April 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM ET
Passengers flying Frontier Airlines will now have to pay extra to place carry-on bags in the overhead bin or for advance seat assignments.
The move comes as the Denver-based airline tries to transform itself into a fee-dependent airline, similar to Spirit Airlines or Allegiant Air — the only other U.S. carriers to charge such fees.
Frontier says that in exchange for these new fees, it is lowering its base fare by an average of 12 percent. The new charges apply to tickets purchased on or after Monday.
The fee for using the overhead bin ranges from $20 for frequent fliers who book online to $50 for those who fail to pay before getting to the gate. Most will pay $25 if they check-in online; $35 if they check-in at the airport. Personal items fitting under the seat remain free.
Seat assignments — even for the dreaded middle seat — cost an extra $3 for those who buy while booking online; $8 at check-in. If passengers don't pay extra, Frontier will assign them whatever seats are leftover.
For "select" seats, which are just in the front half of the plane, Frontier will charge an extra $5 to $15 per flight, depending on when they are purchased. "Stretch" seats with an extra 5 to 7 inches of legroom — including those in the exit row — will cost $15 to $50 per flight segment, depending on the distance flown.
Passengers who buy more-expensive, fully-refundable "Classic Plus" fares will get stretch seats for free as well as one checked back and one free carry-on bag. Similar benefits will be given for free to elite members of Frontier's frequent flier program.
"Frontier is merely copying Spirit, reflecting its investment by Indigo," said Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst with Hudson Crossing. "I'm not surprised that the airline is doing this."