Passengers complain that they can’t find flights with Frontier’s all-you-can-fly pass. This is how it really works.


As someone who travels frequently, San Francisco Bay Area resident Denise Smith was thrilled to learn about Frontier Airlines’ GoWild all-you-can-fly pass this spring.

For a flat fee of $699, the GoWild pass allowed you to fly anywhere, domestic or international, for three months in a row. Smith believed that he could spend those months fulfilling his travel wishes.

And initially, he did: He made five trips in April and May.

But suddenly, as June approached, Smith could no longer find any flights. He contacted Frontier customer service, who told him to delete his web browser or even try a different computer.

Ultimately, Smith said, a Frontier supervisor told her he would contact her about what might be wrong, but never did. Smith eventually received an email saying there were no flights available to the destination she had in mind and that she wouldn’t have to check for openings more than 24 hours in advance.

In fact, Frontier says that no changes have been made to how the GoWild pass works. Its critical feature is that passengers cannot book domestic flights more than 24 hours in advance, although the airline said it has run early booking promotions where the 24-hour window is waived. Passengers can purchase international flights up to 10 days before departure.

«Unfortunately, because I bought that pass and can’t use it, I have to book through regular airlines,» Smith said. «So I’m spending more money than I thought when I bought the pass.»

A Frontier spokesperson said the pass is designed for people with nearly unlimited freedom, such as retirees, remote workers and college students on summer vacation. These passengers usually have the ability to ride at any time and don’t mind making stops.

Jacob Brown, a teacher who lives in Denver, moderates a Facebook Group for GoWild Pass Holders. As a regular Frontier flyer, he has learned the best tips for flying with the airline and shares tips with the group’s 10,000 members.

“I hope the goal of the community is that we can help people get the most out of it,” Brown said, referring to the GoWild pass. you are there, how to save on accommodation, things like that”.

As a moderator, Brown said he’s seen people think the pass is «the best thing they’ve ever done» and others who think it’s a scam. Brown said much of the frustration stems from a misunderstanding about how flight availability works and how it varies by airport.

Some pass holders might think that Frontier is reserving seats for GoWild members, but Brown stressed that they are paying to access spare seats on the cheap. Others have complained that some flights are on sale and GoWild is not available, but Brown said those flights are overselling. GoWild tickets are only available if there is a guaranteed seat on the plane.

«It really is unlimited access to empty seats,» he said. «But it’s also summer, and everyone’s going to Disney World and Las Vegas, so the flights were already pretty full. This isn’t the slow season for air travel. So it’s going to be hard to use the pass if you’re trying to go somewhere that everyone else is trying to go.

Denver is one of Frontier’s hub airports, so there are more options for flights and destinations. Brown has flown to Dallas, San Francisco, Missouri and Pensacola, Florida, using the pass. He said that he has already recovered his money in savings.

However, for others who don’t live near hubs like Denver, Las Vegas, or Orlando, Florida, finding options can be difficult. Michael Mastronardi, a video producer based in Orange County, California, posted a TikTok sharing his frustration trying to book international travel with the GoWild pass from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California.

«It was just a huge headache, trying to navigate everything,» he said.

Mastronardi told NBC News that he and his girlfriend finally booked a trip to Nassau, Bahamas. On the way, they will have two overnight stops in Las Vegas and Orlando, and on the way back, they will make an overnight stop in Orlando and land in Philadelphia.

From Philadelphia, Mastronardi said, «it’s just going to be a daily check» for flights back to Santa Ana, since domestic flights can only be booked 24 hours in advance.

Mastronardi said he’s not seeing the same functionality with the pass as others, and he understood that was partly due to its location. Frontier has three routes available from John Wayne Airport, according to their website.

«At this point, I wish I didn’t have it. I would have preferred to have the money in my pocket to spend it,» he said. «Essentially, I sacrificed my control over my vacation for the ability to book these flights for a little cheaper.»

Even pass holders who enjoy the pass admit that they have to give up some control of their rides to get value out of this pass. Brad Nelson, a San Francisco-based software developer, said he had to overcome this complaint when he started using the pass.

When he initially traveled with him, Nelson said he would be frustrated because the flights he wanted weren’t available. However, he came to accept that if what he initially wanted was not available, there was always another option.

«If you have some flexibility, you can totally go back and forth,» Nelson said. «It’s just part of the game of finding which flights are available.»

Nelson noted that finding the full list of flight options online for GoWild pass holders was time consuming and difficult, leading to a lot of frustration with Frontier.

As a result, Nelson created a text service that allows people to find all available options for flights departing from a specific airport, which he says more than 1,000 people have used so far. He is currently creating a website called 1491 Club that will have more search tools based on feedback from members of the GoWild Passholders Facebook group.

«It’s become a more positive experience because people are realizing that the pass has value,» Nelson said. «Before it was hard to find.»

He added: «The whole point of being a low-cost carrier is that these resources won’t be given to you. But as a group, we’re finding that maybe without those resources, if we work together, we can still use this pass.» «

Smith, from the Bay Area, still feels cheated.

«I feel very frustrated,» she said. «I have several more trips planned through September, which is why I did this. It’s very frustrating not being able to use the pass.»

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