Frontier Airlines

Frontier San Jose to Atlanta $48 all-in fare and how I saved $47

Frontier is an airline I have flown three times in the past year for domestic trips to Denver, Miami and this week to Atlanta. Their low prices motivate me to buy tickets. Their low cost carrier add-on fees motivate me to travel light.

Frontier Airlines ticket priced at $48.20 each way for a $96.40 round trip ticket San Jose to Atlanta.

Frontier Airlines landing in Atlanta, Georgia.

My other two tickets on Frontier in past 12 months were San Jose to Denver $98 round trip in Oct 2017 and Las Vegas to Miami cost $82.06 round trip in January 2018 when I traveled to Key West and Everglades National Park.

The reason my ticket prices were so low is I am willing to fly with only a carry-on backpack that fits under the seat in front of me.

Frontier charges $35 for a carry-on bag.

Frontier Airlines charges $30 for a checked bag

If I needed a larger bag for my trip, then I could pay $60 to $70 for that additional space. I didn’t need more stuff for this trip or my last two Frontier trips. One of the last things my wife said to me as I was leaving with my backpack is “Flying with only a backpack is why I don’t travel with you on these domestic trips.”

Free Personal Item Size Limit = 14″ x 18″ x 8″.

I purchased a durable Eddie Bauer backpack for $60 specifically for its 30 liter capacity size with dimensions of 14″ x 18″ x 8″ when stuffed.

Eddie Bauer 30L backpack

My backpack has lasted longer than my wife’s $150 Samsonite hardside luggage that is no longer usable after 25 to 30 flights over the past 15 months. She is demanding new luggage before her next flight.

She really does not have a choice to travel with me on these Frontier trips since her school job does not allow her to take off work on school weekdays when I took these trips. And I try to minimize my spending on solo trips since she does not benefit from my solo travel. The money I save by flying light and avoiding bag fees is used to buy her a gift from the places I go without her.

Flying light

Each of my three Frontier Airlines trips were five days with four hotel nights and that is about the limit of what I can pack in clothing in a small pack for travel without the need to wash clothes. I can go longer if I stay in the same hotel at least two nights midway through the trip to wash clothes and have time for them to dry in the room.

Frontier charged a minimum $12 for a seat assignment. I gambled on my luck.

At $60 for a checked bag and minimum $24 for seat assignments in the back of the aircraft, the difference between a $98 ticket only and $182 ticket with checked bag and self-selected seats is  substantial.

For some flights I pay for a seat, but most of the time I don’t bother and gamble on my luck.

Frontier SJC-ATL seat prices at time of ticket purchase were $12 to $45.

Most seats were $13 at time of ticketing.

At check-in for my flight there were few remaining unassigned seats, but there were still two $12 seats with a choice of aisle or window.

Only 8 cheap seats available at flight check-in with only 3 middle seats.

I figured only 3 out of 8 seats in the middle favored my luck for an aisle or window and I did not buy a seat for the 4.5 hour flight at check-in.

At online check-in I was assigned 19F, a last minute $17 window seat that would have cost $13 at time of ticketing.

My San Jose to Atlanta outbound flight cost $48.20 all-in flying with my backpack under the seat in front of me.

No need to buy a checked bag for $30 and I was happy with my free window seat at a $17 savings compared to the price if I had a last minute change of mind.

Traveling cheaply is not the same as traveling poor

A comment I read this morning on Live and Let Fly blog regarding Ryanair low cost carrier had this statement, “The guy who is quoted … says it all when he explains that his “dream holiday” included Ryanair in the first place. I dare say it did – poor chap, but he clearly doesn’t have much in the way of financial choice. Ergo Ryanair.”

I fly Ryanair regularly, including several flights around Europe this year.

Do I have to fly Ryanair? No. But I have only had a couple of issues with Ryanair since 1997.

Do I have to fly low cost airlines without paying extra bag and seat fees to afford travel?


My attitude is everywhere I can save expenses while traveling is more money available for other things I want to buy.

Low cost tickets, while avoiding as many of the additional add-on charges I can, makes it possible to go to more places for the same amount of money.

Now it is time to check-out of JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead, where I stayed two nights with breakfast for $35.50 per night.

Traveling cheap is not the same as traveling while poor.

JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead


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