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This day had to come eventually. Frontier Airlines is doing away with handing out free oven-baked cookies on flights, starting at the end of this month.
Of course this sucks. Who doesn't love free stuff on flights when such things are quickly going extinct? Frontier served nearly 700,000 cookies every month! We feel for the flight attendants, who'll likely spend the next many months politely informing flyers of the change, when they ask where their free cookie went. Though this is sad news, Frontier has recently done a few positive things to balance it out, like the lowering of fees and the addition of Fat Tire beer to the onboard drinking menu.
So how do Frontier frequent flyers feels about this? We asked Jill Smith, domestic jetsetter, for her thoughts on this breaking news:
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Free airline snacks are far and few between but there are some so good, we don’t want to wait for another flight to taste them again. Luckily, we’ve done some sleuthing and found our favorites in grocery stores and specialty shops around the country. Found your favorite in-flight goodie on the road? Let us know!
· Constant Craving: Biscoff Cookies
Delta Airlines has raised the hackles of many a customer, but you’ll find few willing to complain about the sweet, crunchy, cinnamony goodness of the Biscoff cookie. We were thrilled to find them in our cookie aisle, but even better? The new Biscoff spread made up of 50% of Biscoff cookies. There’s even a new crunchy version with chunks of cookies in it (swoon!). We’ve tossed aside our peanut butter and Nutella with scorn and slathered this goodness on everything from toast to English muffins. Yeah, it’s a problem.
Where to Get ‘Em: The cookies have been spotted in Walgreens, Ralphs, and even Walmart, but the spread can be found in the peanut butter section in stores like Shop Rite, Kroger, Hannaford, Wegmans, and even on Amazon.com.
If you like furry animals and chances to win stuff, then we have a contest right up your alley. Frontier Airlines is looking for a little help in naming their latest animal mascot. Right now the new badger on the block is nameless, but the airline did gather a few suggestions from residents of Wisconsin. After all, the cheese heads know a few things about badgers as well.
Cookie, Buddy, and Bella—a possible ode to the Twilight series—are the three options from which you can choose. Technically the airline wants opinions from Wisconsin residents only, but you can always just throw in a Milwaukee zip code to put in your two cents. However, we’re not going to take the blame if you get denied the grand prize.
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Republic Airways Holdings is the lucky bidder that took over Frontier on October 1, 2009, after Frontier hit bankruptcy proceedings. Only a few months prior, Republic had purchased Midwest Airlines. Today Republic held press conferences in Milwaukee (home of Midwest) and Denver (home of Frontier) to announce the joint branding and marketing efforts for all three names to become one: FRONTIER. And what's more, Midwest's symbol of in-flight hospitality, chocolate chip cookies, will remain!
More Frontier news, after the jump!
Last week we were busy wondering what was going on with Frontier and Midwest Airlines, and now we thankfully know a little bit more regarding their future. Unfortunately we’re still not sure if the Frontier’s spokesanmials will survive the upcoming changes.
Republic Airways—they’re the ones that now own both Frontier and Midwest—is ready to announce something on April 13. The consensus is that they’re going to reveal a unified branding across the two airlines, and hopefully that will somehow include both cute animals and freshly baked cookies. According to a Republic internal memo, the airline plans to “reveal our 1 promise, 1 vision, and 1 goal for the new brand.”
In order to figure out what's happening at Frontier Airlines, we need to check out the deal with their airline sibling Midwest Airlines and their airline parent Republic Airways Holdings. Hopefully there won’t be a family feud anytime soon, but certain family members might be moving out of the house soon enough.
Just last week Delta added a little note to their website to indicate that Midwest Airlines would no longer be part of their SkyMiles program. So as of June 7 there won’t be an opportunity to earn any SkyMiles on Midwest Airlines flights, and since Delta doesn’t offer freshly baked cookies like Midwest does, this makes the news even worse. Frontier Airlines already offers the ability to earn miles on Midwest Airlines as well as AirTran, and we’re thinking that Midwest is ditching Delta to maintain uniformity across the Republic Airways brands.
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For those sick of endless delays and crowds at Chicagoland airports, a little help might be on the way. Actually, it’s already here, but it all depends on whether or not you agree with the marketing. The General Mitchell International Airport—it’s the airport in Milwaukee—wants to serve as a solid third option for those looking to head out from the Midwest.
It’s not as close as Newark is to Manhattan, but a 90 minute drive into Wisconsin isn’t that bad of an option. The airport saw a record number of passengers at the end of 2009, and they want to continue pulling in travelers well into the next decade.
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The newest Zagat Guide on airlines is up. 5,900 fliers averaging 17 flights per year were polled about 16 domestic and 66 foreign airlines. After all the results were tallied the major US winners - rated on comfort, service, and food - turned out to be Virgin America and low cost carrier Midwest Airlines. If you're just flying coach your best bet is apparently JetBlue, which tallied up 19 out of 30 points. And if your top concern for some reason is your luggage, Southwest should be your airline of choice. Full results are posted at the Zagat site.
In contrast to when we covered this survey two years ago, travelers also found room for some grudging compliments: "consumers feel some marginal improvement in comfort and service." That's actually fair given how airlines have been consistently improving at last their outward numbers. We never tire of telling you that civilian aviation is the safest it's ever been, while September had the highest on-time rate since 2003.
If you're planning to head south of the border on Mexicana later this year, don't be surprised if you find Best Buy receipts and Sbarro packaging stuck down in your seat cushion, as you might be hitching a ride on one of Midwest Airlines' former fleet. According to the Chicago Tribune, Boeing has just agreed to lease 25 fuel-efficient, twin-engine 717 aircraft to Mexicana and their LCC, ClickAir. Of these, 16 will be coming straight from flying the Midwest skies and therefore begin something like a prolonged vacation in Mexico.
The 104-passenger planes are no longer made by Boeing, although popular with travelers, and will thus be passed around probably a few more times before heading to the great scrap pile in the sky. Sadly, there's no word on whether or not the planes will be haunted by the ghost of defunct carriers past.
· Midwest Airlines' Boeing 717s to Go to Mexicana [Chicago Tribune]
· Despite Death Watch, Midwest Remains Zagat Favorite [Jaunted]
· Midwest Airlines Coverage [Jaunted]
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The annual Zagat Survey look at airlines is out today, and leather seats are in. Despite a monumentally rough year, Midwest Airlines is still the favorite "mid-sized" airline for coach of the nearly 10,000 people Zagat polled this year. Among bigger players, JetBlue took the top slot with Southwest coming in second. Yep, those chairs are leather, leather and leather.
Midwest, however, didn't show up in the list of winners for "mid-sized" premium product--which isn't surprising given that passengers now have to pay extra for the swanky seats that used to be free. Virgin America, instead, pulled first place for first class; in-seat massages probably helped, uh, finesse the results.
Among legacy carriers, Continental did better than its peers, apparently because survey respondents think free airline food is priceless. (We'd call it worthless.) For international trips, Singapore was the top pick either up front or in coach, but you won't go wrong, Zagat says, with either Emirates or Cathay Pacific either.
Pilots and flight attendants working for Midwest Airlines have been picketing and protesting the carrier's September decision to hire Republic Airways to operate a number of flights on Embraer 170s instead of Midwest's signature 717s. As a part of that contract, 270 jobs were cut, though Midwest says the 125 pilots that were let go will be re-hired after they are trained on the smaller jets. The pilots aren't buying that.
But starting today the pilot's union and the airline will enter arbitration to sort out the mess. A different union representing flight attendants will sit down for similar talks starting Saturday, the Journal-Sentinel reports. Will this be the end of the animosity between the airline and its workforce? Doubtful. And no matter what agreement is made, it likely won't fix the rapidly eroding quality of the Midwest product.
Still, at least one person must be welcoming this news: CEO Timothy Hoeksema has been enduring pilot picketing at his house.
[Photo of a protest at Casa Hoeksema: Dontoutsourcemidwest.com]
A friend of the blog Upgrade: Travel Better has finally had it with Midwest Airlines and its strategy of cutting its way to survival. In an epic letter to CEO Timothy Hoeksema, a miffed passenger outlines how Schlitz ruined its beer while trying to cut costs, eventually turning customers off and ruining the brand. Same thing's happening to Midwest, he argues:
Midwest has long been known for the comfort of its seating and the quality of its service. I read some time ago that Midwest was refitting its planes to offer two types of seats, but the implication was that the smaller seats were for cheaper, discount tickets and tourist travel, not business travelers. However, you recently decided to start charging an extra $50 fee for the types of seats that were standard on your flights just last month. ...
On my [recent] flight to Washington, there were nine people in the “Signature Seating” section. On my return, exactly three people. The back sections of both flights were full. The difference was so obvious that I’m surprised that, while you were refitting the 717s, you didn’t add a tail wheel to address the potential load imbalance.
In other words, it appears that your new seating charges netted you $450 in extra fees going to DC, and $150 on the return.
Hey, with 600 extra bucks in the bank, maybe Hoeksema can host a BBQ and make nice with the pilots' union before the airline implodes!