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Frontier Owner Says Passengers Are Like Spoiled Brats Despite Horror Stories

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.

Irate passengers at a Frontier customer service counter in Denver in December 2016. - @MOBERMILLER
Irate passengers at a Frontier customer service counter in Denver in December 2016.
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.

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.
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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