Dealing With Frontier's Bankruptcy

Now that the airline with the fuzzy animals on their planes has also declared bankruptcy, you might be in the same position as reader Scott. Scott had Frontier cancel his flight and send him an email with a link to get a refund. While it’s nice that Frontier made the refund option easy, a refund doesn’t get Scott any closer to his destination, and a second ticket would cost Scott a bit more than he initially paid. Thanks to a little bit of research and 35 minutes on the phone, Scott was able to get Frontier to rebook him on a different airline. Find out how, inside.

I thought that you guys might be interested in this. In April, we booked a flight to Missoula, MT for June on Frontier Airlines. Now, we get this e-mail telling us that the service from Denver to Missoula has been canceled. Note, the e-mail offers a weblink where you can get a refund.

Here’s the problem. First, most travelers (including myself) don’t want a refund for a flight ticket, they want to get to their destination. Second, I checked the “Contract of Carriage” (http://www.frontierairlines.com/frontier/pdf/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf) which includes Rule 240 that lists the policy for flights that have been discontinued. The hierarchy of options for a traveler is: 1) get another flight on Frontier, 2) get a similar flight on another airline or 3) get a refund.

Seems like Frontier was trying to avoid having to rebook thousands of passengers on other airlines by simply providing a refund. For most goods and services refunds are fine, but airline tickets rise in price as the travel date gets closer. I searched for comparable flights and found that the cheapest ticket I could get was 75% more than what I paid in April.

Anyway, the e-mail also indicated that “should I need to contact customer service” I could call the 800 number. There was NO mention of possible rebooking. Of course I called the number, held for about 18 minutes then actually talked to a person! After another 35 minutes I was rebooked on United. No complaints there. However, I think that most people will simply click the e-mail, get a refund and be forced to pay exorbitant fees for late fares. I think this is pretty tricky by Frontier. They should have at least mentioned the fact that the flights could be rebooked.

Nice one, Scott. The airline provided the solution most advantageous to them and least helpful to you and you got what you wanted by being informed, proactive, and polite. And it just took half an hour! Having problems with any of the many failing airlines? If Scott’s approach doesn’t work for you, you can check out some different tactics here.

(photo: ATIS547)

Comments

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  1. ChipMcDougal says:

    Surprised the refund didn’t come with a free rowboat

  2. Noiddog says:

    Why isn’t PETA complaining about the obvious animal exploitation painted on the tail of this aircraft?

  3. azntg says:

    At least from the press releases, Frontier seemed to be like a business who wanted to at least try for customer service before burning up altogether in their bankruptcy proceedings.

    It’s still going to get ugly though.

  4. JustaConsumer says:

    Frontier has always been customer focused.

  5. rrapynot says:

    I don’t get this story? Frontier have filed for Chapter 11. It’s what the big legacy carriers do all the time. Frontier are still in business and taking bookings.

  6. jamesdenver says:

    I just flew Detroit – Denver this morning. I still see professionalism and great service from the staff and crew- even after reading they’ve just taken a pay cut.

    A FA was riding back to Denver on the seat in front of me and she was coureous, outgoing and almost too nice for 6am.

    So hopefully they’ll pull through – there is a lot of hometown pride in Frontier and I think the city and the employess are all pulling for them to suceed.

    james…

  7. nycaviation says:

    Maybe some info about Frontier’s planned route cancellations would be more useful with such a titillating headline so as not to terrify every Frontier ticket holder into thinking they might be stranded.

    For the record, Denver-Missoula was a new route that was planned but they decided to not to go ahead with it. Service to Sioux City, IA was discontinued last week. Service to Jacksonville, Little Rock, Memphis and Tulsa will end later this month.

  8. Sachlichkeit says:

    A little bit of research revealed this about Frontiers Chapter 11 filing:

    “The low-fare carrier said it was forced into bankruptcy after its principal credit card processor said it would begin withholding a greater share of proceeds from ticket sales.

    The Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York prevents the credit card processor from increasing its “holdback,” Frontier CEO Sean Menke said.

    “Unfortunately, our principal credit card processor very recently and unexpectedly informed us that, beginning on April 11, it intended to start withholding significant proceeds received from the sale of Frontier tickets,” he said.”—from aviation.com

    Once again, credit card companies save the day…

  9. endersshadow says:

    Charlie the Cougar tried to kill me. I’ve flown once on Frontier, and my plane caught fire in the cockpit at 33,000 feet. Electrical short. The pilots extinguished it and landed in Oklahoma City (a bustling metropolis of air activity). I barely got to my destination in time (was traveling for business…). They gave us our money back on the flights with no questions asked. So, this doesn’t surprise me. Good customer service…but Charlie scares me.

  10. Mykro says:

    I work for Republic Airways, we own some of the planes frontier uses.. we have a code share agreement with them.
    Since they’ve filed for bankruptcy, we’re suing them for $260,000,000. Its out there in the media.. but not many people know how hard its hitting them. Also, an internal letter hit the net from Frontier’s CEO talking about major pay cuts and begging from vendors to cut prices so they can hopefully make it through this…

    No chance in helll…

  11. pauljunk says:

    I like Frontier. I don’t know what he is complaining about. He got rebooked onto United no problem. They can’t just automatically rebook everyone to other airlines because of capacity issues and altering travel itineraries might not work for a lot of people.

  12. lunzen says:

    considering the alternatives in the airline industry Frontier comes out pretty fine as an airline. Rule 240 is always a great thing to pull out, but as with many airlines, you have to “ask for it”.

    First Data Corp is the credit card processor that is increasing it’s holdback. It’s probably happening to a lot of the “low cost” carriers with oil rising as it is.

    I hope they make it, I have too many miles with them to lose!

  13. PrudenceCrispin says:

    Booked on Frontier 07/24/08 SNA to Denver, so I am pulling for them to get through these tough times. Also, I have always liked Frontier, and their focus on customer service.
    Cliff