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If you subscribe to my free travel tip newsletter, then you know that I often warn travelers about booking low fare carriers like Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines and a handful overseas carriers unless they know all the rules and charges. I pointed this out in a recent viral post, when a Spirit Airlines gate agent actually got into a fist fight with a mother and daughter about being charged $99 at the gate to put their carry-on bag in the overhead bin. RELATED: 12 Ways to Save Money on Baggage Fees

As I explained in the post, these low-fare carriers prey on vulnerable passengers by offering ridiculously cheap tickets (much lower than the legacy carriers like American, Delta and United) but then surprise passengers with ‘gotcha fees’ once they get to the airport.

No doubt the most infuriating of the fees is the carry-on fee. Most airlines allow passengers to carry on one checked bag and a personal item free of charge. However, low fare carriers (and now some restricted fares of the legacy airlines) don’t. Many people who regularly fly these airlines will say that information regarding bags and extra fees is presented up-front at the time of booking but clearly, many people don’t see or read all the details. That’s why you really need to read the fine print of every ticket you buy.

For example, in the Google Flights screenshot above, I priced out a ticket from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale in a couple of weeks from now. As you can see, Frontier is charging almost a third less than American and Delta Air Lines.

Google Flights shows no baggage but not everyone is booking via Google Flights or even pays attention to what that symbol means. Many consumers probably thinks it means no checked bag, which is why they are stunned at the airport or gate when it’s basically too late to do anything about it.

You can imagine how upset you would be if you had already made your travel arrangements, took time off of work, hired house/pet sitters, paid for transportation to/from airport, bought non-refundable lodging or a cruise reservation, then show up to the airport only to get bamboozled. No wonder these carriers lead the way in complaints (and probably brawls)

Frontier’s carry-on bag prices for the PHL-FLL flight used in my example are as follows (see screenshot above).
During Booking on Web / Mobile App: $53
Before Check-In on Web / Mobile App: $56
At Check-In on Web / Mobile App: $64
At Airport Kiosk or Ticket Counter: $79
At Airport Boarding Gate: $99
Customer Support Agent: $79

Keep in mind that this is just for carry-on bags. The prices are similar for the first checked bag. Meanwhile, most airlines charge $35 for a checked bag and pretty much everyone knows the trick to save on checked baggage is to get through security and gate check it for free.

Well, don’t even think about trying to do that with the low-fare carriers. We just learned this week why passengers aren’t able to bypass their system.

Frontier’s gate agents are paid for each bag they make passengers either check or put in the overhead bin. The viral video that exposed their dirty little secret was posted by Dyana Villa, who showed her carry on-bag fit into their luggage sizer but the agent insisted it didn’t because she had to lightly push it down. See the video below. Please make this go viral! The frontier front desk and supervisor were not cooperating with their guest. PLEASE HELP US GET THIS TO FRONTIER! #frontier #viral #flying #flight #carryon #personalitem #frontierairlines ♬ original sound – . Please make this go viral! The frontier front desk and supervisor were not cooperating with their guest. PLEASE HELP US GET THIS TO FRONTIER! #frontier #viral #flying #flight #carryon #personalitem #frontierairlines ♬ original sound – .

Dyana uploaded a follow-up video (see below), in which she claimed to have been messaged by a tired Frontier Airlines flight attendant who said gate agents are eligible for a $10 bonus for every passenger bag they force the $100 fee on … and then the passengers take it out on the poor gate agents and flight attendants. Replying to @c4re.b3ar_ 10 bucks dude…fr ? #frontierairlines #cancelfrontierairlines #foryoupage #frontier ♬ original sound – .

If that’s not infuriating, I don’t know what is. On top of that, Frontier confirmed that it’s true! According to The Independent, “A Frontier spokesperson told The Independent that the fee is “simply an incentive for our airport customer service agents to help ensure compliance with our policies and that all customers are treated equally.”

I know a Spirit Airlines passenger had a similar experience when the gate agent tried to charge him $89 to check his skateboard because it wouldn’t fit in the sizer. He broke the board in half so it fit, the gate agent wasn’t happy but the flight attendant onboard saw what happened and rewarded him with free snacks. See the video below. Tony Hawk even commented on it, saying that he had a similar incident at London’s Heathrow security. And speaking of which, check out these airport security hacks, including for LHR too.


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Have you been bamboozled by an airline because they were trying to force a ridiculous fee on you? If yes, leave the details in the comments.


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31 Comments On "Infuriating: Frontier Airlines Busted for Incentivizing Gate Agents to Enforce Outrageous Baggage Fees"
  1. Bernie|

    Frontier charged me and never even told me or ask me to prove my bag fit. It did. I didn’t find out until 2 days after I arrived home. Frontier would not refund the $99 because I didn’t have a recept. How do you get a recept when they don’t tell you they are charging you.

  2. Patrick|

    “Outrageous Baggage Fees”? Only if for some reason you don’t know about them and EVERYONE should who is flying Frontier. It’s part of the deal so to speak.

  3. Joe|

    I guess you didn’t see the TikTok where the counter agent was leaning her knee on the weigh scale while passenger luggage was being weighed and when caught on video blew it off as a joke

  4. Jimmy|

    First time flying Frontier and probably my last! The Atlanta Frontier gate agents were very rude and hostile. They would not allow any passenger to place their bags in the baggage measuring device. They deliberately placed the bags in such a way that they would not fit. Now we know why…they were trying to hit everyone with baggage fees to get their share!

  5. Bryan|

    this happened to my girlfriend and I at the San Antonio Airport !!! the frontier agents ganged up on us and charged us $200 in bag fees. They threatened us and said we werent getting in the plane to get back home to the orlando airport unless we payed $100 for each of the two personal items we had on us. They acted like thugs and now that this came out that they get payed bonuses for doing that, it all makes sense now !!!

  6. Rhonda|

    The gate attendant at the Atlanta airport are so rude! I had to pay $99 for a bag that had my medicine in it. I didn’t realize you needed a specific bag to carry your medicine in and then he said “oh we don’t recognize that as a medical bag, we recognize CPAP and something else he mumble.” If they are only getting $10 I could have given him $10 on the side!

  7. Ron|

    This airline is the absolute worst!very rude,very hostile employees, especially the gate agents.i have witnessed them calling security and kicking people off of flights for daring to argue with them.thier policy only seems to incentivive dishonesty and theft of our money.i will go out of my way to never fly on frontier again!

  8. Pat Sargent|

    I had to cancel a Frontier flight knowing there would be a $99 charge. But because the cancelled flight was within 7 days of cancelled departure there was a $31 surcharge.
    Frontier isn’t in the aviation business any longer. They self righteously claim that it’s all up front. Maybe so. It is a disservice to the public. Shame on Frontier for public rip offs.

  9. Kim Roat|

    I fly Frontier frequently and have my bag size down perfectly. The agents in Cincinnati did not size a single bag at boarding. The agents in Ft. Myers shake down everyone! It holds up boarding and makes for a very unpleasant experience for everyone trying to board.

  10. Karoumia|

    They made me feel that the bags are more precious than my mother and my wife

  11. Sharon Metayer|

    My underage granddaughters flew with frontier Maine to Orlando. 69 dollars each both ways with a small carry on! Outrageous! They got me! Even worse only debit card for snack or a drink! They bypassed them! No food or drink for you two girls 15 and 11! Give a girl some water! On a positive note one of the stewardesses got them to the exit for me to meet them. Kudos to her!

  12. Myra Edwards|

    Traveled this horrible airline March 6, 2023. Horrible service, rude customer agents in the Denver airport. Tried to do a money grab and make me pay ($99) extra for my small carryon (weighed 18 lbs) and my purse (12 in tall). All of this checked fine and was allowed in the Virginia TSA Frontier Airport. My bag did fit in the little contraption however, the strap was broken on my $55 bag in the process. I will never fly this carrier and will tell everyone I know to stay away.

  13. Kim|

    We all can complain. But what can we do about it???? They should not be able to keep doing this to people!!!! Some people may not have the extra money when they are about to board the PLANE!!! They don’t seem to be concerned about our complaints!! When you add up the additional fees you might as well booked your flight with American or Delta!!!

  14. Ruth|

    Wow , I thought I was only one suckered. We checked before going went to buy small luggage then we’re told by agent that they were to filled. But I swear they would fit. But they didn’t care. We paid
    baggage fees that were half of what we paid to fly.

  15. Gina Marsch|

    I got the door shutting my face in February 27th leaving out of Atlanta going to West Palm Beach flying frontier. I measured my bag perfectly and for some reason they’re actually smaller than they say on the site. It is the biggest crock of crap and the door was shut in my face as I was pulling out my wallet to pay the stupid $100 which won’t have costing $300 because she told me she couldn’t wait and I lost my flight. My daughter had to actually book me on a flight American just to get to West Palm Beach and they’re not only rude but they are the worst airline not even worth the hassle of the low price. I always flew Delta and there’s a reason for it. I hope they go out of business

  16. Bryan|

    Just don’t overstuff your personal items. The reason for making the bags have to fit in the Sizer is because those are personal items which must fit underneath the seat in front of you and if they are overstaffed, the person must shove it underneath their seat, and guess what is located underneath the seat of every passenger, a life preserver. So in the event of a ditching emergency, that person would now have no life jacket to exit the aircraft with because the bags are now tearing apart the life preservers, therefore risking the safety of other passengers on board. Frontier makes plenty of announcements for passengers with personal item bags to come up and size them before boarding begins. That way they have the opportunity to go onto the Frontier website and purchase it at a discounted rate. But when passengers try to bypass that the agents have no choice but to do our job and charge them the $99 fee because they did not listen to the announcement stating to come up in size your bag before boarding begins and if it doesn’t fit it’s cheaper to pay for it online before boarding begins. I know as a passenger I would not want someone behind me, shoving an overpacked “personal item” underneath my seat, ripping apart my life jacket which could save my life potentially, in an aircraft ditching in the water!!!

  17. Megan McBride|

    I was charged $200 at the gate for a bag that fit in their square thing and also my service animal where I filled out the tsa form and sent it in ahead of time. My bank thought it was fraud. I’ll make my experience a tik tok. I told my bank it was fraud and they ended up not paying the $200. I’m scared to fly now because it was literally traumatic and also denied me my civil rights.

  18. Michelle|

    I went from Denver to Tampa and my actual frame of my back pack wouldn’t fit in the entire box so I was forced to wright my name on it in sharpie and was going to send it to lost and found when one of the ticket agents told me to just go ahead cause the plane was waiting on me to board…after I landed with my bag I found out they hard charged the person who bought my ticket another 100.00 $ to his credit card with no permission or talking to him what so ever …it started my vacation off horrible.. and in debt from the get go..I will never fly with them or give them another cent ..disgusted in Denver

  19. Anonymous|

    Frontier airline sent ma amail about my flight was changed to a connecting flight that I purchased a non stop flight and the representative asked me what did I want to do on a chat line because Frontier airline do not have a live person that you can talk to but I told the representative if I decide to cancel my flight will I get my whole refund and they didn’t not reply so I told her that it wasn’t right and the representative told me to go on line and cancel the flight and I paid $224 for my luggage and the other person that was going with us and the other cost for the luggage was 108 and they told me I do not get that back it’s a ripp off and I won’t ever go with Frontier airline again

  20. Jerome|

    Frontier is ruining it’s reputation with these ridiculous charges. It does not make any sense. They say they want the bags to be a certain size but the bags still can go in the overhead storage or under the seat in front of you so what is the actual point? This is nothing more than a pathetic money grab.

  21. traveler|

    one of the guys at the gate tried to charge me for my cpap and my backback (which fit indise the measuring box ). I had to look sternly at him and said “this is my medical device ” . the dude was too smart to recognize the ubiquitous cpap bag. After a few seconds, he then realized the reality of my cpap . he let me go. this has lost a lot of my goodwill toward frontier airlines.

  22. Rosie|

    I ran into this when leaving Charlotte recently. My bag was the correct size but was overstuffed. I dutifully got in line to pay but was fuming. When the gate agent was distracted with a toddler I got out of line and boarded. Thank you parents of screaming toddler! I will never fly Frontier again.

  23. Michelle|

    Yes I have! In fact, Frontier explains on their website the size of the personal bag allowed (18 x 14 x 6) yet, the container that one has to put the personal item into at the gate to check it, is SMALLER than that! Yes!!! Smaller! I got caught bringing a bag with me that was within those measurements, but it wouldn’t fit in the container at the gate. I was very upset, I repeated the online measurements to the attendent….all she said was ” that’s what they give. Us”. She couldn’t even look at me. I fought them through email back and forth about this after I got back. They would not give me a refund and they still have the size of the personal item online the same measurements!!! ThR is deceitful! They need to correct the measurements online or make the containers bigger! I was so angry at how they handle this. It’s an easy $99 fee for them each time!!

  24. Jacqui|

    Frontier is the absolute worst. I had a flight scheduled checked in my bags knowing I was getting bumped of my flight. No communication at all. After 3 hours I went to ask what was happening I was told to be patient. Another 3 hours later to be told they couldn’t get us on a flight that day. I went with Alaska instead who were brilliant by the way. When I arrived at the airport Frontier was closed. No one in sight. So no luggage. Tried to reach out the next day. Was told they were off and would have to wait for my luggage. Never ever again. They gave me 250 flight voucher. Never got reimbursed for my flight. Take your 250 I won’t use it.

  25. Charles Rogers|

    Bought a computer bag with wheels that was smaller than what Frontiers sizes are published. I even measured this bag loaded and it was still within the measurements. Get to airport and it won’t fit the box they have. Wife had a bag and hers was same size, but with the bulges, wouldn’t fit either. Had to pay $100.00 for her bag, pulled a makeup kit from mine and was able to go through. This was in Cincinatti. We went to Las Vegas. On the return flight I paid the $63.00 for the larger bag when checking in online for the flight but was stopped at the gate again saying my bag was too big. They didn’t have a box at this gate in Las Vegas to measure as they were using Alaska Airlines gate for boarding. I advised the agent it fit in at Cincinatti, but she informed me this wasn’t Cincinatti. I bought the bag with the label Underseat, with the dimensions on the bag smaller than the posted dimensions on their website. My airfare was really low, but we had a voucher for a flight last year that made it nice. Guess they needed their money back.

  26. Karen|

    My boyfriend had to fly from Denver to Tampa for a funeral. He packed his roller computer bag that fits a computer and a few personal items- the bag clearly fit in the personal item sizer- the gate agent told him to get in line to pay for a carry on- he proceeded to board the plane and they charged us $99 for the bag that clearly fit. I tried to get a refund and they said they could not refund the money. They offered a $75 voucher that has to be used on frontier- which we will never fly again- how can the gate agents be incentivized to charge these outrageous fees? This has to be illegal somehow. We are so angry about this. We are hoping there is a class action law suit filed against frontier. I will only fly southwest from now on.

  27. eva m hunter|

    This definately should be brought to the attention of the congresspeople and senators representing each person.

  28. DB|

    I will Never fly Frontier again after this one last upcoming flight. But, we all need to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation reporting this unfair arbitrary practice and bonus system for the gate agents. Here is the information to voice your complaint directly with Department of Transportation: Contact Us By Phone or Mail
    If you wish to submit a complaint to DOT via written letter, please feel free to do so using the contact information below. When mailing a letter, please include your full address and phone number as well as complete and accurate information about your trip and the problem you had or are having.

    Contact us by phone – You may contact DOT by phone at 202-366-2220. Please know that in order for a case to be processed as a complaint, it must be submitted in writing.
    Contact us by mail – To contact us by mail, please send your correspondence to the below address.

    Office of Aviation Consumer Protection
    U.S. Department of Transportation
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC 20590

  29. Amber|

    I was told at the gate I couldn’t upgrade my personal item to carryon through the app. I got charged $99. Later discovered it was still available to purchase via the app – for an outrageous $65, but still less than 100. And when brining this up to the gate agent (after being charged) I was told to submit a request for refund on the website. My request was of course denied. Frontier used to be decent, still not great but not terrible to the point of not flying through them. Even since they outsourced their airport staff and eliminated a customer service line it’s drastically worse. I will no longer fly with them and I’ve advised my family and friends to do the same.

  30. SD|

    This is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed, hopefully by Frontier themselves. Paying bounties to your gate agents is possibly the dumbest business decision you could possibly make! May 18th, 2023, we were ganged up on and screamed at by three gate agents who could barely form a coherent sentence among them. Both of our personal items fit in the sizers with minimal effort. They told us we would have to pay. We wound up leaving $30 worth of stuff behind and they let us on the plane. Literally making up new rules as we went along saying we could not push the bags in at all, saying we could only attempt to resize the bag one time. What Frontier doesn’t realize is it’s actually cheaper to just go buy some new clothes when you get there. I will absolutely hit a thrift store as my first stop and drop $100 or more and then re donate the clothes before I will give that money to frontier!

  31. Clarinda|

    Last year in Denver frontier charged me a 100 dollars for carry on bag that fitted in the bin I made it through Cincinnati and Las Vegas fine and we had direct flight from Cincinnati to Las Vegas and from Las Vegas back to Cincinnati and frontier changed are flight to Denver now we know why

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