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You Can Have Cheap Airfare Or Arrive On Time, But Not Both

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While sometimes it seems like discount airlines are about to impose a fee for not being punched in the face, it’s true that ultra low-cost carriers do have to cut corners somewhere. It turns out that it’s really expensive to get planes full of people anywhere on time.

Frontier, which stranded customers in the wrong cities after not canceling enough flights before a blizzard, is not especially worried about strict adherence to its schedule.

“[W]e don’t necessarily believe that it’s cost-effective to end up in the top quartile for on-time performance,” Frontier senior vice president Daniel Shurz told Bloomberg News. Frontier ranks tenth out of all U.S. carriers, if you’re wondering.

Spirit, meanwhile, is still in negotiations with its pilots, which means that every day flights are canceled because there’s no pilot available. The company has accused its pilots of a deliberate work slowdown.

The third ultra-discount carrier, Allegiant, is transitioning to a new fleet of planes after a history of terrifying mechanical failures.

Comparing its records to other airlines that use the same planes, Allegiant’s planes broke down more, a sign of possible poor maintenance. It will be a few years until all of the old MD-80s are out of circulation, and mechanical problems also mean delayed and canceled flights.

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