Considering Frontier or JetBlue for your next flight but need to know which is better?
The quick answer is that Frontier is an ultra low-cost carrier that will typically offer the bare minimum with your ticket and in flight. JetBlue prides itself on excellent customer service and premium technology to give you a better flight experience.
Here’s a short background on the two to start us off:
Frontier Airlines was founded in 1946 with a focus on the Rocky Mountain Region. After closing in 1986, a new business group opened with the same name in 1990 within the original Stapleton International Airport hub in Denver. It’s one of America’s top ultra low-cost carriers and the ninth largest airline in the world.
JetBlue is an independent airline that began in 2000 with a focus on comfort and updated technology for a more enjoyable flight. It’s the seventh largest airline in America by passengers carried and a highly rated low-cost airline by the American public.
Pricing & Extra Fees
Pricing is the first thing we’ll look at, since it’s the top of everyone’s mind when budgeting for a trip. Every flight will be priced out differently, and can appear to change over time as you search for flights leading up to your vacation. We’ve done the research to compare pricing between the two airlines so you can have a decent understanding of what’s included.
Frontier uses a bundled approach for purchasing tickets, which means the flight can be as cheap or as expensive as you want based on the perks you choose. Everyone starts by selecting their departure and destination cities, followed by the date, and then the list of available flights will appear. You’ll start with a base fare for a roundtrip and choose your flight times. The base fare only pays for your seat and nothing else.
We priced out a few trips to find the average costs of flights during the year and found that Frontier typically charges about $185 round trip on the East Coast and around $500 for cross-country flights for a single passenger. This is the base fare and will incur extra fees for baggage and other perks.
After choosing your base fare, you’ll be prompted to select the bundle you’d like. Here’s the breakdown of the bundles:
- The Perks Bundle: $45 allows you to bring one personal item, one carry-on bag, and one checked bag. Plus you can select your seat and get priority boarding.
- The Works Bundle: $100 allows you to bring one personal item, one carry-on bag, and one checked bag. Plus you can select your seat and get priority boarding. You can also get flight flexibility and a total refund if you request it.
- Unbundled: this approach allows you to customize your selections and can get expensive fast. To select a premium seat it can cost up to $60 per flight, where standard seating can be as little as $15. A carry-on bag is $40 per flight. One checked bag is $40 and two bags will cost you $92 per flight. Flight flexibility is $10 per flight.
You can find all of Frontier’s fares listed in this section of their site.
JetBlue uses classes to separate ticket options, which include different perks. JetBlue offers low and premium options, allowing travelers to choose pricing to suit their traveling needs.
The process starts with a baseline airfare, averaging around $300 round trip on the East Coast, about $500 cross-country, and around $565 round trip to the Caribbean for a single passenger nonstop with favorable flight times.
This base cost – called “Blue Basic” – includes one carry-on bag and one personal item, no advanced seating selection, no cancellations and you’ll be last to board. If you want more than this, the cost will increase and fees will be assessed.
Here’s what’s included in the rest of JetBlue’s fare options:
- Blue: includes carry-on and personal item, and advanced seat selection with general boarding for about $30 over Blue Basic
- Blue Plus: includes carry-on and personal item, one checked bag and advanced seat selection with general boarding for about $60 over Blue Basic
- Blue Extra: includes carry-on and personal item, advanced seat selection, no cancellation or change fees and early boarding for about $100 over Blue Basic
- Mint: is not available for every flight, includes carry-on and personal item, up to two checked bags, advanced seat selection, placement in Premium Seating with early boarding for over $100 above Blue Basic
Here’s a link to a list of the different fare types JetBlue offers.
P.S. – When you’re done reading this one, don’t miss our other expert airline comparisons:
Frontier includes baggage fees in their “Perks” and “Works” bundles, but the Unbundled option charges $40 for carry-ons, $40 for one checked bag and $92 for two checked bags. Overweight or abnormal items like skis, surfboards and instruments will have different fees assessed on site.
They encourage guests to purchase their luggage online with their ticket because prices for individual bags will cost more at the ticket counter and will sky rocket at the gate.
JetBlue‘s baggage fees are included for those who select Blue Plus or Mint options on their airfare, but if you want to bring checked bags with other ticket options, the first bag is $35 and the second bag is $45. Oversized bags like bikes and surfboards are a $150 fee per item.
Frontier seat selection is included with the “Perks” and “Works” bundles but the unbundled option will charge anywhere from $15-$60 to select your seat. Purchasing flight flexibility is $10.
JetBlue‘s Blue Basic is most comparable to Frontier and this is where you’ll experience the most fees for extra things. If you’d like to select your seat, it ranges from $11 for a middle seat up to $75 in “Mint” – or premium – seating up front per flight. Bypassing security has a fee of $15.
Ways to Save
Frontier has a savings program called Discount Den that costs $60 a year. This is a subscription program that allows members to access exclusive savings throughout the year and will even allow kids to fly free on select flights.
Frontier also has an Airlines World Mastercard which collects miles with every purchase on the card. In addition to using miles toward flights throughout the year, card members will get priority boarding with each flight and foreign transaction fees will be waived on international purchases.
Outside of these programs, anyone can view Frontier’s current discounts on the home page of the website or see the full list under the “Deals” tab. These will change pretty frequently and will typically be themed for the holiday or season.
JetBlue has a Best Fare Finder web page when booking to help you find the cheapest option available for your flight. It’ll pull up a calendar of options in order for you to select the one that fits you best. They also have a miles program called TrueBlue. It uses a points system that gives you benefits for flying with them. You can earn points by flying and using their credit card partners, and can spend them on trips for yourself or others.
Seats & Flight Experience
Experience is almost always the number one factor in determining which airline is worth the value. Most passengers are looking for comfort and quality, along with friendly customer service and cleanliness. We dive into every part of the flight so you know what to expect between airlines.
Frontier offers the bare minimum in their seat design and technology, which is why they are able to make your flight so cheap. It’s important to realize this going in before you have a rude awakening stepping aboard the plane. The seats come pre-reclined and you won’t be able to adjust them, plus the tray tables are slim and there is no on-board entertainment.
Some people complain about the cramped feeling of flying with Frontier, but you may have a better experience if you’re able to sit in the exit row or if you have an aisle seat. On the bright side, Frontier has received awards for cleanliness in the cabin.
JetBlue features standard row seating with live TV screen at each seat. Passengers say that JetBlue has some of the coziest seats available for lower cost flights with larger tray tables and the company prides itself on having the most leg room of any airline’s economy class.
JetBlue’s Economy experience will be more comparable to standard airlines Economy classes, while Frontier will feel very similar to Spirit in experience. Some have described the seating arrangements as a school bus in the sky.
Frontier doesn’t have a First Class, but you can upgrade to premium or “stretch” seats at the front. They cost $60 to reserve when you book online and will offer an experience more typical of standard seats in other airline’s Economy Class. The only perks to booking one of these is to access a comfier seat, get priority boarding and to not feel cramped while flying.
JetBlue “Mint” seating is situated up front and includes large, comfy chairs that lay into beds with a sliding door for privacy. The seats also have adjustable settings and a massage feature for added relaxation. Seat backs have TVs in the headrest for live entertainment, movies and shows during the flight.
Special attendance is also given by the flight crew and service by Delicious Hospitality Group is exclusive to Mint passengers. This includes a menu of small plates by renowned New York City chefs, a plethora of wine and cocktail options, and even a custom playlist for your meal.
Amenities are also included, like a comfy pillow and blanket, upscale essential toiletries and noise-isolating headphones. Attendants even hand out packages of fancy nuts as you deplane. Mint is currently only available on certain cross-country flights, trips to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as flights to London.
Frontier does not have the best customer reviews regarding their staff, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter a friendly flight attendant. Generally, the service is poorly executed because of the cheaper price for flying. The airline does not go above and beyond to accommodate guests because they are not required to.
JetBlue prides itself on cleanliness and customer satisfaction, maintaining a high rating with the general public on service. With a few exceptions in some of the reviews we read, the majority of passengers prefer the flight experience and attendants on JetBlue flights to other low-cost carriers. The flight attendants have been described as polite and helpful regardless of the flight length and destination.
Frontier is a great example of getting what you pay for. Since the base ticket only books a spot on the flight, you’ll be paying for all the extras – including food and drinks on board. We suggest bringing snacks and a water bottle with you to avoid overpaying on the flight, along with some headphones, laptop and a book for entertainment.
JetBlue food menus have a wide variety of options, whether you go Mint or Economy. Free Wifi is included in both classes, as well as onboard entertainment. Upgrades to food and drinks come at an expected price, but overall a good value for what you’re getting.
Most airlines will have regular flights to and from major cities, but more obscure cities and international flights might be harder to come by. If you’re looking to travel spontaneously, it’s helpful to know which airlines are most accessible.
Frontier has 106 aircraft in it’s current fleet, taking travelers to 115 different destinations.
JetBlue sends flyers on over 1000 flights daily and has 267 aircrafts in it’s current fleet.
Frontier is based in Denver and has a priority focus on the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. They’ve also got focus cities, or smaller hubs, in nine other US cities including Miami and Atlanta. Save for a few, most 115 of Frontier’s destinations are within the United States.
JetBlue has a focus on the Eastern US, with hubs in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC and Fort Lauderdale. Flights to the majority of their destinations seemed to be readily available during our research. Booking, cancellations and changes are also a little easier to navigate with JetBlue.
Frontier currently has one flight to Canada, going to Calgary. The other international offerings include Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Jamaica. In Summer 2021, they’ll offer flights to Nassau in the Bahamas and Philipsburg in St. Maarten.
JetBlue has significantly more destinations available in the United States, it’s provinces and in countries around the world. The farthest country available is Bangkok, Thailand. It serves Toronto, Canada, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Other destinations include Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, most countries in Europe, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and South Africa.
Lastly, all commercial airlines are extremely safe and major incidents are very, very rare. Percentage wise, cases such as these don’t happen often at all. But it’s worth noting which airlines have the best safety measures in place because safety during air travel is extremely important.
Both airlines uphold the standard regarding aircraft makes and models. Airbus supplies planes to a good number of airlines across the world and the aircrafts they build come equipped with a “Skywise Reliability” program which reports safety concerns automatically to the airline.
Frontier uses Airbus A319, Airbus A320, and Airbus 321-200 models, while JetBlue has mostly Airbus A320, Airbus A321, and Embraer 190. These particular Airbus models are among the most highly rated planes on the market, never experiencing a fatal crash in their entire existence.
Embraer 190, however, is among one of less desirable aircrafts on the market, with 3% crash rate per 1 million flights, according to a study by AirSafe. The Embraer series is used by JetBlue for their shorter flights to and from small cities and towns with limited passengers.
It’s common for most airlines to experience minor issues on occasion. Emergency landings are not out of the ordinary, along with wing panel or landing gear trouble. For the most part, this does not result in any harm to the passengers, but we’ll touch on the worst incidents each airline has experienced.
Frontier had a few fatal crashes in their early days piloting smaller aircraft, but these days have proven much safer. Aside from a few small incidents of turbulence and bird strikes, the most recent accidents have involved chemical odor on board. This smell occurred several times between 2016 and 2018 on different A320 and A321s resulting in over a dozen passengers and several pilots being hospitalized due to the fumes.
Other than these incidents, the only true accident that has occurred in the last five years involved heavy winds and a hard landing in Orlando in 2019. No injuries were reported in this case.
JetBlue has never experienced a fatal crash in their entire existence. The worst reported incident happened to the landing gear in 2005 when landing in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The front wheel was abnormally turned, causing it to skid down the runway in flames. However, no passengers or flight crew members had reported injuries.
When it comes to safety, these airlines follow the TSA guidelines for prohibited items aboard the plane. They also adhere to the standards of each country they fly in to during international travel and require each traveler complete a form stating that they have not brought any prohibited items in their checked bags or carry-ons, which are subject to search.
It’s helpful to review each airline’s baggage requirements before flying. Some people may not know that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is among JetBlue‘s prohibited items, along with most electric skateboards in checked bags. Lithium batteries are strongly prohibited on Frontier flights.
As far as losing baggage goes, checking directly with the airline in the airport should be your first step. Second, Frontier will assess damaged baggage and may pay the cost of damage if applicable up to $3500. For lost baggage, they require you to submit a Delayed Baggage form in person or on their website.
JetBlue has an entire phone line and website dedicated to locating your lost items. However, both airlines have a lost baggage rate of about 2 bags per 1000 passengers.
To wrap it up, Frontier may be ideal for quick, spontaneous trips that don’t require much baggage, but JetBlue is sure to please most travelers.
If saving money is your only goal, Frontier is the natural choice, but at what cost? You’ll save money if you don’t need to bring luggage on your trip, but adding luggage, selecting your seat and paying for snacks on the plane will bring the price up to a comparable rate with other airlines. If your flight gets delayed or cancelled, it may also be difficult dealing with customer service in the airport or on the phone.
JetBlue, however, is the real crowd pleaser when it comes to excellence in air travel. It might cost a little more, but you’ll have a comfier chair, free snacks and drinks, free entertainment and much better service. Not to mention that delayed and cancelled flights are easier to reschedule.
Overall, we believe that JetBlue is the way to go for general travel. Frontier, on the other hand, is a viable option for trips on short notice, as long as you don’t mind a little discomfort. It’s also good for cheap flights in months when fewer people are traveling and you can get a better deal on ticket prices.