Skip to main content

Two of the Worst-Ranked Airlines Are Merging and Will Upcharge You

Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines are merging to create a larger ultra-low-cost air carrier, but is it really a cheaper deal?

Two of the worst-ranked airlines are merging to form a new discount air carrier that will likely upsell you on everything you can think of.

Spirit Airlines  (SAVE) - Get Free Report and Frontier Airlines  (ULCC) - Get Free Report, which last month ranked second and third respectively behind JetBlue  (JBLU) - Get Free Report as the worst airlines in a Wall Street Journal survey, on Monday announced a merger valued at $6.6 billion.

The deal calls for Frontier Airlines to buy a 51.5% interest in the new entity for $2.9 billion of cash and stock, as well as assumption of debt and leases. Spirit equity holders would own 48.5% of the new combined airline.

Spirit Airlines

The merger is expected to close in the second half, subject to completion of regulatory review and approval of Spirit's stockholders. Frontier's controlling stockholder has already approved the merger, according to a statement from the two airlines.

Sharp Competition in Low-Cost Flights

The transaction will create an even larger ultra-low-cost airline that will try to compete against the world's largest low-cost air carrier, Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Free Report.  Southwest ranked as the third-best overall airline behind Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Free Report and Alaska Air Group  (ALK) - Get Free Report in the Journal survey.

But will the merger actually make the cost to fly the new no-frills Frontier/Spirit air carrier cheaper in the long run?

"Together, Frontier and Spirit expect to change the industry for the benefit of consumers, bringing more ultra-low fares to more travelers in more destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, including major cities as well as underserved communities" the airlines claimed in the statement.

Female Pilots File Discrimination Charges Against Frontier Airlines

The airlines offer some of the lowest prices on airline tickets -- but they then charge passengers for other services such as seat selection (if they don't want to sit in a middle seat) or for carry-on and checked baggage. A small personal item can be brought on the plane. Spirit has even charged passengers for checking in at the airport.

Both airlines don't offer complimentary snacks or drinks, but they will gladly charge you for them. And leg room is often about 5 or 6 inches tighter than standard airline flights, according to a Nerdwallet report.

Southwest, on the other hand, offers low-cost air tickets, as well as many free services. The airline doesn't charge for a personal item or carry-on bag and the first two checked bags are free. It doesn't charge a flight-change or cancellation fee and soft drinks are free, according to travel charges listed on its website.

And JetBlue offers free wi-fi on all its flights.