Frontier and Spirit Airlines Drop Change and Cancellation Fees

Budget travelers now get more flexibility without looming cancellation fees, among other big pricing changes.
Erin Oppenheim
By Erin Oppenheim 
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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Budget travelers rejoice. Just in time for summer travel to really kick off, major U.S. low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines made big pricing updates and dropping change and cancellation fees.

Frontier and Spirit offer low base fares, but any add-ons for basic amenities like seat selection or carry-on luggage come at a price. The total cost sometimes rivals other full-service airlines. And until now, changes and cancellations have also come at a steep cost.

This move follows a growing trend in the airline industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, Southwest was one of the only domestic airlines not to charge any change fees. But big airlines like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines all stopped charging change fees on most domestic flights (with the exception of basic economy fares) during the pandemic. Now budget airlines are following suit.

Here’s what you need to know about these pricing updates.

Frontier Airlines pricing update

Frontier overhauled its pricing and services, including eliminating change fees for most fares and offering new ticket options with included benefits.

Four fare classes

Here's a breakdown of their newly defined fare options, all presented upfront when you book:

  • Basic Fare: For budget-conscious travelers, this option includes a personal item for your essentials. Additional amenities can be purchased if needed, providing flexibility.

  • Economy Class: Offers a carry-on bag and a standard seat assignment, balancing affordability and convenience.

  • Premium Class: Offers preferred seat selection (subject to availability), a carry-on bag and priority boarding with guaranteed overhead bin space.

  • Business Class: Offers extra legroom and comfort in UpFront Plus seating (when available), including a guaranteed empty middle seat. This fare also includes a carry-on bag, two checked bags with a higher 50-pound weight limit and priority boarding with guaranteed overhead bin space.

No change or cancellation fees

Frontier eliminated change and cancellation fees for most fares (Economy, Premium, and Business) to give travelers more flexibility.

Moving forward, you won’t pay any fees to change your ticket or itinerary, however you'll be responsible for any difference in price between your original ticket and the new fare. You will not get a refund or travel credit if your new fare is lower. This also applies to any changes you make with optional add-ons.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If the new fare you are looking at is lower than the original fare, consider canceling your itinerary instead of changing it. By canceling, you’ll receive a travel credit good for up to 12 months, versus forfeiting the difference in price.

“For Less” price guarantee

Frontier also announced a new "For Less" price guarantee, promising customers 2,500 miles if they find a cheaper flight on the same route and date after booking with Frontier.

To claim your 2,500 miles under the "For Less" guarantee, fill out the claim form within 48 hours of booking your Frontier flight if you find a cheaper option elsewhere meeting specific criteria (same route, dates, travel type). Miles are awarded after your qualifying Frontier flight.

See Frontier's website for full details and restrictions.

Spirit Airlines pricing update

Following Frontier’s announcement of these big changes, Spirit Airlines dropped change and cancellation fees for individual bookings. Before this change, fees ranged anywhere from $69 to $119 depending on the fare class and how close to departure the change was made.

Now, changes can be made up to one hour before scheduled departure. Canceled fares will receive a reservation credit, valid for one year.

Spirit hasn’t made sweeping changes to its pricing like Frontier, but there could be more updates to the passenger experience down the road. For now, the airline's basic flying experience remains the same. While change and cancellation fees are gone, you can still expect to pay extra for checked bags and seat selection.

(Top photo courtesy of Frontier Airlines)

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