What’s the worst that can happen with a budget airline…right?
“Why not?” I thought to myself. It’d been years since I’d had in-person quality time with my
father’s side of the family in general, let alone Thanksgiving. Outside of the forced social
distancing that we were all subjected to for the last (almost) three years, life was just “lifing” for
everyone I suppose – and it was hard to gather. But not this year – stars aligned on our
respective fronts and my cousin announced that she was hosting dinner at her lovely home in
The stars aligned so I made (last minute) plans to fly to Atlanta (ATL) on Thanksgiving eve – the
busiest day of travel in the county. Was I wylin? Absolutely, but I didn’t want to wait any
longer to reconnect with fam.
My go-to airline when flying to ATL is usually Delta because it’s their travel hub – which usually
means tons of flight options and fair rates, but not when I checked. “$790 dollars (for a
standard seat)!?!?” I exclaimed aloud (to no one in particular) like the gay hairstylist in Baby Boy
when he asked Jody for the price of the hot pink lingerie piece that was eyeing. So, price
gouging is what the airlines are hitting for two weeks before a major holiday, huh? *Sighs
deeply*. I wasn’t a beggar of any sort, but you know what they say, “beggars can’t be
choosers.” … Or can they?
Delta was a whole ass dub, so I proceeded with my search on Google.com/flights and stopped
for the first non-stop flight that I saw for under $500. Frontier Airlines. The ticket was priced at
$490 (including roundtrip ticket, carry-on, and checked bag fees). A bit overpriced, but
nowhere near as extreme as Delta or any of the other competitors, so I purchased it.
All was a go – I confirmed my presence at Thanksgiving last year and started the countdown.
What’s the worst that can happen with a budget airline…right?
I noticed a few minute differences initially but didn’t bat an eye to them, after all – I made the
decision to fly on this “money grab” airline. I knew there would have all kinds of insane
opportunities for them to charge me for things that I would get standardly on a more
reputable airline. Baggage: Unlike most airlines that let you check your 50lb checked bag for
free, Frontier only gives you a 40lb allowance and if you go over that, the fee is $79.
Departure: If you plan to fly internationally get to the terminal a minimum of THREE HOURS
EARLY, trust me. This isn’t a suggestion; this is a requirement. There are about 50-11 lines that
you must join so you need ample time to get through them all. A line to check your bag, a line
to print out your checked bag tag (this is hit or miss – when stateside, they will most likely print
it for you, whereas internationally they may ask you to do it), a line to figure out WTF is going
on with this no frills airline, a line to gather your thoughts, and a line to speak to an agent – a
line for EVERYTHING.
I pulled up to the Frontier Airlines terminal three hours before my flight and joined the line to
check my bag and check in. I placed my large black suitcase on the scale and prayed that it
was 40lbs or less – 40lbs on the nose. Nice – I’m off to a great start, I thought to myself. My
bag was checked, and I seamlessly cleared TSA. Since I was so early, I found something to eat
and waited in the cold ass airport for about two hours.
Picture this… You board the airplane and assume your assigned window seat – a seat as
comfortable as your finest lawn chair, except there is no plush padding and the seat won’t
recline. In fact, it’s not fine – it’s cheap because you are flying on a cheap airline. The legroom
is also laughable. I could feel the synovial fluid building up in my “mature” knees from the
inability to stretch them out – mind you, I paid for a “premiere” seat with extra legroom.
*Laughs in arthritis*.
It was what it was – I was just happy that there were no extreme flight delays, and that I would
touch down around 9 pm as scheduled. I settled into my chair, put my earbuds in and
prepared to knock out, but the flight attendant had other plans for my nap. Shorty said “fuck
yo’ nap” and got on the overhead speaker to try and sell the entire flight the airline credit card
– IKYFL. I’m accustomed to flight attendants trying to sell you on their credit card mid-flight,
but they usually keep it cute and short. Not this overzealous human. It’s like she had a word
quota for the day and was determined reach it during her (what seemed like) 10 minute rant.
I turned my music up louder and was able to zone out and catch a few ZZ’s.
We landed safely, I disembarked, and my father met me at the airport within the hour – cool.
Thanksgiving Day. The spread was epic and had my contribution – something green. Collard
greens would’ve been my go-to, but I didn’t have enough time to clean, soak, roll, cut, and
cook them, – so I went with sautéed kale. The time spent with the fam made my wonky
Frontier experience worth it. High vibrations, palpable love, gregarious laughter, delicious
colorful food, and positivity was enjoyed by all.
The rest of my time home looked like: Going to see Wakanda 2x, attending a dinner party,
visiting family friends for homecooked meals made with love, eating my father’s bomb ass
codfish fritters, quality time with my papas in the form of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), resting,
cleaning up & purging (how come no one told me that your parents start hoarding everything
as they get older? Whew!), relaxing, spending a mint at the health food store on herbs, CBD oil,
and essential oils, and absorbing as much of my father’s wisdom.
Nine days flew by. Frontier sent an e-mail and text message reminder 24 hours before my
Saturday morning (8:14 am ET to be exact) flight to remind me to get to the airport THREE
HOURS before take-off because of TSA delays. This meant leaving my dad’s place at 4:15/4:30
am ET (the latest) to ensure that I reached the airport no later than 5:15 am.
That Friday night I played myself and went to bed at 1:30 am only to wake up less than two
hours later at 3:15 am. We made good on time (left around 4:45 am) and reached the airport
around 5:15 am. I placed my bag on the scale and made the weight requirement with 1.5lbs to
spare. I breezed through TSA and headed over to my gate. “OK Frontier with the on-time flight
departures!”- I thought to myself… only to be wrong… so very wrong.
A mere 30 minutes before boarding, these mark-ass tricks pushed my 8:14 am flight back to
12:22 pm! No reason why, just a four-hour delay. Then they did it again – to 12:36 pm. Finally,
to around 1:15 pm. In addition to changing the departure time, they kept changing the gates.
The initial gate (E8) was in a whole different area of the airport, so I had to board the AirTran to
get to the new gate, DC1A. I walked over to the gate and saw how crowded it was – then
expeditiously turned TF around to find an area to lay out in at an empty Delta gate that I spied.
I sprawled out across an armrest-less bench and proceeded to fall asleep like a homeless
woman with zero cares in the world.
About two hours into my hobo nap, my alarm went off and I woke up bewildered. The once
empty gate that I lounged in was now packed with people. I adjusted myself a bit and
inadvertently locked eyes with a woman sitting perpendicular to me. She promptly got up and
walked over to me – almost as if our untimed eye gaze was an invitation for her to spark a
conversation. “Hi, can you please just move over one?” she timidly asked. Initially I thought
she was nuts. Who walks up to a woman that has clearly just woken up to ask them to
inconvenience themselves for their benefit? Yes, THEY do – but I’m not talking about them.
Aside from audacious people, uncomfortable pregnant women do – and she was the latter.
“Sure”, I replied and moved my head up one and made space for her to curl up in a fetal
position – occupying two of the five seats that the bench included.
I left the once cozy gate to find something to eat and to head to the new gate assignment,
DC2. The area that this gate was located shall forever be refer to (by me) as “The Gates of the
Ghetto”. No point in getting settled because I received what would be my final gate change
(via text & email), to DC3. All the “D” gates were adjacent to each other, so I didn’t bother
getting up again.
When I initially made my way to “D-Block”, I realized that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore Toto. This
waiting area was relegated to Frontier and Kill Yo’ Spirit passengers. The ticket agents (mostly
women) behind the counters all had similar hairstyles: long braids, long wet & wavy weaves
with elaborate “baby hair” designs, or bone straight hair – all hairstyles that stopped at the
cracks of their homegrown Southern or Dr. Miami asses. Their lashes, akin to the characters on
Muppet Babies. And baby – their nails, the designs were abundant and lengthy. Apparently,
this was the uniform.
My people watching continued, no longer on the ticket agents, but on my fellow waiting
passengers seated in my vicinity. Aside from the common look of exasperation on every one’s
face, there was another commonality… their food. I don’t mess with Popeyes, so I missed the
restaurant when I was heading to “D-Block” (to find a seat), but my fellow passengers didn’t.
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE seated around me eating Popeyes fried chicken.
“Am I being punked? – because this has GOT to be a joke”, I thought to myself. But I wasn’t
being punked, this was my life – almost EIGHT hours after arriving to the airport.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Did Frontier give you a food voucher or any other voucher
to compensate for this egregious experience?” Yes, my friend they did – and they gifted it to
me in the way that only a budget airline would – late and shimmy.
The TEN DOLLAR food voucher (I can’t even buy a bag of cashews of $10 in the airport) was
emailed to me AFTER I boarded the plane and was only to be used within 24-hours of issue.
our-ghetto-ass-airline voucher was… are you ready for this? FIFTY DOLLARS and it was to only
be used on a future Frontier flight.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse the Universe was like – “You thought I was
feeling you?” then sat a couple next to me (think old nursery rhyme “Jack Sprat could eat no fat
and his wife could eat no lean…”). For the entire duration of the flight the woman took up a
bit more space than just her seat (if you know what I mean). I started to write this post while
on the plane, but between my knees touching the back of the chair in front of me (another
premiere seat *palms face*) and the woman’s body infiltrating my personal space, I stopped
and dozed off again.
I awakened about 30 minutes before our decent to the place I’ve frequented since
the early part of last year. And “where is that?”, you may ask. I’ll allude to my
whereabouts in my next post as I review where I’ve been and why I’ve been MIA for so long.
Don’t worry, it won’t take me years to post again, more like days…
If you choose to rock out with the Frontier airlines, be prepared – ESPECIALLY if you’re
departing from Atlanta! Stay up, stay curious, and…