Travel

The Most Memorable Moments in Frontier Airlines' First Quarter-Century

Frontier takes off for its 25th year of service.
Frontier takes off for its 25th year of service. Tomas Del Coro at Flickr
Frontier Airlines likes to bill itself as “Denver’s hometown airline,” and for all the hitches in its giddy-up over the years, it really is, from the original company that ran from 1950 through its dissolution in 1986, to the present-day company that took the old name and started up in 1994. The original Frontier began with four flights out of the old Stapleton Airport, filling a service gap left by Continental Airlines. It’s grown over the years to become the eighth-largest airline in the country — with some fits and starts along the way.

Westword wanted to help mark Frontier’s 25th anniversary — which the airline celebrated on July 5 — by looking back over the years of our coverage of its successes and its challenges, its good days and not-so-great ones. Happy birthday, Frontier, you old so-and-so.

click to enlarge Frontier Airlines' Boeing 737 in 1995. - AERO ICARUS AT FLICKR
Frontier Airlines' Boeing 737 in 1995.
Aero Icarus at Flickr
1994: Frontier Airlines begins with full-service flights…to North Dakota
When Continental Airlines cut flights in 1993, there was a service gap at then-Denver hub Stapleton Airport. And so Frontier was born…with four flights, all of which went to North Dakota: Bismarck, Fargo, Minot and Grand Forks. By the following year, less Dakota-minded heads prevailed, and Frontier established routes throughout the western U.S., primarily at smaller airports with less service, like Albuquerque, Billings, Bozeman, El Paso, Great Falls, Las Vegas, Missoula, Omaha and Tucson.

1999: Frontier goes coast-to-coast
Within five years of starting operations, Frontier expanded service to include flights covering both coasts and many stops in flyover country, too — all of them hubbed right here in Denver — which caused a lot of people around the nation to be able to say “I’ve been to Colorado…at least, I landed at the airport on my way to Vegas.”


2001: Frontier flies high
Right after the hubbub of Y2K turned out to be nothing more than a tale told by many idiots, Frontier was experiencing much success. Forbes magazine named it one of its fastest-growing companies back in 2001. By 2014-’15, however, it would top Forbes’s list of worst airlines.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen