It’s a been a little while since I’ve posted something here, but it was just a few days ago that the bidding war for bankrupt Frontier Airlines ended with Republic Airways as victorious, despite the highly profitable Southwest Airlines vying to win. Southwest Airlines was mainly seeking to improve its stronghold on the Denver market, which it is currently third behind Frontier and mega-airline United at first. Denver is the headquarters and main operating hub for Frontier Airlines, which claims that 95% of its flights run to or from Denver. Frontier Airlines also offers some international flights to Mexico and Costa Rica out of Denver and out of Salt Lake City and Kansas City.
That first paragraph was mostly informative, but I would like to bring some of my own opinions into this post since you could probably find most of the information listed above in various other reports about the sale, if you haven’t already. Well, let me start by saying I’ve never flown Southwest Airlines. I was talking with someone before the sale was finalized about I, like most other journalists, expected Southwest Airlines to prevail. He said, “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with Southwest.” I actually almost signed up for the RapidRewards program, which is Southwest’s frequent flyer program just so that I could get a jump start with the airline, in a sense.
I still wanted Republic Airways to win, if only for one reason-they would not phase out Frontier, as Southwest had planned. Some of the changes outlined by Southwest’s proposal of $150 million dollars (over $40 million more than initially proposed by Republic) included phasing out Frontier’s fleet of Airbuses for the standard Southwest fleet of Boeings, and eliminating at least 10 of the 50 or so flights that Frontier ran. But again, the main issue I had was phasing out the Frontier name and brand, though it is as one would expect since Southwest wouldn’t have much reason to run two separate brands when it runs its own very successful one.
I’ll reiterate here that Frontier is my favorite airline, and Republic intends at this time not to drastically change the brand because of the sale. This is very good for happy Frontier customers like me, and I could easily go into numerous reasons why I love Frontier so much. But I think I already have a post on that (click here). Basically, Frontier stays the same, so I stay the same happy customer. It’s really too bad for Southwest because had they kept the market of Akron/Canton, (which they claim they would but seems debatable since they already operate out of the close Cleveland, OH) I probably would have flown them as I would have flown Frontier to and from the West Coast like I usually do. One reason I’ll mention here is from Akron/Canton, the quickest way to the West Coast is always Frontier. Denver is a very direct route from Akron, OH and is usually a very straight route to whichever West Coast destination, like the ones I’ve flown: Portland, Seattle, Phoenix and soon to be Orange County, CA.
But I also love the level of comfort, mainly provided by the newer AirFairs program. For just $20-25 more on the price of the ticket, you get 25% more frequent flyer miles, two free checked bags (which already pays for itself), and free DirecTV on all Airbus flights. Although the DirecTV thing is something I probably wouldn’t normally buy, it’s a great add-on to the fare price. Well, I guess i could keep touting about how good Frontier is, but I at least wanted to talk a little more about Southwest. They fly out of Cleveland, but I do like Akron/Canton airport better, as I am sure most who discover CAK do. So until Southwest significantly drops their prices from Cleveland, I doubt I’ll be flying them or out of Cleveland for that matter.
And I will say that at the beginning of my airline travels and ticket buying, I really did go for the lowest fare. I now find myself leaning towards flying with my two favorite airlines-Frontier and Northwest (soon to be Delta), even if these guys are a bit more than the others. So I find myself more of a convert of the system that is frequent flyer miles and brand loyalty and such. But I don’t feel so bad knowing that I have flown most airlines and have a pretty good impression of them in my mind. And I’ll also reiterate that I’ve never had a horribly negative experience with any airline. I still have a few major carriers I need to try-American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and of course, Southwest airlines. So should they offer great fares out of Cleveland (since none fly out of CAK), I expect to try them and see how they are.
But for now, I reiterate using the word reiterate for like the fifth time this post-I remain a happy Frontier customer because I know my favorite airline is staying the same…and that’s a really good thing. Go Frontier!!