Frontier Airlines CEO Gave A Bizarre CNN Interview, What Was He Thinking?

Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle appeared on CNN, where he was questioned about Frontier being the only airline that won’t reimburse passengers for hotels when they cancel a flight for controllable reasons – like mechanical problems or lack of crew.

Biffle suggests that the DOT dashboard is misleading. Sure they are the only airline listed not covering hotel expenses, but “we do provide hotels in certain situations” – the confusion, he says, is that sometimes their next flight isn’t for 7 days and they won’t cover hotel costs for a week.

When asked whether Frontier will put passengers on another airline when they cancel a flight, Biffle says,

I do think, in the past, airlines did allow reciprocal carrying on each other. And I think that’s something that we should look into as an industry. We would welcome that.

This is bizarre.

  1. Frontier has just eliminated telephone customer service but they’re going to pay for interlining?

  2. Biffle acts as though other airlines don’t have this? That ‘the industry used to do this’ and everyone should get together to bring this back. Huh?

  3. He doesn’t actually realize that Frontier has sent out emails to customers when they cancel flights letting them know they can buy a ticket on another airline up to $300 and get reimbursed (or rent a car, take a bus or train, etc.).

Southwest Airlines doesn’t pay to put you on another airline when they cancel a flight. With limited exceptions, Southwest hasn’t invested in interlining and would basically just be buying the ticket with cash in order to do so. Other airlines have plenty of fine print around doing so. It’s not as though Frontier is completely out in left field here.

It seems as though Biffle felt caught out, and didn’t want to appear customer-unfriendly, and wasn’t willing to aggressively defend their ultra low cost business model. In other words, it sounds like Frontier needs to bring on Ben Baldanza, former Spirit CEO, to get their messaging into shape. Baldanza never shied away from telling customers what they weren’t entitled to – and why offering a stripped-down product had benefits for (certain) customers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Frontier put us up in an all inclusive resort in punta Cana when they had to cancel the flight due to crew hours. They had us on the same plane out the next morning. The annoying thing was there was a half full delta flight going out and they didn’t cancel our flight until it had left.

  2. From friend/family’s experiences, Frontier actually does a pretty good job at proactively offering compensation for delayed and cancelled flights. Spirit would tell you to pound sand for the same events, AA would make you write an entire novel to customer service, etc.

  3. I bought tickets for my Dad to Mexico on Frontier and covid hit so they cancelled. They had a phone number to call and request a voucher that expired in 2020 and the number didn’t work. I was never reimbursed. Terrible service and Terrible airline.

  4. @David Miller

    Sometimes it’s all you have available. After JetBlue gave up Dulles/LGB, the only decent flight from DC to LGB or SNA was Frontier through Denver with a minimal layover (until they killed that schedule).

  5. I booked 4X return SJC/LAS in January 2020, for flights in April 2020 but because President Trump closed the border to the USA from the UK we were unable to get to the USA. In the end those flights were cancelled by Frontier. I requested a refund but was offered only a handful of their Frequent Flyer points with a six month validity. This was absolutely worthless because it was more than a year before UK citizens were permitted entry to the USA. However, thanks to AMEX Platinum travel insurance they reimbursed me the full fare. Before I bought the internal USA flights we’d planned on going to Asia and had booked through Opodo, PVG/HKG/HANoi that was also cay. It was impossible to reach Opodo customer service and I claimed also from AMEX. I eventually received around £1,300 from them. Note that I have no affiliation with AMEX.

  6. I have 100k elite which means I get free bags, seats, fees, and Frontier has cost me money in 2022. They are without a doubt the worst airline in the sky. After the CEO interview I now know why. Hard to get value out of any perks when you can’t get on a flight due to schedule changes and cancellations. Will not miss my status at all. People that bought the all you can fly deal are probably already sorry they did.

  7. So on certain circumstances Frontier does offer to buy OAL tickets under some controllable circumstances but always offers refunds or rebook for long delays and cancellations. The thing most people don’t bother to read is the contract of carriage. Outlines this specifically. Folks you’re buying a $49-69.00 ticket for a seat. Everything thing else is “Al a cart”. It’s not 1st class British Airways.

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