What I learned from Frontier airlines is that everything my mother taught me about manners, as a child growing up, was spot on. Let’s start with the golden rule: Treat others as you would expect them to treat you.
Here is what I learned today: Frontier is a service business- I was blown away that they would violate the golden rule over and over in my experience with them today. Trust me; I will share in detail what occurred. All I could think as I traveled was, “Has service in the airline sector gotten so horrible that they simply don’t give a crap?” Jokes used to be made about used car salesmen. In my opinion, they are now the heroes; they help people get into cars with no credit and little money. Airlines, they’ve become worse than any used car salesman I’ve ever met and to me that’s tragic.
From Fun to Run!
So here’s what happened. We woke up this morning excited; our family was heading out to Breckenridge for our annual family ski trip. Keep in mind that I’ve traveled for over twenty years as a professional speaker and my husband is an airline Captain for AirTran, soon to be Southwest. My kids have traveled to Paris several times as well as throughout the great USA. We are traveled people so we know the highs and lows of airline travel. Yet today broke my spirit. It took everything in me not to cry in front of my kids. What’s worse is that I wasn’t mad, I was disappointed. So much that it tore at my heart. Can’t we do better than this?
- Don’t You Have an Extra Couple Hundred Dollars? Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:50 am per our itinerary that we checked ten times. I attempted to check in online the night prior and the first upset came when I saw that I wasn’t just going to pay $25-$30 per checked in bag but also $25-$30 per CARRY ON Bag (unless a briefcase type). I’m thinking, okay, I’ve got Paris and Noah’s two carryon bags with their beloved stuffed animals, which travel all over the world with us. Hmmm…don’t think I can check them so that’s $100 and then my bag is another $30. So we are looking at $130 EACH way simply for carry ons (unless I check the animals and risk losing their most treasured possessions to include baby blankies). I also had two large bags with all our ski clothes so that is another $50-$60 and ONLY if I pay for everything the night before. If I dare wait because I’m totally perplexed on the carryon bag charge, then I will be charged up to $50 PER BAG FOR BOTH CARRY ON AND CHECKED. Hmmm. Now I’m looking at a possible $250 for bags EACH WAY for a total of $500 for my wonderful luggage because the fact is, I will need to change my clothes at some point. Really? Just put the real price of the ticket instead of TRICKING us into a ticket and then killing us with extras. All I could think of were the people who would be stuck at the airport, not knowing about all these fees, and trying to figure out how to pay for it. I’m fortunate enough that while I can afford it, its plain wrong and deceiving.
- Read the fine print: Apparently if you buy your ticket on the Frontier website or some other odd place you avoid all these fees (does anyone buy tickets direct from airline websites?).
- Sorry! Oh, forgot to mention that after all this upset, trying to figure out fees, and putting in my credit card twice, I was told they could not check me in online and that I had to go to the airport desk.
- Change of Plans! Didn’t You Get the Memo? As we leisurely headed to the airport with time to spare, and a grand plan to get something to eat, we get to the gate and are told we are going to MISS OUR FLIGHT! What? Oh, they forgot to tell us that the flight was moved up from 9:50 to 9:15, didn’t I get the telepathic memo? No worries, I can do this! I’ve got global entry and we can zip right to the front of the security line, or so we think. Wrong! It’s airline travel, right?
- Bummer! We pay our $130+ dollars (no time to look) for checked and carryon bags, run to security and am told that I can’t use the global entry, not on the boarding pass even though, I’m holding the prized card in my hand. Remain calm…
- Ha! Just Kidding! We get through security, run to the gate, and as we get to the door are told we HAVE TO CHECK OUR BAGS! What? Didn’t I just pay $100 (I confirmed that there was indeed space and assured there would be room)? Sorry! My kids start to cry, although silently, and I do too but just inside because I’m mom right, need to strong in this moment (and I’ll use my pen later to get it out as I’m doing now!). The kids grab their favorite animal and I promise nothing will happen to their dear friends in the belly of the plane, they are safe (not so sure the way this is going, there could be a gremlin down there). By the way, I had the gate agent come back in and give me her name as I asked for a refund on the bags but imagine that won’t happen without some hard follow up work with long wait times. Trust me; I’m following up on that supposed “credit.”
- Hungry? Got Credit? As we sit down, I realize I have two kids and I included who have not eaten; we have no water and a four hour flight. I look and “Yeah!” they have items but for a price. Isn’t it basic courteously to offer your guest a drink? Not on Frontier! You can have a drink but for a price! Again, just rude. No problem- I whip out my Am X platinum that I’m burning up today anyway and pay $14.99, to be exact, for food and drinks.
- Yeah, we are on the flight, have food and drink, and guess what, there are even televisions, which as a parent is a Godsend on a plane. Could it be free, like on Jet Blue? Of course not, it’s yours for $5.99 EACH.
Did I really need to get my bags on the plane, have something to drink, food to eat, and entertainment for this trip to Colorado? No, it’s not a human need, it’s a want. Yet in a service industry, I expect more. I expect an honest business transaction. Give me the real price for my ticket when I buy it, don’t trick me into buying “the lowest fare” and then kill me with extreme fees that would literally break the bank for many families as they head off on a much needed vacation. Its plain wrong.
I do fly AirTran and Southwest often and am grateful my husband flies for them and not Frontier. AirTran’s business class rocks and Southwest always makes me laugh. There is still hope yet but may this be a warning to them NOT to follow in the footsteps of airlines like Frontier. People like me will stand up, shout from the rooftops and make sure that people are aware of the misleading purchase of tickets. So let this be your warning. If you buy Frontier, read the fine print and make sure you buy the ticket on their website or be prepared to spend your vacation money on airline fees.
So thanks mom for teaching me to know when a wrong is being done and to stand up for myself and others. I listened, learned and hope that others will benefit from this information in this blog!
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Written by Traci Bild, Author and Founder of, the Get Your Girl Back
13 replies on “What I Learned From Frontier Airlines- An Angry Mom Speaks Out”
Thanks for sharing this, Traci (and so sorry that Frontier worked so hard to wreck the beginning of your vacation). It continually amazes me how some industries (airlines, I’m looking at you) are able to repeatedly flout basic rules of courtesy, kindness and service. On the positive side, it’s such a great business opportunity for those carriers who focus on building a culture that treats customers like human beings, not cargo to be carted from one destination to another. I will do my best to never fly Frontier (just as I avoided America West after my own nerve-wracking experience with them several years ago).
Agree, it’s actually easier and more fun to be nice and offer great service, right? Thanks for sharing feedback!!!
Carol Anne Peschke
Greedy, incompetent jerks! At those rates, it’s cheaper to mail your belongings home.
Thanks for giving me a great belly laugh!
Hope your vacation improved from there Traci. Thanks for getting the message out. Glad there are still a few choices, like Southwest
Yes Robert, vacation was awesome and trust me, I’ll fly southwest from now on, ha! Travel is for sure not what it used to be! So sad.
Hi, It is indeed sad to experience this. I am all for a full fare carrier, where the food and other amenities are included and the tickets clearly state that up to XX pounds baggage free both cabin and check in.
At many times, I see that the fares of these LCC more than full fare too, now what is this supposed to mean.
I am a frequent flyer in India, and have had the opportunity to occasionally fly low cost, but at least here the rules require allowances in baggage and free water to passengers, which is a big relief I should say. But nevertheless, it irks me so much when I purchase the exorbitantly priced food; at times the saving between a full service and LCC diminishes there itself.
Entertainment: OK, LCC back here in India do not have monitors at the back of the seats, so charging for them does not arise.
Agree. So cool you fly to India. On my bucket list! Like you, so long as people are honest, it’s fair game. It was just one thing after another on this airline that led me to the boiling point, ha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Just so you know… the equivalent nightmare ‘ cheap’ airline in Europe is called Ryanair. Run by a crass irishman who has even posited that he will charge travellers to use the on board toilets !?!
My husband and I traveled with Ryanair 2 Christmases ago and we too are world travelers. Never ever have I experienced such crappy organisation a t airports and no logic to their check in procedures either. If you had NOT checked in on-line then you were supposed to check in at an electronic station THEN go stand in line to ‘drop off’ your bags. But where were the clear signs that told people this at the airport ? nowhere to be seen. So many frustrated passengers who waited to ‘check in’ with their bags were sent BACK to the electronic ( personless) terminal and then made to go to the back of the line afterwards and queue up all over again. Instead of the usual 23kg allowance, Ryanair had a 19 kg allowance and charged an exorbitant rate for each pound you were ‘overweight.
It cost us a fortune. Extra cash for ‘preferred check-in time’, Extra for seat selection etc. etc.
I will not fly these ‘cut price’ airlines any more, overpriced ‘extras'( that are not extras at all but necessary for travel), undertrained staff and overpriced drinks with horrible snacks. Give me the all inclusive airfare EVERY time then I do not feel I have been robbed blind every trip I make because I know everything has been paid for before I arrive at the airport.
and… get this, the lame brained CEO of Ryanair has put forward an idea to fill his pockets even further at the expense of the passenger’s comfort – he is applying for a section on his planes that are STANDING ROOM ONLY – what are we cattle ? sheep ?! For Gawd sake, are people really THAT desperate to fly that they will put up with this nonsense ? Next Ryanair will be asking their passengers to push the plane onto the tarmac before takeoff. ! Beware RyanAir DO NOT fly this cheap, nasty airline anywhere, even short haul they do not deserve your money or vacation time.
Agreed Jane!!! Thanks for sharing your experience!!!!
Just got on a Frontier flight after getting gouged for $25. To add insult to injury, Frontier made me check my bag as well. NEVER again!!!
Nice way to be treated right? If only airlines understood the term SERVICE!
I just had a terrible experience with Frontier that I would like to add to the conversation (and possible class action lawsuit!). Bumped from a flight at Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport with six other people. No Frontier personnel at the customer counter to assist. No kiosk in operation to assist. Frontier customer service rudely stating, ahead of departure time, “I’m sorry Mr. Albrecht, you have missed your flight.” Unbelievable and unacceptable service. What can we do?