Should You Join the Frontier Discount Den or Spirit $9 Fare Club

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I love Spirit and Frontier. Not flying them–I think I’ve flown them three total times, which weren’t particularly pleasant experiences. I just love what they represent. As the two largest ultra-low-cost carriers in the United States, they put downward pressure on all airlines’ fares, which benefits flyers immensely.

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We are all used to paying for checked bags and meals, but Spirit and Frontier charge for a lot more including carry on bags, seat assignments, and even water. A lot of people hate them for that, but I actually agree with their marketing that it’s fairer to charge a la carte pricing and have customers only pay for the services they want. Everyone reading this site is astute enough to compare apples to apples and figure out whether he is getting a better deal on an ultra-low-cost carrier even after the nickle-and-diming.

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Another thing Spirit and Frontier have in common: paid membership clubs. You pay $50 to $70 per year in exchange for discounts only available to Spirit $9 Fare Club and Frontier Discount Den members. Are the Spirit $9 Fare Club and Frontier Discount Den worth the price? Let’s check them out.

Spirit $9 Fare Club

The Spirit $9 Fare Club costs $20 for the first two months or $60 for the first year. Both plans automatically recur for $70 per year.

Members get discounted fare sales and discounted checked and carry on bag fees. Spirit claims that members save an average of $75 per booking.

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Most fares are not discounted for $9 Fare Club members, but some are. Most fare sales offer a cheaper price for $9 Fare Club members. The discount is $11+ per person per direction.

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The Terms & Conditions do not specify how many people can get the discounted fare on the same reservation as one $9 Fare Club member, but I believe that all members of the reservation get the discounted fare if booked from the $9 Fare Club member’s account. (“2.3. Members must always be one of the customers traveling when booking a special fare.”)

In addition to sometimes getting fare discounts, $9 Fare Club members always get bag discounts of $9 per bag per direction.

Since the only free bag you get on Spirit is a personal item, most members will save at least $18 per roundtrip on baggage fees and $36 if you fly with a companion.

If you fly Spirit roundtrip twice per year ($36+ saved in bag fees) and book at least one roundtrip on a fare sale ($22+ saved), then you should probably join the $9 Fare Club. Do the math, and see if you get more in benefits than you pay as a membership fee.

However even if it makes sense to join, don’t join today. Wait until you need to purchase a Spirit ticket, so that your membership period extends as far out into the future as possible.

What about if you need to book one Spirit roundtrip, and you’re not sure if you’ll fly them again? If there’s an 11% or more chance you’ll need to book another Spirit roundtrip in the next two months, pay for the $20 trial membership. You’ll save $18 guaranteed on bags on the first roundtrip, and if you do book that second roundtrip, you’ll save another $18+.

Are there any $9 Fare Club members reading this post? How much money have you saved with membership?

Frontier Discount Den

The Frontier Discount Den only offers discounted airfare only, no savings on Frontier baggage fees. The Discount Den costs $50 per year, and membership renews automatically.

Certain sale fares are only available to club members, and the sale page says as much.

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Flight searches have a separate DenDeals column.

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Not all routes and flights offer discounts for club members.
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Discounted fares are available for up to six people on a member’s itinerary, as long as he is one of the passengers.

Again do the math, and see if you get more in benefits than you pas a membership fee.

Just like with the $9 Fare Club, don’t join today. Wait until you need to purchase a Frontier ticket, and choose the Discount Den price. You’ll be prompted to join then, which maximizes how far into the future your 12 month membership runs.
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Are there any Discount Den members reading this post? How much money have you saved with membership?


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17 COMMENTS

  1. I recently joined the $9 Fare club with spirit. I noticed when making a last minute reservation that the $9 fare club fares were much cheaper than the posted fare and there were two of us traveling so by signing up when booking that flight we saved about $160 total, which more than paid for the $60 membership fee.

    I currently live in Minneapolis but am relocating to Chicago. Spirit regularly has very good $9 fare club fares on this route and I’ve been back and forth many weekends in the past month and have saved so much money.

    Do I love flying Spirit? Absolutely not. But I love saving money and love only having to pay for what I need (didn’t need a bag for any of the recent quick trips).

    I don’t know how Spirit makes money on the MSP-ORD route, round trip fares are regularly available at $64 round trip all inclusive. But I’ll take it!

    • Don’t worry about their bottom line. They seems to make plenty of money! Glad it’s working out so well for you.

  2. I was a member of Spirit $9 for a while, but have found that the better value with Spirit more often is to purchase tickets AT THE AIRPORT ticket counter, where they don’t charge you their various “fees.” This can save ~$40 or so off the general public online round-trip fare, which typically works out better than the $9 club fare. Of course, I also typically can travel with just a “personal item” so I don’t realize any savings from the baggage. So, YMMV based on personal travel habits.

    Discount DEN is too new to really judge the value. Keeping my eyes on it for the future, though!

    • Yeah, Allegiant (at least used to) charges less at the airport too. Obviously it costs them more to sell tickets at the airport, but they know not many people will take advantage.

  3. While I did secure the Spirit credit card, I just don’t know about the $9 club. Just don’t want to waste the >20,000 miles in my account. One negative on usage of Spirit mileage to fly, the additional fee can be pricey.

    I must either travel to Chicago or KC to fly with Spirit and then figure out how to return to St. Louis. Yesterday, I noticed that Megabus stopped the route between St. Louis and KC. Also Megabus low fares between cities seem to be few and far in-between. In regard to Amtrak, I recently traveled between Chicago and D.C. with another trip to St. Louis. All three trips ran late; but people are booking and riding Amtrak.

  4. I just joined Frontier’s Den Deals for a trip from LA to Denver. Let me start off by saying that this is an annual trip that my boyfriend and I take, so I figured the cost of the one year membership would theoretically pay for 2 years worth of discounted flights at the very least to Denver, if not more destinations.

    I broke down our options base on with or without the Den Deal membership. We basically saved $31, which, if used twice in one year then canceled, would theoretically save us $62, which comes out to more than what it cost us in the first place, and that’s only if we use the Den Deal for Denver. Here’s my breakdown:

    Option 1 (Flights + 1 checked bag)
    Flights: $98 per person round trip
    Seat choices – $9 each person each way – $18 round trip each person
    Checked bag: $30 for each checked bag – check 1
    Personal item: 1 backpack each – free

    Total (including taxes and fees) round trip for Option 1: $292.99

    Option 2 (Den Deals + 1 checked bag)
    Den Deals annual fee: $49.99
    Flights: $58 per person round trip
    Seat choices – $9 each person each way – $18 round trip each person
    Checked bag: $30 per bag per direction –

    Total (including taxes and fees) round trip for Option 2: $261.99

    In the end, without the Den Deal (and before seat picking, taxes and fees) the round trip price per person was still ridiculously low, definitely the cheapest I’ve ever seen it in the past several years of making this trip. I think last year we ended up paying twice Option 2’s amount to fly Southwest. True, your bags fly free on Southwest and you don’t have to pay for your seat each way for each person, but Frontier’s prices still trumped Southwest’s prices by more than $100 each way for the same dates.

    Hope that helped! Happy hunting!

  5. Joined Spirit’s $9 club yesterday (Actually, my wife did, but I do the family’s bookings). Due to a death in the family, the last minute flight discount for (the specific last-minute) one way ticket was $60 each, so obviously, needing to purchase two tickets, I purchased it (a full year for $60). I’ve purchased a 60 day $20 membership in the past when it was offered as part of a booking. This time, I needed to make the booking already being a member, I only fly Spirit because it’s very convenient due to its non-stops to Myrtle Beach from Philadelphia and Atlantic City. I agree with Scott, that I have no problem with their nickel-and-diming because it’s clearly disclosed, and can compare to a full service airline like American.
    Beware, with auto-renewal of the membership, I went to cancel on day 60 (when I had a 60 day membership), but they had already charged my card for the membership renewal. I will mark my calendar for September 24, 2017. (I will probably lose my calendar though. Ha!!)

  6. About how many Discount Den seats are available on a flight? (I know: the airline won’t divulge, but you probably have a clue.) We have a group for a July RT that could book in batches of six (per DD member) when the reservation window opens in January.

  7. I just bought aa home in Cape Coral FL and would like to travel from Philadelphia, PA to Fort Myers airport often. I don’t see options for this flight, though. I would also like to travel on a Fri evening and return on Sun evening most times and occasionally add a day either way (Fri-Mon or Thurs-Sun) so I don’t have to take time off of work. Any ideas?

  8. Though I find the FAs and the inability to marry certain segments the two biggest pains, I rather like that none of their seats recline.

  9. Can anyone tell me why all Frontier non-seasonal prices are “Discount Den” only and do not offer any prices for non club people? Does this mean Frontier will only accept reservations from current “Den” members or is it that they want every passenger to have to pay the club membership fee just to fly with them? Thanks.

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