Baggage fees have hammered customers for years now, thanks to a Needham man, leading many to stuff carry-on cases ever fuller. Now Frontier Airlines is leading the pack with continued pricing innovation: The airline announced that, in its move to be “Ultra Low Cost Carrier,” customers booking “basic” fares will pay up to $100 for carry-on luggage and $1.99 for beverages.
It’s the kind of pricing strategy — lower overall fares with lucrative if obnoxious upcharges — that might make John Thomas proud: The Needham native was recently profiled by the Globe for helping encourage airliners to tack on new luggage fees.
The new structure also breaks up Frontier’s class structure into a number of discrete levels, from Summit and Ascent flyers who have free carry-on and checked baggage privileges to Basic bookers who buy cheap remainder seats through sites like Priceline and Travelocity.
“Frontier’s most loyal customers have made it very clear that finding overhead bin space for carry-on bags has become unacceptably difficult. In response, Frontier will be introducing a charge for carry-on bags for customers buying Basic fares through third party sites,” the airline wrote in a statement announcing the pricing. “All tickets sold at FlyFrontier.com include a carry-on bag with the fare.”
While the move is limited to the relatively small, budget airliner at this point, if history is any guide, these price tricks might filter up: When Thomas convinced one major airline to start charging for checked baggage, almost all the other carriers soon joined in.
“We were ecstatic,” Thomas told the Globe about the shift.
Penny pinched passengers might not feel the same way.