Quick Trips

Quick Trips: Enjoy a Couples Getaway in Tucson

Frontier Airlines

Some Thoughts on Frontier Airlines

Airfare out of our Midwestern hometown isn’t the lowest so I usually extend my search to other major metropolitan cities within driving distance.

But lo and behold we found tickets for Frontier Airlines deal from our home city that was $191 per person…roundtrip! Better still, the flight times didn’t require us to get up before the rooster crows and had us arriving to Phoenix before dinner. What more could a penny pinching, non-early riser like myself ask for?!?! I jumped on the opportunity thinking we won the discount airline travel lottery…until clicking onto the second page.

Quick Trips Tip #1: The Low Price Isn’t the Final Price

I was aware of the extra fees these carriers charge, but didn’t realize how fast they add up. Here is a breakdown on final cost:

  • $112 base fare
  • $38 for 1 checked bag
  • $35 for 1 carry-on bag
  • $20 for seat selection
  • $79 in taxes/carrier-imposed fees
  • $12 for travel insurance

That equals a total of $296 per person. I opted for what Frontier Airlines calls their Perks bundle which cost about $40 extra, but included 1 checked bag, 1 carry-on, guaranteed seat selection and priority boarding. The total cost of airfare still beat the price of the major airline carriers as well as our go-to option of the major metropolitan hubs. So we still won the budget game in the end, but learned a new lesson that the sticker price has more lurking in the shadows.

Quick Trips Tip #2: Make Sure the Discount Airline Fees are Worth It

When considering a discount travel provider for your next family trip, do the following:

  • Research what other major carriers like Delta, American and United are offering for the same route. Use the resulting price ranges to set your budget.
  • Find the lowest fare on the discount carrier and start adding up the fees.
  • Pay particular attention to the baggage fee rules. While a standard checked bag may be $35 per person, a heavier bag can cost up to $60.
  • Consider any bundle packages that include bags, seat selection and other options as this can help smooth out the add-on fees
Quick Trips Tip #3: Maximize Your Deal and Experience

Here is a pros/cons list of our Frontier Airlines experience after the trip:

Pros

  • The cost per ticket was the lowest hands down by $150-$200.
  • A direct flight to our final destination. No needing to drive 3 hours to a major airport or long layovers.

Cons

  • Extra fees for seat selection and carry-on bags.
  • Charges for beverages and snacks (except for a small cup of water)
  • No plugins to charge technology or access to WiFi.
  • Seats offer minimum amount of cushion making it a less comfortable ride. Reclining seats are offered in only 4 rows at additional cost.

While there are more cons than pros, the savings and no layover outweigh the drawbacks in some cases. However, consider the following to make your quick trips more enjoyable for all:

  • Purchase Frontier’s first level Perks bundle so the seat selection and one carry-on bag fee are included. If not, the individual charges will raise the cost closer to the standard fare of most other major brands.
  • Bring beverages and snacks with you to tide your kids over. Purchasing these items on the plane cost less than in the airport, but not its not enough grub to sustain for a long flight.
  • Fully charge the tablets, laptops and other tech and make sure they are pre-loaded with entertainment. We all know what a lifesaver these can be with anxious or overexcited youngins.
  • Bring an inflatable small pillow or headrest to add a little more comfort to your sitting experience. 

For a budget curmudgeon like me, this deal was an attractive one for a couples getaway. But take extra precaution when traveling with your family so the no frills don’t become a headache.

Check out these sites for the latest info on discount airline fees for quick trips or family vacations:

Quick Trips Tip #4: Exploring the Wonders of Tucson

The great thing about Tucson is that the area’s natural beauty and unique culture offer very wallet-friendly options to keep everyone busy for days.

Sabino Canyon was just as awe-inspiring. This is a very popular destination with a visitor’s center and trolley that will take you up the mountain a ways. The road up Sabino Canyon was once open to the general public, but the National Parks Service put this to an end in order to protect the natural landscape. So you can walk the entire way up or take the trolley shortcut for a fee. The trail is a little less rocky than our Finger Rock walk making it more kid-friendly, but watch the signs closely as the paths aren’t frequently marked.

Family Travel by Air

Pima Air & Space Museum

The new bride and groom had the awesome idea of hosting their reception at the Pima Air & Space Museum. For someone who played Flight Simulator and learned everything about Chuck Yeager as a kid, this was heaven! We toured acres of military, commercial and former presidential aircraft from throughout the ages. The warehouse included many other classic and obscure planes I’ve never seen before. Shown above is the Bumble Bee built by Robert Starr. It’s first flight was on January 28, 1984 earning it a Guinness Book of World Record as the smallest aircraft ever flown. 

Loads of Fun at Low Impact to the Wallet

The great thing about Tucson is that it offers a host of natural and cultural wonders that cost little to nothing for quick trips. Our Finger Rock hike only cost the price of gas for a 15 minute drive from our resort. Sabino Canyon is managed by the National Parks Service requiring a $5 per vehicle parking fee. From there, you can walk for free to various trail heads or take a trolley up 3 miles for $10 per adult and $5 per child 3-12 years old. Depending upon the age of your children, the total cost can average between $40-$80 for the whole family. That’s way less than a day at Disney or most other popular theme parks.

The same goes for many of the museums which charge up to $20 per adult. Depending on how you schedule things, you can easily get by spending $100 or less per day on fun things to do in Tucson. Check out these solid lists of Top Things to do in Tucson for more affordable, active fun ideas:

Money Crashers: Best 39 Fun Things to Do & See in Tucson, Arizona

Atlas Obscura: 22 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Tucson, Arizona

17 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Tucson, AZ

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