Remember when checked bags were free? Remember when you got a free (terrible) meal on the plane that was undercooked and disgusting? Remember when you felt a sense of accomplishment because you convinced the flight attendant to give you the whole can of Coke!
Those days are over and we are being duped into paying fees without questioning why. Initially, the excuse for checked bags was because of the cost of fuel. Fuel costs have gone up, down, and all around but checked bag prices have not gone away. Instead, we gleam with pride when we present our airline awards card and tell the agent at the check-in desk, “No, my first bag flies free!”
I rarely check bags because I like to get in and out of the airport in a hurry because nothing is more demoralizing than watching one bag after another get dumped onto the carousel only to wait for yours never to come. While we are on the subject, a quick aside, does anyone else believe that they put a couple of dummy bags on the carousel as soon as you land to give you a glimmer of hope that your bags too will quickly be on their way?
Anyhow, last week I took my free flight from Phoenix to Costa Rica. In total it cost 40,000 Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns points (a horrible name for a frequent flier program) because only the returning leg was at the ‘saver’ level. The outbound leg went for a premium of 25k while the return was the discounted 15k.
Why is this important? Checked bags, carry-ons, and chickens are allowed with premium bookings. But when I was hastily clicking through to reserve my return seat (which always disappears as soon as the booking gods realize that you are indeed serious about booking) I skipped over the option that said ‘Don’t Get Left Holding the Bag’ followed by a menu of prices.
I had heard that Frontier was charging for carry on bags but assumed that it was only for domestic flights.
I arrive at the airport and the less than helpful agent tells me that I have to pay for my backpack because it exceeds the size of a personal item. Pleading with him that my laptop and jambox were very personal, I begrudgingly gave him my credit card and headed for the gate.
But wait, I almost forgot to add, if you do want to go to Costa Rica and you do plan on returning home, you have to pay an exit departure tax of $29.
And, if you are thinking about using your credit card to pay for your getaway to earn points, think again. A credit card transaction will be treated by the country whose motto is Pura Vida as a cash advance. Pura Vida? No, mis amigos, Pure Ripoff.
In all fairness to the Bureau of Costa Rican tourism, they do sell beer at the airport at 6AM. Too bad it’s $5 a pop.
So in conclusion, I had a great time in Costa Rica but this was the final frontier for me flying Frontier. I’m not saying not to apply for the Frontier Card but just know ahead of time that free without the ‘R’ spells fee.
El profesor enojado