US ultra-discounter Frontier Airlines is again taking cues from European carriers by guaranteeing open middle seats in the two front rows of all its aircraft. 

Chief executive Barry Biffle compared the planned configuration to ”European business class, like Lufthansa where effectively they block the middle seat” during JP Morgan’s Industrial’s Conference on 12 March. 

Frontier’s so-called UpFront Plus seats are now available for booking across its fleet of narrobody Airbus jets, with flights featuring the blocked middle seats launching on 10 April, the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) says. 


Source: Frontier Airlines

Frontier now plans to offer four cabin classes on all of its flights, including its new UpFront Plus seating 

”Customers in UpFront Plus will enjoy a window or aisle seat with extra leg room and a guaranteed empty middle seat, providing additional personal space and comfort at an exceptional value,” the carrier says. 

”We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and we tried during Covid, but got a lot of push-back,” Biffle says. “If you remember that little incident – people thought we were profiting off Covid, even though you could go buy a first-class seat with other people. We got accused, so we pulled it back.” 

“We thought it had been enough time, so we are re-introducing it,” he adds. 

Biffle says that Frontier is expecting a “good revenue boost” from the new seating arrangement. It now offers four seating options on flights – Standard, Preferred, Premium and UpFront Plus. 

Frontier operates nearly 140 jets, all Airbus A320-family aircraft. 

The new seating strategy is not the first time Frontier has taken a page from the playbook of European carriers. 

In October, Biffle said that Frontier was shifting its network and capacity strategies to include more out-and-back flights, making operations less susceptible to chain-reaction, multi-city disruptions caused by weather and air traffic control-related delays. 

He pointed specifically to Ireland’s Ryanair and Hungary’s Wizz Air as examples, saying at the time, “We are going to go straight into a best-in-class ULCC model of Europe. We’re finally at a size and scale where that makes sense… We will be in a situation where we don’t have anywhere near as many multi-day trips.”

The carrier has also been cutting “unprofitable flying” to oversaturated US vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando, seeking to differentiate itself from competing low-cost carriers by focusing on underserved markets.