Customer Anger Lingers Over Frontier's DIA Disaster Even After Airline Apologizes

At this writing, the chaos over delayed and canceled Frontier Airlines flights at Denver International Airport has finally calmed down, after yet another day filled with long lines and misdirected baggage. But passenger anger continues to linger over the way the carrier reacted to a snowstorm that hit Denver this past Friday and Saturday, with potential long-term damage for a company that's gone from being a paragon of customer service to among the most frequent targets of complaints in the airline industry.

Wrote Todd Unger on Twitter: "Amazing to think at one time in places like Denver, Portland...Frontier was the 'cool' airline. Riddled w/too many issues to list now."

Amid the confusion, even the Air Line Pilots Association piled on, releasing a statement from Captain Brian Ketchum, chairman of the Frontier Airlines Master Executive Council.

"While weather conditions made operations for all airlines at Denver International Airport more challenging last weekend, this most recent meltdown by Frontier Airlines is due to the same executive mismanagement and misplaced focus on cost-cutting that has placed Frontier near the very bottom of the industry in operational performance and customer satisfaction," Ketchum wrote. "Leaving passengers and even their own cockpit and cabin crews stranded for hours without information is outrageous — even more so when this quarter was one of the airline’s most profitable ever financially."

Ketchum added, "Frontier’s private investors, led by William Franke and Indigo Partners, must decide whether they want to run a reliable airline or loot it. If it’s the former, they must invest in the infrastructure and frontline employees who are trying to succeed without corporate support."

Others on Twitter offered their own theories about why things at Frontier have gotten so bad, including RJ Gadz, who tweeted, "@FlyFrontier remember when Frontier was the cool, customer friendly airline in Denver? Cheap contract labor fixed that! All for profit!" And Scott J. Calvert called for government intervention, sending a message directly to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper that reads, "@hickforco #frontierairlines — Gov, when u gonna step in and sort out Denver's biggest embarrassment Frontier Air? It's time to have spine."

Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner was put in the position of trying to explain what went wrong. He repeatedly apologized to media outlets such as CBS4 and 7News even as he admitted that only 65 percent of scheduled flights were expected to take off yesterday — and just 60 percent of lost baggage would likely be headed to its proper destination by day's end.

Faulkner's words were countered by an online onslaught of criticism from sources such as the Black Donnellys, an Irish band led by Dave Rooney and Dave Browne. They tweeted, "Frontier airlines are unbelievably shit!!! Stuck in Denver 8 hrs and no info!!! NEVER BOOK THIS AIRLINE!!! SHIIIIITTTTTT!!!!!"

Here's a sampling of other Twitter commentary about Frontier in Denver from yesterday:


John Booth: "@DillonMThomas We are currently driving to Denver from New Orleans. Frontier only offered two options, Thursday afternoon flight or refund."

Kristopher Bargen: "@FlyFrontier CVG to PHX was great but then weather in Denver so all of Frontier fell apart. Now I'm driving home 2000 miles in a rental car."

Jenny Gettelman: "@FlyFrontier your airline is a joke. Leaving my family members stranded in Denver — never again will we choose Frontier."

Nicholas Ring: "Shocker @FlyFrontier sucks ass again. Worst airline ever."

And then there was this:

The good news for Frontier is that the present crisis is winding down. The bad news? Tomorrow's the first day of winter.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts