Frontier Airlines is a major American low-cost/low-fare airline headquartered in Denver, Colorado. It was founded in 1994 and has grown rapidly to now serve more than 100 US domestic and international destinations.
When it comes to low-cost airlines, some people equate low cost to unsafe. Well, in my view, this is not a fair comparison to make. Frontier Airlines is safe, just as all other FAA-certified airlines are. Read on to find out why.
Frontier Airlines Operates a Very Modern Airbus Fleet
If you’re worried about aircraft age, then I can happily tell you that Frontier Airlines operates a very modern fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 narrowbody aircraft.
According to Airfleets.net the average age of the Frontier Airlines fleet is just 4.2 years. The average Frontier Airlines aircraft ages by variant are shown in the table below:
|Aircraft||Number of Aircraft||Average Age|
An average aircraft fleet age of around 4 years compares very well to other airlines. Typically, major full-service carriers tend to have average fleet ages of around 10 to 15 years. The average fleet ages of other major US low-cost airlines are as follows:
When it comes to the Frontier Airlines fleet, there’s more good news. Frontier Airlines has more than 50 A320s and 176 A321s on order and yet to be delivered, so there’s a huge pipeline of brand-new airframes still to come.
Frontier Airlines Is Safety Certified by the FAA
Frontier Airlines is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and carries an official air operator’s certificate (F3LA008Y).
The FAA ensures that an airline complies with required safety codes and laws. A valid and current air operator certificate means that Frontier Airlines has the required rules and protocols in place to maintain and operate aircraft safely.
Further, Airlineratings.com gives Frontier Airlines a solid 7/7 safety rating, which means:
- Frontier hasn’t suffered a fatal crash within the last 10 years. In fact, Frontier Airlines has never suffered a fatal air accident.
- Frontier Airlines has not experienced serious pilot-related incidents.
- Frontier Airlines is not blacklisted by aviation authorities in Europe or the United States.
- The USA performs favorably in ICAO Country Audits which assess a nation’s approach to airline safety oversight and regulation. Frontier Airlines is safety regulated by the FAA and the FAA’s IATA Safety Audit results are very good with effective implementation in the range of 80-100% for the eight areas audited, well above the global average.
- Frontier Airlines is IOSA (International Air Transportation Association Operational Safety Audit) certified. This audit is optional and assesses whether an airline has the necessary systems and processes in place to operate safely. Airlines are evaluated every two years.
- Frontier Airlines has been complying with COVID-19 standards.
Frontier Airlines Incidents and Accidents
Similar to many airlines that operate a large fleet of aircraft, Frontier Airlines’ safety record is not spotlessly clean.
I took a look into the FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) database to find the FAA-recorded incidents for Frontier Airlines. I found 49 incidents over a 28-year period from 1995 to 2021. None of these incidents involved fatalities, and the total personal injuries across all of these recorded incidents were sixteen.
What we cannot tell from the FAA database is the direct cause of these incidents, and it’s highly likely that some of these incidents (and ensuing injuries) were the result of events outside of the control of Frontier Airlines such as lightning strikes, turbulence, and bird strikes. However, this is not to say Frontier Airlines is entirely without fault. Other research shows that some of these incidents involved aircraft tail strikes on landing.
Also, does this mean that Frontier Airlines has had no safety incidents since October 2021 – the last incident recorded in the database? Not necessarily – there may be other incidents that may not yet have made their way to the database. If you did an internet search, you might find a few more recent incidents.
Nevertheless, let’s put these incidents in context.
Over its 28 years of operation, the FAA-recorded 49 incidents work out at one or two incidents per year on average. This is not unusual for a large airline. Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Frontier was carrying more than 20 million passengers per year.
I estimate that this equates to around 150,000 flights per year. Hopefully, that provides some reassurance.
Don’t Confuse Frontier Airlines with an Old Airline Named the Same
I should point out that there was a former airline, now out of business, that was also called Frontier Airlines that was operating from 1950 to 1986.
In 1978 that airline suffered a fatal air crash at Pueblo, Colorado involving a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. All three people on board the aircraft died.
That air crash is not related to the currently operating Frontier Airline. And, the current Frontier Airlines continues to maintain its fatality-free incident record.
How Can Frontier Airlines Be Both Safe and Cheap?
The idea that low-cost/low-fare means a poor safety record is a common misconception. Frontier Airlines is able to offer low fares by lowering its costs in areas where it is perfectly safe to do so and by increasing its ancillary revenues.
A good example of reducing costs is operating a single-type aircraft fleet which lowers maintenance and crew costs and increases operational efficiency and flexibility. Frontier Airlines also utilizes its aircraft better than many full-service carriers and maximizes revenues by increasing seats in each aircraft right up to the certified exit limit.
Frontier Airlines is able to increase its ancillary revenues by selling drinks and food onboard, charging for checked-in and carry-on bags, charging for seat assignment airport, and so on.
All in all, just like other low-cost airlines, Frontier Airlines finds ways to minimize its costs and maximize its revenues without compromising safety.
Summary: Is Frontier Airlines Safe?
Frontier Airlines is a safe airline.
It operates a young fleet of all Airbus aircraft and has suffered no fatal crashes in its 28-year operational history. In addition, Frontier Airlines is, amongst other things, IATA safety certified. Frontier Airlines also meets the FAA’s safety standards and requirements.
With typically only one or two incidents per year, and flying well over 100,000 flights per year, I would not have any qualms about flying with Frontier Airlines.