Frontier versus Republic (Trip Report)

Frontier, Trip Reports

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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14 comments on “Frontier versus Republic (Trip Report)

  1. “””””but she suggested trying to tilt the screen down and kick the box.”””””

    Myself, I call a hammer the all purpose tool. To bad you can’t take one with you….LOL

    You should have asked that first F/A why she was unhappy. Sometimes that ‘shocks’ people out of a look/mood they didn’t know they were showing.

      1. but sometimes you need to get people to realize they aren’t in character. When we were setting up Mokulele for the jet launch, I stressed in my classes to “remember, working for an airline puts you on a stage, and think of your job – just like an actor – that everyone is always watching you. Do your best to always remain in character, as our audience (or passengers) are our lifeblood!.”

        1. Travelnate, that is so true. I’ve always worked with the thought that someone is paying you to do a job so you should do the best you can no matter how much you may hate that job. If you are going to be a front line person working with the public you have to put your best foot forward.

          If you work at a call center, your voice is your ‘on stage’, you can make all the faces at the phone you want since they can’t see you, but your voice must shine.

          Sadly in this day and age, rudeness on both sides is becoming the norm.

    1. It wasn’t even 7a yet and it was a full flight. I’m sure the last thing she would have wanted was for me to stop and chat in the doorway while the line backed up. Besides, I was half asleep myself. But it’s true, she may not have known how she looked.

      1. I didn’t mean to have a long conversation with her about what’s happening in her life. But a quick ‘why’ type comment can snap people out of it and get them to think about how they are coming across to people.

        You wouldn’t want to say “Hey smile I pay your salary” even if that is what you are thinking.

  2. Surprising how full Frontier/Republic (Embraers are Republic, Airbuses are Frontier I guess) planes have been recently. Last flight (AUS-DEN) I was on was so full I couldn’t pick my seat at all as a lowly economy ticket holder…but that was okay. They put me in the Stretch Seating area for free.

    Flight crews have been fine on DEN-SAT and DEN-AUS as far as I remember, though DEN-SAT (and back) are now served by Embraer jets rather than the Airbuses that used to fly there. Smaller plane, no TV screen (not that I use it anyway) but at least there might be WiFi sooner…

  3. Being from Milwaukee, I have lived through all of this. They still haven’t combined my Midwest and Frontier frequent flyer accounts yet. Oh well. But I will tell you, this airline has great perks for Frequent Flyers. Selected stretch seating at reservation and FULL CREDIT on unused tickets (but no refunds).

    I had the opportunity to meet Brian Bedford at the Best Care club in Milwaukee after I had sent a scathing letter to Republic (Jim Reichert) on the fact that no one was informed when routes were canceled. We were just left holding tickets and had to rebook on our own (MKE-ATL was dumped, and DEN-BOI is now seasonal only). To make it worse, the call wait times exceeded 45 minutes! (Hey guys, add a few more call center staff!)

    Yes, it is a “whole different animal”, but most of the time, it isn’t different ENOUGH. I do like Chautauqua Airlines and the ERJs for commuter flights. However, its interesting that they seem to operate on time out of MKE but this same company has real on time problems when flying as American Connection. Maybe it is ORD.

    Side note:
    Condolences to all who are stuck in the Northeast, and all who use Continental and their horrible hub Newark. How can the new United ever expect to operate realistically on time with an ORD and a EWR hub?

  4. I’m not sure if it’s a regional/mainline thing. I know that Frontier/Republic is blurring this line.

    However, I’ve never had problems with F/A’s on United or Delta, so maybe age does matter. As a regional, Republic has some younger FA’s and I’m sure the 650am departure didn’t help either. I wish all airlines followed the Turkish Airlines model of having their workers attend a seminar every month.

    1. I think it’s a pay issue more than anything. Flight crews on Frontier get paid more, and that generally gets a higher caliber employee.

  5. Unless I’m sure I’m getting an actual Frontier managed flight (i.e. Frontier crew), I won’t fly Midwest/Frontier anymore. The former Midwest and Republic agents and crew are downright nasty (both at checkin, the gate and on the plane). Republic flown flights are by far the worst. I did a leg between MKE and RDU recently and the outbound was flown by a Republic plane and crew and despite the nice weather, light load of the plane, etc, the crew was rude and indifferent. The return flight was handled by a Midwest that was nominally better.
    I was a major fan of Midwest before the beginnings of the end in 2008 (especially their business class style accommodations). They were always friendly and helpful. These days, it reminds me of the nasty treatment that made me stop flying Northwest. I hope the Frontier mindset (or the old Midwest) takes over. I realize these people are struggling, but they ought realize that they are lucky their airlines didn’t simply disappear.

  6. Do you think your friend who works for Frontier alerted the crew “the press” was on board and the extra courtesies were extended accordingly?

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