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Frontier's Latest Sh*t Show: Pilot Protest, Strike Threats Right Before the Holidays

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Photo by Ana Lopez
As we've reported, Frontier, which promotes itself as Denver's hometown airline, has had one public embarrassment after another of late, including bottom-scraping quality ratings in the wake of its disastrous response to a snowstorm this time last year and comments by its main investor in which he compared complaining customers to teenage spoiled brats. A downtown Denver protest yesterday, December 7, by Frontier pilots who eagerly declared themselves to be "100 % Ready to Strike" qualifies as the latest horror story for the carrier, which has had no shortage of such tales in the past.

Frontier pilots actually declared themselves willing to strike over a long-running pay dispute this past September if a new agreement with the airline couldn't be reached. Months later, the situation appears to be no closer to a resolution, though Frontier soft-pedaled the problem in a statement about the demonstration that reads in part, "We look forward to working toward an agreement that is fair, sustainable, and provides security for our collective future."

The timing of the picket session, which involved hundreds of pilots from Frontier and other carriers, wasn't chosen at random. Clearly, the employees are hoping to use the threat of a disruption over the lucrative holiday season as motivation for the powers-that-be to get serious about finalizing a pact.

The effect on passengers who saw yesterday's display will likely be twofold. Those who haven't booked Christmas flights yet are likely to reach out to other airlines — and the ones who've already purchased tickets on Frontier are undoubtedly even more nervous about a repeat of last year than they already were.


Here's our November post about the "brats" comment, supplemented by Denver-centric tales from the website FrontierHorrorStories.com. Accompanying the text are more photos from yesterday's demonstration, published with the kind permission of photographer Ana Lopez.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANA LOPEZ
Photo by Ana Lopez
Frontier Owner Says Passengers Are Like Spoiled Brats Despite Horror Stories
Published November 21, 2017

Bill Franke, the head of the investment firm that owns Denver-based Frontier Airlines, has compared the average passenger to a "teenage spoiled brat" despite the carrier's recent history of terrible customer service rankings, a well-publicized public spat with 9News anchor Kyle Clark and an entire website devoted to Frontier horror stories.

Franke, whose company, Indigo Partners, recently announced its intention to buy 430 new planes for Frontier and other airlines in its portfolio (including Wizz Air, Volaris and Jetsmart), made his comment to CNBC. "The consumer is essentially like your teenage spoiled brat. They had been flying with all the amenities forever and ever and that's what they think they ought to get," he said, adding, "They don't want to pay any more for the ticket, they just want all the amenities."

To put it mildly, these remarks are incredibly tone-deaf — and not all that far from ones that appeared in a satirical article published by The Onion a few months back. Under the headline "Frontier Airlines Tells Customers to Just Fucking Deal With It," fictional CEO Barry Biffle was quoted as saying, "I get that you’re cramped and miserable, but if you just shut the hell up and sit there for a few goddamn hours, you’ll soon be at your destination. Who gives a shit if you have no leg room and the seats are stiff? Soon you’ll be 800 miles from where you are now, and it’ll be like the last two hours of your life never even fucking happened. You’re the ones who wanted to save $150, so you’re welcome, assholes."

The Onion had plenty of Frontier fodder from which to draw inspiration for this salvo. In December 2016, for example, Frontier became a social-media target because of its awful response to a snowstorm — a big reason that the carrier finished last in the subsequent 2017 Airline Quality Rating survey, as it did in 2014. The following July, 9News's Clark publicly castigated the airline after he learned that Frontier staffers had accessed his personal travel records in an apparent effort to learn if he was an Ann Coulter-esque whiner about air travel. And then there's the aforementioned Frontier Airlines Horror Story site, the subject of a 2015 post that rounded up eight terrible tales with Denver connections.

Count down those tales below and decide for yourself if the storytellers are "teenage spoiled brats" or simply customers who deserved better treatment — and less condescension from rich guys like Franke.

Number 8:
We got to the MPLS airport two hours early. There was no security wait. Unfortunately, the Frontier ticket staff wasn't there. I stood in front of an empty counter for 45 minutes. When the staff finally arrived, the security line had 45 minutes wait. I didn't know that my flight was delayed. There were zero announcements. After waiting for 45 minutes waiting to talk to the people at the gate ticket counter, I asked the lady, who identified herself as Candy, she didn't have a name tag, said that if there are less people in line, they would have enough time to ask an announcement. The ticket counter staff really weren't interested in answering questions or being helpful. Candy was so rude that I asked for another agent. I was told that it was Frontier policy to not help customers that another agent started to help. If that is your policy, it needs to be changed. Frontier, you are not doing me favor when I buy a ticket. I will pay the extra 50 bucks to fly on an airline that has a clue about customer service. Call Me, Frontier! Find out why I am canceling an already paid for flight in November and another in Jan. Find out why I will never fly Frontier again with my company. I fly one time every other month. Cancel my Early return number. Cancel my wife's early return number. Keep your eight dollar snack pack. It seems that any time anyone in the Frontier front office farts, it costs me 25 bucks. But when Frontier is performing below par, everyone just throws up their arms in confusion.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANA LOPEZ
Photo by Ana Lopez
Number 7:
Flight delay from 6:55 pm departure to 12:20 am next day was falsely attributed by Frontier agents to "weather delay of incoming flight from Seattle." However, (1) Seattle flying weather was excellent all day. (2) Frontier website showed all Seattle-Denver flights arrived on time that day. (3) Frontier evidently switched the designated equipment (from incoming Seattle-Denver flight 140, arriving approx. 4:30 pm) to a different route, possibly one that did encounter a weather delay — and (4) made our flight wait for equipment from a later Seattle-Denver flight (142, which arrived at 11:30, approximately on time). Does it comply with DOT regulations to say that our flight was delayed by weather???

Number 6:
Flew from SLC to Denver then to Puerto Vallarta. First flew with small children all separated from parents when asked to change seats was told by a very rude stewardess that we had to stay in assigned seats. What person flying wants to sit next to someone else's crying two year old? Then the stewardess had the nerve to talk to other passengers about us, very unprofessional. Pay the extra fly Delta.