product as well.

  1. I’m glad the animal tails are staying, they are to unique to do away with. If they wanted to stay big in Denver they needed to keep the Frontier name which I think is better known then the name Midwest.

    1. This is exactly true. Being from Wisconsin but now living in Colorado, Midwest used to have significant mindshare back home, but has lost most of it in the years of cutbacks, mergers and bankruptcies. Plus they never really spread that brand awareness beyond Wisconsin. Although they’re still dominant at MKE, it’s just barely (34% of flights compared to AirTran’s 30% were the last numbers I saw. At one point 1 out of every 2 flights out of MKE was Midwest).

      Frontier is still very strong in Colorado, though, and their market presence and overall brand awareness dwarfs even the Midwest of yore. I continue to be amused that Southwest seems permanently stuck in the number 3 position at DEN despite an obnoxious level of marketing and astroturfing poured into local media.

      I could’ve seen some sort of hybrid brand (“MidFrontier”?) but, as Cranky alludes, not sure it would’ve been worth the expense.

  2. Republic is taking a few more things from Midwest besides the cookie. The “Best Care in the Air” slogan will be retained and a Best Care Club will be opened in DEN as well. The Best Care Club in MKE is pretty nice as far as domestic lounges go and I hope the one in DEN will be similar.

    1. Ah, fair enough. I believe the new Denver Best Care Club will be where the old Continental Presidents Club was. They just vacated it to join with United.

  3. RIP Midwest. You provided some excellent flying experiences for me.

    We shall never see an airline like Midwest ever again….

  4. I never understood the big deal about a cookie. So what? It’s not like the F/A’s creamed a pound of butter, sifted the flour, sugar, and such. Wasn’t it pretty the equivalant of slicing a roll of cookie dough or whatever and sticking it in the onboard oven? Was it because it was in the air? Who knows. People are funny over what they get enthused about.

    1. @Katie, I agree with you, it’s pretty simple and in many ways not a big deal. Then again, if it’s so simple and not a big deal why aren’t others doing it?

  5. Being born and raised in Milwaukee, I’ve come to know Midwest as king. Over the years the cold hard realities of airline economics took its toll on this wonderful airline. I’m glad to be able to say that I’ve flown them many times and never had a bad experience. As stated, they aren’t the same anymore, so I’m glad to see the Frontier brand carry on. Maybe I’ll be on the Badger in a couple weeks when flying to MSN!

  6. The cookie lives until they decide it’s too expensive.
    Then they remove the ovens to save weight, and charge for the individually wrapped cookies…oh, AA already did that (in coach).

  7. Too bad Frontier service is atrocious. I’ve never seen such a rude and unhappy group of airline employees–on the ground, anyway. The flight attendants were Midwest folks, and they were fine. I’ll look for other airlines from now on.

    1. There aren’t any Midwest folks any more. Some flight attendants have been hired on at the bottom of the seniority list with Chautauqua but Midwest has no airplanes.

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