Denver-based Frontier Airlines is selling special "Whole Enchilada" fares that are fully refundable, include complimentary checked baggage, and don't require any advance purchase.
What's the catch? Well, it's not a catch so much as the obvious: These special fares cost way more than the carrier's standard flight, albeit less than what a non-restricted refundable flight normally costs. A list of Frontier's Whole Enchilada fares shows that flights between Denver and airports such as Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago-Midway, and Spokane cost $199 each way. That's roughly double what you could pay for many of these same flights if you booked an economy ticket. A round-trip on Frontier between Denver and Atlanta, for example, will run as little as $239, all taxes and fees included. But if you book that $239 flight, you can't get a refund if your plans change, you'll pay extra if you want to check bags, and you'll have to deal with the other restrictions and fees that have become standard in air travel.
Like American Airlines' Boarding and Flexibility package, Frontier's Whole Enchilada fare bundles services rather than selling them a la carte. These super-sized fares are marketed as the opposite of the nickel-and-dime model, but regardless of how different the strategies and the products seem, their goals are exactly the same: getting as much money out of customers.
The question is: Do you prefer paying more upfront, or paying less and running the risk of getting nickel and dimed with fees later in the game?