Frontier Airlines is going to make Pittsburgh International Airport look a little wilder next spring.
The ultra-low-cost carrier will begin nonstop service to Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham in May, joining existing service to Denver and Orlando, tripling Frontier’s Pittsburgh network. That means more Frontier planes — and more appearances of the airline’s famous animals on its aircraft tails — at PIT.
Each plane in Frontier’s fleet features a unique animal on its tail. And with a current fleet of 135 aircraft, according to Planespotters.net, Frontier has a wide variety of species frolicking on its planes.
How it all started
The animal tails have been a part of Frontier’s branding since it first began operations in 1994. The Denver-based airline began adding animals to the tails of its early Boeing 737 fleet on regional routes from Denver International Airport.
More animal tails joined the Frontier family in the 2000s when the airline expanded across the U.S. It also transitioned from 737s to newer Airbus aircraft that featured updated livery but kept the animal tails.
As Frontier grew nationally, the carrier used the tails to market itself to travelers. The carrier ran humorous radio and television advertisements of its animal tails talking to each other, such as when Flip the Bottlenose Dolphin would always wonder how he kept getting routed to Chicago instead of sunny destinations or when Hector the Otter promoted the airline beginning its first flights to Mexico.
In September 2014, Frontier announced it would transition to the ultra-low-cost carrier model and revealed its present livery. The animal tails were not only retained once again but were enhanced with a larger, modernized look. In addition, the new livery included the names of the animals more prominently underneath the cockpit.
Chinook the Gray Wolf, a Frontier A320neo, taxis to its gate at Pittsburgh International Airport on July 5, 2022 (Photo by Evan Dougherty).
Frontier’s animal tails today have evolved into a way to promote the airline’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and fulfill its commitment to “telling the stories of the incredible animals that call the oceans, forests and plains home to bring awareness and education to the public,” according to the airline.
Since its transition to a ULCC and new branding with the animal tails, Frontier has aggressively renewed its fleet, quickly taking delivery of new Airbus A320neo, A321 and A321neo aircraft with lower fuel burn and reduced operating costs. In addition, Frontier has the youngest fleet of any major U.S. airline, with an average fleet age of 4.2 years as of 2021, as reported by FlightGlobal.
And while Frontier has added to its fleet, it has also grown its animal tail family.
Wilbur the Whitetail was Frontier’s first A320neo delivered from Airbus in October 2016. Registered N301FR, Wilbur the Whitetail also represents Pennsylvania’s state animal, the whitetail deer (and would be an ideal candidate to operate Frontier’s inaugural flight between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on May 16, if we may make a suggestion).
Other land animals in the Frontier family include Sage the Pygmy Rabbit, an A320neo registered N395FR; Chinook the Gray Wolf, registered N369FR; and Cubby the Bear, an A321 registered N714FR.
Frontier also boasts an extensive family of sky animals on tails such as Betty the Bluebird, Flo the Flamingo and Steve the Eagle. It also has a lineup of aquatic animal tails including Fan the Sea Lion, Seymour the Walrus and Chopper the Great White Shark.
Additionally, Frontier’s family of tails also brings recognition to endangered species around the world with tails such as Hugh the Manatee, Hamber the California Condor and Kit the Kermode Bear.
As Frontier proudly showcases the largest lineup of animal tails it has ever had, its family is only going to get bigger. Frontier’s fleet renewal plan calls for more than 230 planes to join its fleet through 2029, according to AviationSource News, enabling continued rapid growth throughout the carrier’s network.
The full lineup of Frontier’s animal tail family can be found at the airline’s website.
Wilbur the Whitetail, Frontier’s first A320neo, taxis to the runway at Pittsburgh International Airport on May 21, 2020. (Photo by Evan Dougherty).