Fly With Frontier vs. Spirit Airlines: My Verdict

Fly With Frontier vs. Spirit Airlines

Choosing between Frontier Airlines vs. Spirit Airlines for budget travel?

In this article, we are going to talk about the many ways these two airline carriers are very similar, but in the end, one of them will reign on top.

I will be comparing things such as: pricing and fare options, bag policies, route networks, delays and cancellations, check in and boarding process, to name a few.

If you are looking for a way to fly on a budget, both of these airlines could be your go-to.


  • Both airlines excel in offering similar budget-friendly fares.
  • Frontier boasts a wider network with more destinations served.
  • Spirit stands out with Wi-Fi availability on most of its fleet, for an added fee.
  • Spirit offers larger “Big Front Seats” for those desiring extra space (paid).
  • Both airlines provide a comparable in-flight experience with regard to ticket prices, fees, and basic amenities.

Company Profile

Frontier Airlines Overview

Founding (1994):

Frontier Airlines was established in 1994 as a low-cost carrier, originating in Denver, Colorado, USA.


Frontier Airlines is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, USA.


The airline operates its primary hub at Denver International Airport, facilitating efficient connectivity and operations.

Focus Cities:

Frontier Airlines has established focus cities at Trenton-Mercer Airport, Orlando International Airport, and McCarran International Airport.

Fleet (135 in service):

Frontier Airlines operates a fleet primarily composed of Airbus aircraft, with a focus on the A320 family. This fleet choice aligns with the airline’s commitment to operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Ultra-Low-Cost Model:

Frontier Airlines is recognized for its no-frills, ultra-low-cost business model. The airline offers passengers affordable base fares, with the option to choose and pay for additional services based on individual preferences.

Domestic and International Network:

Frontier Airlines serves a mix of 94 domestic as well as North America, Central America and Caribbean destinations.


Frontier Airlines’ evolution from a conventional low-cost carrier to an ultra-low-cost carrier reflects the dynamic nature of the airline industry. This adaptation aligns with changing market demands and the evolving preferences of passengers seeking more economical travel alternatives.


3.33 billion (2022)

📝 Note: I actually started my aviation career, as a Flight Attendant, with Frontier Airlines, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I had an amazing time working for them, the crews truly are some of the best out there. They have one of the newest fleets in the industry, all Airbus, with new aircraft utilizing engines that are fuel efficient. They have bases around the country, with a few new ones about to open.

Spirit Airlines Overview

Founding (1980):

Spirit Airlines originated in 1980 as Charter One, founded by Ned Homfeld. Initially specializing in charter flights to destinations like Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and the Bahamas.

Transition to Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier:

In 1992, Spirit Airlines underwent a pivotal shift, rebranding itself and embracing the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) model. This marked a departure from traditional airline services, focusing on providing affordable base fares with optional add-ons.

Bankruptcy and Restructuring (2005-2006):

Faced with financial challenges, Spirit Airlines filed for bankruptcy in 2005. Following a successful restructuring process, the airline emerged from bankruptcy in 2006, solidifying its commitment to the ULCC business model.


Spirit Airlines is headquartered in Miramar, Florida, USA.


The airline operates a hub at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Focus Cities:

Spirit Airlines has established focus cities at various locations, including Atlantic City International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and McCarran International Airport.

Fleet (157 in service):

Spirit Airlines maintains a fleet primarily composed of Airbus aircraft, with a focus on the A320 family. This fleet choice aligns with the airline’s operational efficiency and contributes to its cost-effective business model.

Ultra-Low-Cost Model:

Spirit Airlines is renowned for its ultra-low-cost business model. The airline is characterized by affordable base fares, with passengers having the option to select and pay for additional services according to their preferences.

Domestic and International Network:

Spirit Airlines serves a mix of 67 domestic and select international destinations, connecting travelers to various cities in North America, Central America and the Caribbeans.


Like many successful carriers, Spirit Airlines adapted its business model over the years. Starting as Charter One, it evolved into an ultra-low-cost carrier, responding to market dynamics and customer demands for more cost-effective travel options.

Revenue :

5.07 billion (2022)

➡️ Company Profile: the Verdict

Fleet size, revenue, bases, etc. are all very similar to Frontier Airlines. They also utilize an Airbus fleet.

The only difference you will really see with their profiles, at this point, is Spirit has been purchased by JetBlue Airlines. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block the deal. A merger between these two airlines would drastically impact their profile and what they will be offering to the general public.

Pricing and Fare Options

Discounts and Promotions

Although both Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines have similar fare options, it is imperative to look at the discounts they are advertising.

Especially Frontier, who even has a current option to buy a yearly pass for less than 600$. 

Of course, you need to read the fine print, but Frontier is always advertising some amazing deals.

A La Carte Pricing Models

Both Spirit and Frontier Airlines utilize a la carte pricing models, you will have to pay more for your reserved seats, baggage, soft drinks.

➡️ Pricing and Fare Options: the Verdict

When it comes to the comparison between the two, I honestly would say they are tied.

They also both have bundle options, where when you sign-up it would give you bundle options to make your ticket less expensive. This is a great option if you fly frequently.

You will definitely want to base your decision on which airline happens to be cheaper, for the destination you are trying to fly to, as well as, where you will be flying out of.

If the airport you fly out of only has Spirit, then you can go ahead and utilize them vs. Frontier. Or, vice versa.

Bag Policy

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines does charge for both carry-ons and checked bags.

Any checked item weighing over 40 lbs. will incur additional charges. One personal item, such as a purse or small backpack, that fits within their smaller sizer box dimensions (8”D x 18”W x 14”H) is included with your ticket.

Spirit bag prices

This is an example of how much a carry-on and checked bag would cost for a trip from New York to Los Angeles on November 23rd, 2023:

Here is an example of how much a carry-on and checked bag would be for a trip from Miami to Las Vegas on November 24, 2023:

Keep in mind that prices can vary, so use Spirit’s bag price calculator on their website for accurate pricing. It’s the best way to get precise cost information.


Personal Item:

  • Cannot exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches including the handles and wheels.

Carry-on Bag:

  • Cannot exceed 22 x 18 x 10 inches including handles and wheels

Checked Bags:

  • Maximum of 62 linear inches including handles and wheels, with a max of 40 lbs. Anything over this will have added fees.
    • 41-50 lbs. +79$
    • 51-100 lbs. +125$
    • 63-80 linear inches +150$
    • Special items over 80 linear inches +150$
    • Sporting equipment all has added prices
  • Unable to accept any bags that go over 100 lbs.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines also charges for carry-on and checked bags. With Frontier, you most definitely want to purchase what you need when booking. They charge exponentially more if you have to pay at the airport. Make sure your items fit these dimensions, they will check.

Frontier Airlines bag prices

For a more accurate price, use their bag price checker by entering your flight details


Personal Item:

  • 14”H x 18” W x 8” D including handles, wheels and straps


  • 24” H x 16” W x 10” D and less than 35 lbs. including handles, wheels and straps
  • This is included when you purchase the WORKS. A bundle they offer, which I personally think is worth it.

Checked Bag:

  • 62 linear inches and less than 40 lbs.
  • This would also be included in the WORKS bundle

Oversized Checked Bag:

  • +75$ per bag, per direction

Overweight Checked Bags:

  • +50-100$ per bag, per direction

➡️ Bag Policy: the Verdict

Either airline can really get you when it comes to these bag prices. Once again, I would say they are extremely comparable.

A la carte has the potential to be extremely cheap, if you do it right, or purchase a bundle, but if you don’t really pay attention, your fare could get extremely pricy.

This one is also a tie for me.

Route Networks

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines primarily serve flights throughout the United States, with both carriers also having international destinations you can choose from.

Frontier Airlines offers over 1,000 destinations in the United States and 570 routes to 9 different countries. This is expanding with new routes announced routinely. You can find a list of all destinations here.

Spirit Airlines offers 47 domestic destinations and 28 international destinations. You can check the full list on their route map here.”

➡️ Route Networks: the Verdict

In this case, Frontier is winning with the domestic routes, but Spirit has significantly more international destinations, which will drastically increase, if JetBlue is able to merge with Spirit.

Delays and Cancellations 

Delays and cancellations can be tricky in the airline industry.

It is really going to depend on what happened in the specific situation. If a delay, or cancellation, is due to weather, you really aren’t going to be accommodated. Both airlines will do what they can, to put you on another flight, which could mean you get rerouted to another base, and then on to your final destination. Or, you could have to wait until they have another flight, which could be days.

Frontier states that they do not offer compensation for uncontrollable events. However, if your flight is canceled or delayed in excess of 3 hours, they will provide you, upon request, a full refund of any unused portion of your ticket. Unfortunately, they got rid of a customer service line that you can call in and get help. They now have a chat option, which is truthfully horrible. You would want to get this taken care of, at the airport.

Spirit Airlines has a similar policy and will work with you to find alternate routes to get you to your destination. They may also refund you, or provide a credit. At least they have a number you can call to get assistance from a customer service executive.

➡️ Delays and Cancellations: the Verdict

Spirit takes the lead when it comes to delays and cancellations. Simply due to the fact that they actually have a number you can call in and gain some assistance.

Frontier, you would have to talk to someone at the airport, or try to utilize the chat option they have on their website.

Check-in & Boarding Process

Frontier Airlines Check-in & Boarding Process

Check-In Process: 

  • Boarding pass and checked bags must be processed 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • If you did not purchase an assigned seat, you will be randomly assigned one
  • Mobile and web check-in also ends 60 minutes prior to departure
  • You will want to get to the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure
  • 30 minutes prior you should be at your gate
  • 15 minutes before the flight, the doors will close
  • If traveling internationally make sure you have all documents needed

Boarding Process: 

  • Passengers with special needs will check-in with an agent at the gate
  • Zone 1: Passengers who purchased a carry-on bag, a bundle, or Elite-level members
  • Courtesy Boarding: Families with small children (under 3 years old), any passenger requiring additional time, or assistance
  • Zones 2, 3, and 4: These will be called in order

Spirit Airlines Check-in & Boarding Process

Check-In Process

  • Same process as Frontiers mentioned above

Boarding Process: 

  • Preboarding for anyone needing special assistance
  • Zone 1: Gold elite members
  • Zone 2: Silver elite members, purchased shortcut boarding, purchased a checked bag, co-branded credit card holders
  • Zone 3: Passengers sitting at the rear of the plane
  • Zone 4: Passengers sitting at the front of the plane

➡️ Check-in & Boarding Process: the Verdict

Both airlines are very similar when it comes to their check-in and boarding processes. Either option is good.


Frontier Inflight Services

  • Bundled snack and drinks for purchase
  • Single items for purchase
  • Alcohol for purchase
  • They do not have inflight entertainment, or internet. You will need to download whatever you would like to watch, on your personal device, before departing.

 Spirit Inflight Services

  • There are no complimentary drinks provided. Everything will need to be purchased.
  • Spirit does have the ability to purchase internet for your flight

➡️ Amenities: the Verdict

Once again, they are very similar, but Spirit does have the ability to purchase Wi-Fi on your flight, which is something that many people are willing to pay for. Frontier just doesn’t have this as an option.


Both Frontier and Spirit Airlines have pre-reclined seats, with less padding than you will find on other airlines.

Spirit does have seats at the front of the plane, which are bigger than some of the other seats, but you are going to pay more for these.

Frontier’s seats are all the same. If you want more leg space, you would want to choose a seat in the exit row.

However, you have to be willing, and able, to assist in an emergency evacuation. Both Frontier and Spirit have an all-Airbus fleet, so the configuration of the cabin is going to be almost identical.

For seat selection, Frontier charges from $11 per passenger, per flight segment (Non-Refundable). On the other hand, Spirit’s seat assignments start at just $5 per seat and vary based on the route and location within the aircraft.

➡️ Seats: the Verdict

In the comparison of seating between Frontier and Spirit Airlines, both offer similar pre-reclined seats with minimal padding. However, Spirit Airlines takes a slight lead due to its “Big Front Seats,” which offer additional space for an extra fee, a feature not available with Frontier.

Loyalty Programs and Benefits

Frontier Airlines Loyalty Programs and Benefits

  • Called Frontier Miles
  • 1 mile flown = 1 mile earned
  • Free to sign up
  • Elite Status
    • Elite 20K: Carry-on, Seat Assignment, Family pooling, Priority Boarding, Waived redemption fees, Last seat availability, Stretch seating at check-in
    • Elite 50K: Carry-on, Seat Assignment, Family Pooling, Priority Boarding, Waived redemption fees, Last Seat availability, Stretch seating, Family seating, Discount Den membership-50% off, Mileage multiplier-1.25x
    • Elite 100K: Carry-on, Seat Assignment, Family pooling, Priority boarding, Waived redemption fees, Last seat availability, Stretch seating, Family seating, Discount Den Membership, Mileage multiplier-1.5x, Checked bag, Family Status (the works bundle)
  • Can use your miles:
    • Flights (starting at 10,000 miles)
    • Partners
    • Hotels

Spirit Airlines Loyalty Programs and Benefits

  • Free to join
  • You earn points for every purchase with Spirit and select partners
  • Members get up to 12 points on every dollar spent
  • Point redemption starting at 2,500
  • Can combine points with cash
  • Points don’t expire, as long as you continue to earn/redeem with Spirit or with Free Spirit partners within a 12-month period
  • Earn 6x points on flights (up to 12x for Gold members)
  • Earn 10x points with A La Carte options
  • Earn points on every purchase with the Free Spirit Credit Card
  • Earn 10x points through select partner products and services
  • Gold member: 10x per dollar on fares, Host a points pool, Dedicated guest care support, Redemption fee waiver, Exit row seat assignment, Shortcut boarding, Shortcut security, Same day standby, Overweight baggage fee waiver, Free checked bag, Free carry-on bag, Free drink and snack onboard, Zone 1 boarding, Free flight flex, Pet fee waiver, Group 2/3/4/5 seat selection at purchase
  • Silver Member: 8x per dollar on fares, 16x per dollar on ancillary purchases, Host a points pool, Dedicated guest care support, Redemption fee waiver, Exit row seat assignment, Shortcut boarding, Shortcut security, Same day standby, Overweight baggage fee waiver

➡️ Loyalty Programs and Benefits: the Verdict

Honestly, this one also goes to Spirit. You are able to use their points to gain a gold membership, which has a lot of perks. You are getting more for your dollar when you are utilizing their free membership.

Conclusion: is Frontier Airlines or Spirit Airlines Better?

Frontier and Spirit are honestly so similar, that it’s really hard to say which one is better. All of us have our own priorities and hopefully what was listed above, will help you make a decision in this regard.

I personally choose Frontier Airlines when I have an option to purchase a ticket, simply because they are usually the cheapest option out of Denver.

Spirit doesn’t have as many flights where I am located, and have recently announced they are no longer going to be servicing Denver, CO.

When directing friends/family to an airline, I am quick to say Frontier. I have had an amazing experience working for them, as well as anytime I have flown as a paying customer. I know that they are going to treat me like family.

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