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.
On rebooking on other airlines: "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." https://t.co/HGqNsHLL8p pic.twitter.com/WJLIr98s2v
— Ross Feinstein (@RossFeinstein) November 24, 2022
This is bizarre.
- Frontier has just eliminated telephone customer service but they’re going to pay for interlining?
- 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?
- 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.