Frontier to penalize passengers booking airfare through third-party sites

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Polly the Parrot wins Frontier Airlines new animal search. April 18, 2012

If you need to buy a plane ticket for the holidays, there is a cheaper way to go — directly to the airline’s website. 

Denver-based Frontier Airlines has announced it will be offering more deals and benefits to passengers who purchase fares from their websites instead of going through sites like Priceline, Expedia or Orbitz. 

Frontier, which changed its website to FlyFrontier.com on Wednesday, says it will penalize travelers who book through third-party sites by not allowing them to pick their seats until check in. Passengers not booking on FlyFrontier.com will also earn just 50 percent of their frequent flyer miles.

FlyFrontier.com will also be the only place customers can book Frontier’s Classic and Classic Plus fares, which include two complimentary checked bags and free access to premium seating options.

The problem, according to Frontier, is that airlines’ profits have shrunk while other parts of the travel business — from caterers and maintenance firms to actual airports — have done very well. For instance, Frontier spokesperson Lindsey Carpenter said, comparison sites like Pricline, Expedia and Orbitz may make an effort to mark down their prices for consumers, but they charge the airlines a markup fee of around $20 to $25 roundtrip.

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