Is this the Worst Economy Seat Flying? You betcha! Let’s talk about Frontier…
Let’s start off by saying that yes I am a status whore with several carriers, and yes I do enjoy traveling in first class whenever possible. However, I’m also buying my all my own tickets and I have a real price-sensitive side as well. Being based in Denver, I find myself flying on Frontier Airlines quite a bit. The cheap fares are just too irresistible (DEN-LAS round-trip for $40, SOLD!) and they generally get me where I need to go, on time. I’ll have a follow up post that details the nuances of Frontier and how to get the most benefit out of flying them.
For now, let’s focus on Frontier Airlines’ economy seat. In a past life I worked for Frontier. I remember when the ‘new’ Airbus A319 aircraft were being delivered, along with great amenities such as DirecTV, ovens for warm snacks, and comfy green fabric seats.
When things went downhill for Frontier its management scrambled to find all kinds of ways to reduce costs. One of those was the introduction of new green leather seats. They were slimmer than the previous variety, and in my opinion less comfortable, but not terrible by any means.
Fast forward to 2015. Frontier’s new owners are bringing the airline into copycat mode against Spirit and its ULCC model. Now, I HATE Spirit. It’s no secret, the company has active disdain for its customers and it shows in the type of product they have put forth in the market. One of those gems is “pre-reclined” seats. I have flown Spirit before, given them chances (mainly to purge their worthless miles from my account), and they fail miserably each time.
The pre-reclined seats Spirit uses are not half bad actually. They at least have some padding and are tolerable for a couple hours. What is bad, terrible actually, is the amount of seat pitch they provide (28-30″). It’s as bad as it sounds, especially if you have something under your seat.
Frontiers New Seat
Frontier has decided to not just go the pre-reclined seat route, but to take it a huge step in the wrong direction and go with a worse
torture device seat than Spirit. I had the displeasure of flying in this seat bench this past weekend, and it was bad. Very bad.
The main thing you’ll notice right away is how thin the seat is. It literally is just a metal frame with some leather-ish fabric thrown over it. Once you sit in it you quickly realize how little padding there is. Next thing you notice is the tray table. If you want to call it that. It’s literally half the size of regular tray tables found on most airlines. It becomes obvious the clientele Frontier is targeting because it is impossible to fit a laptop computer on the tray. Next on the list of downgrades, no TV screens. Frontier has already stated a while back these were going to be removed going forward to save weight and such, so not surprising. Lastly, in the rows of regular seats the armrest is just laughable. They’ve shortened it (???) and made it thinner. It’s ridiculously small!
Where to sit
On all of Frontier’s aircraft, whether it be an A319 or A320, their exit row is in row 13 (are you feeling unlucky?). On the A320, there is an additional overwing exit, and therefore an additional exit row of seats with extra legroom at row 12. Whatever you do, if you are on a longer Frontier flight DO NOT SIT IN ROW 12! If you look at my picture above you’ll see why. Yes, there is extra legroom, however the ‘pre-reclined’ notion is not present in this row. These seats are upright and cannot be reclined at all. Can you imagine sitting in those for a 3+ hour flight?
Overall, this move is not too surprising, and just be aware of it if you are travelling in the near future on an A320. I do not believe any of their A319 have been converted. For now.