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Beware discount airlines' tough check-in rules

Posted at 11:01 AM, Mar 23, 2016

Travelers love deep discount airlines like Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier for their low fares.

They offer seats for much less than mainline carriers, even cheaper than Southwest in many cases.

But you won't love it if you are two minutes late for checking in. One passenger was denied boarding -- and has a warning for everyone thinking of flying the budget carrier.

Arrive Early... Very Early

Frontier Airlines is filling planes with their super-low fares to popular vacation destinations around the U.S. Just make sure you get to the airport early.

Kevin Garrison said he got up to the check-in desk two minutes past the 45-minute deadline and was stunned by what the clerks told him.

"It was probably 43 minutes before a very-early morning flight," he said. "I said, 'My flight's at 5:45, am I allowed to check in?' They said, 'Nope, and that's our policy: We are not allowed to do anything about it.'"

Garrison says he got to the airport's long-term parking lot well over an hour before his flight. But, he says, the shuttle was running late, and when he got to the terminal, the check-in line was much longer than he expected.

But a couple of customers in front of him pushed him back two minutes, essentially slamming the door in his face.

"They told me the only thing they could do was book me on a flight the next day."

That was too late for his business meeting in Texas.

Airline Confirms Rule

A Frontier spokesman, Jim Faulkner, explained that the 45-minute rule is clearly spelled out on the Frontier website, Fly, and is there for safety reasons and to keep planes departing on time.

Garrison, though, is out almost $300 -- and says next time he'll fly another airline.

"I don't have another flight with them, and I don't know if I ever will," he said.

This is not an isolated complaint: The Houston Press did a report on several other people hit by Frontier's 45-minute check-in rule who were also denied boarding for their flights.

While all airlines have check-in deadlines, Frontier's is among the most strict and inflexible. So arrive especially early for their flights, so you don't waste your money.

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