Every time we travel on a plane with an autistic child, we need to consider what is best for our family. All experiences are based on our own travel and we receive no compensation from Frontier Airlines for this post. We write all about family travel focusing on the unique challenges of traveling with a child with autism. This article will discuss our experience while booking one of the largest budget airlines and if Frontier Airlines is good for autistic children.
Is Frontier Airlines good for autistic children?
Yes, it is a budget airline with lots of options for direct flights. This means less distress with connecting flights and a shorter time en route. Since children can fly free (more on that later), we can often spend more money on providing support for our child at the vacation destination itself. However, discuss your child’s diagnosis with the service desk prior to boarding the plane if you have any concerns.
Disclosure: I may get a small amount of money from any affiliate links that you click. However, I only recommend products that our family loves.
Can autistic children fly on airplanes?
Autistic children can fly on all airplanes and airlines. However, it is crucial to communicate with the airline any specific accommodations that your child may need. The Transportation Security Association (TSA) provides a service (TSA Cares) that provides additional assistance for passengers with medical or neurodivergent conditions. Visit the link ahead of time and you can even call ahead
If you’re looking for ways to soothe your stressed out kiddo, we have some experience with supporting neurodivergent needs. We rounded up our favorite sensory-friendly tools in the Typically Twitterpated Amazon Store.
Frontier Airlines: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
We are accustomed to autism family travel. We’ve flown Frontier Airlines many times to Orlando and Denver. The experience has usually been tolerable but occasionally we’ve had a rough time.
On one particular flight, I flew alone with both boys. My son was particularly frustrated with his earphones and kept unplugging them. The iPads volume was low, but the flight attendant became angry and yelled directly at my son to plug in the headphones. He became extremely agitated and was vocalizing and stimming. She demanded that he calm down and that I hold him to quiet and soothe him.
If you know anything about autism, you know that sometimes holding someone during an emotional outburst is one of the worst triggers. In his case, he buried his face in my chest and blocked out the noise and lights, but this could have ended very badly. Autism doesn’t let my sweet son choose how to process the flow of sensory information.
What are the sensory conditions for Frontier Airlines?
Not great. Come prepared. Bring your child’s favorite drinks and snacks, bring earphones and a tablet, and bring a safe toy or weighted blanket to help soothe your child on this flight. Flying with autism can be hard- but at least it’s free on Frontier Airlines.
The Frontier planes are often small and cramped, and you have to pay for everything. While there are a few gluten-free choices, my picky eaters wouldn’t touch any of them. If you’re looking for how to fly with an autistic child, bring a backpack full of goodies.
Let’s talk about flying on Frontier airlines with autism.
Is Frontier Airlines Really That Bad?
Frontier Airlines is notorious for canceling flights on short notice or delaying them by hours. That is not always helpful for children who find comfort in strict routines.
I had a flight set to arrive in the afternoon the day before I have to work and my children needed to go to school. My children and I were delayed terribly. We were supposed to arrive at 3 PM, and we wound up getting picked up at 11 PM.
I always give us a day of leeway now. On yet another flight, my son’s ears started to hurt, and he starts gently knocking his forehead with his fist. Another flight attendant told my son to stop. It’s frustrating because stimming is what calms him down and my son was nearly calm when the flight attendant intervened. In each of these cases, he wasn’t yelling, screaming, or hurting anyone.
We need to continue to advocate for a world with autism acceptance during travel.
How does Frontier Airlines Price their Flights?
Frontier is a great deal cheaper than most airlines. Unless you use all the bells and whistles of flying a commercial airline, you’re better off flying on a value airline. With Frontier, you only pay for the perks that you want. Do you always skip the snacks and drinks passed onboard? Great- Frontier will save you tons of money!
Most commercial airlines roll the cost of snacks and drinks right back into your ticket. If you fly Frontier, you are getting the bare bones on a budget. Since we are gluten-free and have specific drink preferences, it never made financial sense for us to be paying for it!
If you’re going to fly Frontier, you will likely not be bringing suitcases. Frontier charges by the bag and increases the price of each bag the closer you get to your flight. By squeezing clothes into a book bag, you can avoid paying these fees. You can carry two personal items for free, but be sure to refer to the Frontier website for the dimensions.
Child airfare prices were a product of yesteryear for domestic American flights. Finding a deal is possible, but it usually takes a ton of research and a little bit of good luck. The air industry has established a new normal– if they are two or older, there are no discounts, and no one flies free. Luckily, Frontier is changing the child policy and allowing kids to fly free.
Can kids fly free on Frontier Airlines?
The good news is that yes, they now can. While we’ve become pros at securing cheap flights, nothing beats free airfare for children.
The thought of flying at no cost sounds like a pipe dream. However, it is now possible due to Frontier Airlines’ new promotion: Kids Fly Free! For only $60, kids fly free all year by joining the Frontier Discount Den travel club.
Attention parents– this is not a drill. Your little children will fly free ALL year. There IS small print– notably limited dates (primarily Tuesdays and Wednesdays), you must purchase a membership to their discount club, and there is no guarantee how long that this will last.
But currently on Frontier Airlines?
- One child can fly free for every adult that flies through the Discount Den travel club.
- There is a caveat that children can only fly free on valid “Kids Fly Free” flights.
- You can use one Discount Den membership to purchase tickets for up to 6 people, as long as they are on the same reservation as you.
If you are planning any family trips this year, it is an amazing opportunity to check out! Their fares are absolutely free.
What is the child age limit for a flight ticket?
The child must be less than 15 years old on the date of travel to fly for free. Babies under two can always fly free on an adult’s lap but may be able to get their own seat under the rules of this promotion.
You cannot combine this deal with any promo code. The good news is that having the Discount Den gives you cheaper rates anyway!
Kids can fly free most Tuesdays and Wednesday’s. The offer is valid for specific dates.
Frequently Asked Questions
How airlines are making travel easier for autistic passengers
Airlines have a long way to go to support autistic passengers. However, Pittsburgh International Airport opened a series of sensory rooms to help passengers decompress. Similar sensory suites opened at Seattle-Takoma and other airports across the U.S.
Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Boston airports run “practice flights” so families can become accustomed to flying before boarding. Unfortunately, they often focus on neurodivergent children and adults may be left in the lurch.
How to fly with an autistic child
If you’ve read the article and are worried about how to keep an autistic child calm on the plane, you know your child best. Keep your child’s preferences in mind when scheduling the flight- are they a morning person? Do they take a nap? Does their anxiety run higher in the evening? Take these into account when scheduling your flight and make sure to book a direct flight (if possible).
- Providing a visual schedule
- Communication tools
- Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Bringing favorite comfort possesions or toys
- Sensory tools like a weighted blanket
- Bring favorite electronics
- Pack their favorite snacks and drinks
- Practice good sleep hygiene- stick to your home routine.
- Locate play areas in airports
Is Frontier Airlines good for autistic children? So far, yes- we think so. While all airlines have a long way to go with how they treat autistic children, the price is right with Frontier.
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Great article! It’s disappointing to hear about the flight attendant’s reprimand. There should not only be training for special needs children (and adults), but their concerns should be addressed calmly to the parent, not the child,
I completely agree. It was a really hard moment.
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