Frontier Airlines changes fee structure for carry-on bags, checked bags, seat assignments, more

Starting travel savings club EarlyRewards

DENVER - Frontier Airlines is lowering the cost of its cheapest economy fares, but changing how it charges for extra items like carry-on bags, checked bags and seat assignments.

Starting Monday, the extra items for an economy fare are "unbundled," meaning passengers may purchase just the extras they want.

"With an unbundled product, customers can save even more by choosing to pay for only the products that they want, allowing them to customize their flight experience for each and every flight," said David Siegel, CEO of Frontier Airlines.

One major change for passengers -- they now have to pay for a carry-on bag.

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.

Personal items fitting under the seat remains free. Frontier will still allow passengers one personal item at no charge. Personal items may be a laptop, a purse, a backpack or briefcase.

In the past, passengers flying on the cheapest discount tickets could carry-on one bag for free, if they bought their ticket on Frontier's website.

There are also new fees for checking in. Most will pay $25 if they check-in online; $35 if they check-in at the airport.

You'll also pay more to pick your own seat assignments 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 seats.

Frontier said the changes are only for passengers buying their tickets on April 28 and beyond. There are no charges for passengers who purchased their tickets prior to April 28.

Passengers will still be able to purchase a Classic Plus fare, that includes a fully refundable ticket, no change fees, extra leg room, one free-checked bag, and one free carry-on bag.

Frontier made two other announcements Monday:

Frontier said it is lowering the cost of its cheapest economy fares by an average of 12 percent on every nonstop route it flies.

Frontier said it is also creating what it calls a travel savings club. Join the Discount Den and get $5 off your carry-on and 1st checked bag as well as other special deals via email. Members of Frontier's frequent flyer program, EarlyReturns, will be enrolled automatically and you must be a member of EarlyReturns to join the Discount Den.

Membership is free until June 30, 2015, then the memberships will go on sale, Frontier said. Learn more: FlyFrontier.com/DiscountDen.

Frontier, Southwest and United are the three major airlines serving Denver International Airport.

Yet the cheapest fares isn't always determined by the name on the side of the plane.

7NEWS checked three popular direct destinations from DIA.

First, Kansas City:

On the surface Frontier is the cheapest at $154.  But if you carry-on, plan on paying at least $25 each way to use an overhead bin.

Now you're paying more than $200.

Southwest cashes in at $221 -- that includes a bag under your seat, one in the overhead bin and 2 checked bags.

United is $184, which includes a bin bag and a one under your seat.

Next, Denver to Los Angeles:

Frontier has a base fare of $204, yet if you plan to use the overheads, your round trip is now $254.

Southwest is $228 round trip: that includes a bag under your seat, one in the bin and 2 checked bags.

United  is $228 round trip including a bag under your seat and one in the bin.

Finally, Denver to Phoenix:

Frontier came in at $103, with an additional $25 each way to use a bin. Southwest is at $184 including all of your bags. United will run you $198 for a bag in the bin and under your seat.

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