The first time I flew Frontier, boy was I angry.

I had booked a redeye from San Diego to Atlanta. Usually, my airline of choice is Delta. But, in this case, I had won a $100 Frontier certificate in the atrium of the Atlanta airport while on a business trip several months prior. You know those glass boxes with money flying around in them that you see at trade shows? Well, they had one and I couldn’t resist. I ended up winning a hundred bucks in Frontier credit so was using it for this flight.

My frustration with Frontier began in the departure area at the airport. First, it was with my luggage. You see, I always carry a small bag, with the idea that I’ll put it in the overhead compartment or that, if I wait long enough to board, my usual travel hack will kick in – the overhead compartments will be full, and Delta will simply check it for me. So I was shocked to find out that you can’t do free carry-on with Frontier – I’d have to pay a whopping $60 to get my small bag back to Atlanta (to Frontier’s credit, they have now made that policy more obvious during the purchase process).

Next up, it was the snack situation onboard. “I’m sorry – what? $4.99 for tea and a cookie?”

Lastly, it was the seats. NO. RECLINE. ON. A. REDEYE.

For the love of all things sacred – in what world does someone create an airline and cram people on to a redeye flight with seats that don’t recline???

Anyhow, this solidified for me that I would never, ever (EVER) fly Frontier ever again. Call me bougie – I don’t care. It was just never going to happen.

That is…until our family of four decided to take an impromptu trip from Atlanta to San Francisco during the week of Thanksgiving this year. Option A was pay $650 a head on Delta for a total of $2,600. Option B was to Skiplag the flight (if you haven’t tried Skiplagged, you should totally check them out), which would mean taking Frontier on the outgoing leg and Delta on the return and pay a mere $271 per person for a total of $1,150. As this was an unplanned trip and we were doing this trip on a shoestring, I had to admit that option B was a bit of a no-brainer.

But I knew something in me would need to change to make this trip a success. I knew I’d need to change my mindset around my previous experience. While I couldn’t change the story of what happened, it would be up to me to create a new experience for this trip for the sake of everyone involved. I knew that being an angry woman wouldn’t serve anyone.

I started with myself.

My original thought: “I can’t believe I have to schlep my family all the way to the West Coast on a plane where they charge for water and the seats don’t recline.”

My altered thought: “I get to take my kids to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and hang out with family over school break.”

Ah, much better.

Then, since I was aware that my negative energy had affected my kids, I reminded them – “we’re pulling you out of school on Friday so we can start our trip. Remember – this is not Virgin Atlantic. This is a no-frills airline that’s more akin to a school bus in the sky so don’t expect anything fancy. Also, I’m packing snacks – we’re not spending $40 on two rounds of OJ or bottled water on this plane. But…you’ll have the luxury of spending five hours playing video games in the sky. The alternate is spending two hours on an actual school bus going to school and another seven hours in school. We cool?”

Kids original thought: “I have to go on that airline? It’s going to be so uncomfortable!”

Kids altered thought: “I get to skip school and play video games all day and then I get to hang out with my cousins, aunts and uncles all week – yeah!”

Once at the airport, I made sure that all devices were fully charged (because, ya know, no inflight entertainment), everyone’s bellies were full and that water bottles were filled.

Once on board, my husband commented that as the extra padding had been removed from the seat backs and since the tray tables were half-sized, there was actually a tad more legroom. I had to agree. This is something I might not have noticed if I’d still been stuck in “I have to” mode.

We all settled in to our seats, pulled out our tablets and readied ourselves for the flight. The boys played games while I settled in with a good book (which btw was Michelle Obama’s Becoming – awesome read).

Half way through, we snacked on the luxury road-trip snacks I’d purchased in the clearance section the previous day at TJMaxx – Sanders salted caramel chocolates, chocolate covered gummies and bags of chips. Because we get to choose our experience and that means we get fancy snacks!

Same airline. Same baggage policy. Same non-reclining seats. Totally different experience.

Sure, this time I knew what to expect so was better prepared. But ultimately, had I just gone with “I get to own my own business and fly around the world”, the original experience would have proved to be a much better one. Heck, I might have even dosed off to sleep with sweet dreams – who knows?

My challenge to you this week is this…

Every time you’re faced with a negative thought about someone or something, notice when “I have to” comes to the forefront of your mind. Find something about the situation that can help change the language in your head to “I get to” and see how that changes your outlook.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you!


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