To skip a step at the airport, many of us load our boarding passes onto our phones and opt to travel with a carry-on. But for longer trips, you often do need to stop at the airline’s ticket counter, particularly when you’ve got baggage to check. If you regularly fly Frontier Airlines and plan to visit these counters, you’ll want to make sure you take note of the airline’s new policy, which now requires you to get to the airport even earlier. Read on to find out why Frontier is closing its counters an hour before flights, and whether you can expect other airlines to follow suit.
In an Aug. 1 tweet, Frontier confirmed that it would be closing ticket counters for check-in and bag-drop 60 minutes ahead of your flight’s departure. According to the tweet, the previous cutoff was 45 minutes.
“We continue to be committed to getting you and your bags to your destination,” the tweet continued, noting that the change goes into effect on Aug. 16.
In a statement provided to Best Life, a spokesperson for Frontier asserted that this change is being made to give passengers more time, not less.
“Increasing the standard check-in and bag drop cutoff from the current 45 minutes to 60 minutes prior to scheduled departure will help to ensure ample time for customers to get through security and to their gate, as well as allow additional time for bags to move through airport handling systems to aircraft,” the spokesperson wrote. “It will also serve to standardize the cutoff times for both international and domestic travel.”
According to The Points Guy, Frontier now has the “most stringent check-in rule” for domestic flights out of all the big U.S. carriers. (Airline rules typically differ for international flights.)
American has the same time requirement for check-in without a bag, but United gives you a bit more wiggle room: For most domestic United and United Express flights you need to check in just a half hour before your flight.
Delta Air Lines’ policy varies depending on where you’re traveling in the U.S. For most flights, you need to check your bag anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour ahead of time, and check-in between 30 and 45 minutes before departure.
While the announcement is specific to Frontier, it’s not yet clear whether other airlines will adopt similar policies—but they could be facing similar issues.
This summer has been defined by constant delays and cancellations due to weather, as well as staffing shortages. During the last week of June, thousands of flights were disrupted, largely as a result of United Airlines’ operations at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Frontier’s efforts may be an attempt to reduce these delays and instances of lost luggage. The Points Guy speculates that the policy could encourage more electronic check-ins, effectively reducing the number of people who need to do so at the airport—and potentially resulting in fewer mishaps.
However, Frontier also has unique issues, as airline employees often work both the check-in desk and the gate. This change would give them more time to get from one part of the airport to another.
Frontier says this change is a timesaving effort, but One Mile at a Time reports that the issue is a bit more complicated. The airline doesn’t allow passengers to check bags more than two hours before departure, so now they need to hit that sweet spot between the one and two-hour mark at the counter. For comparison, Spirit allows passengers to check luggage four hours prior to scheduled departure.
The outlet also notes that this policy can be particularly problematic for Frontier passengers, who are more inclined to check bags, because doing so is often less expensive than paying for a full-size carry-on.
In response to Frontier’s tweet, passengers echoed these concerns—and some said they’ve already run into issues with the existing 45-minute cutoff.
“Flew Frontier recently. While I did save some money and found the airline not to be as bad as advertised, there were a few issues,” an Aug. 2 tweet reads. “This new change hits on one. Arrived over two hours early. Found a very long check-in line staffed by very rude agents. Work on fixing that, first!”
Another added, “What if you get in line 2 hours early but you’re the 258th person in line will you wait for me?”
Yet another Twitter user asked, “Does that mean you’ll [staff your counters] with more than 1 agent at a time? No? Figured.”