Frontier Airlines CEO Says You’re Lazy, So He Has To Cut Costs

Spirit Airlines lost its relentless focus on costs, but Frontier Airlines still has it. Frontier is the U.S. Franke airline now and it’s headed by Spirit’s former marketing chief, Barry Biffle. Flight attendant training is done at a truck stop in Wyoming because it’s cheap.

United’s CEO Scott Kirby says airlines are overstaffed by 10%. Biffle will actually do something about it planning to “double down” on cost cuts and pushing for increased labor productivity.

And he says we’ve all gotten lazy,

We got lazy in Covid. I mean seriously, people are still allowing people to work from home. All this silliness, right? All that’s out the window.

That seems to be his diagnosis of economic troubles drying up leisure travel, creating challenges for his airline, and necessitating cost cuts. But what’s left to cut? They’ve already eliminated telephone customer service.

Of course intertemporal substitution is petering out. People couldn’t travel for some time and then traveled with abandon once they could. And outsized household balance sheets from Covid stimulus and ill-conceived post-Covid spending packages that spurred inflation are mediating. (Frontier Airlines was heavily subsidized by the federal government during the pandemic, too!) People have less money to spend on Frontier. Airfares that bulged from constrained supply and artificially-inflated demand are falling back to earth.

But it’s all your fault, you lazy you!

(HT: @crucker)

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. Just curious: What is it about airline executives that they feel the best way to attract people to fly on their respective airlines is to insult their potential pax?

  2. It really is a terrible airline now. It used to be the best and I used no other airline flying out of Denver. You can’t push a soft bag into the luggage sizer so it fits? The gate agents get a commission if they tell you to pay for the bag that fits but you had to put the straps into the sizer? It might be cheap (sort of) but is it worth the hassle? The seats really suck. It’s the Greyhound Bus lines of the air.

  3. I’m getting really sick of hospitality leaders complaining about remote work.

    The reality is that hybrid work is great for many people. I benefit from in person time and I also benefit from not having to drive in on the days I’m on zoom calls with Europe all day.

    My lifestyle is not a frickin jobs program for hospitality businesses. If they invested in a market that is no longer as relevant (like business travel or downtown restaurants), well that’s how the free market goes. Stop insulting people and trying to strongarm people into pretending it’s still 1980.

  4. Just wait until people have to resume their student loan repayments…that will be a whole lot of disposable income no longer available for wants (versus needs).

  5. Some jobs are easily done remotely. Others, not so much. Many executives fail to note what happened during Covid-19 and are going to mismanage companies if a recession occurs. The stockholders are not going to be kind if the Covid-19 style of business was cheaper and the executives fail to follow that style.

  6. Bet you $1,000 that 3 days a week he works (and pigs out and no exercise) from home. Do as I say, not as I do.

  7. I can travel more due to remote work…because as long as I have decent internet and cell service, I can work from anywhere.

    Of course, I try to make my travel as cheap as possible so they don’t make much money off of me, but still.

  8. “FA training at a truck stop in Wyoming”

    No way. . . but it’s Frontier.


    Ok, their training is held in Cheyenne WY. No mention of truck stop, but various “how to be a FA” sites paint a similar grim picture.

    – Long days
    – no pay, no per diem
    – dorm living
    – not much else to do
    – 3 company provided meals a day
    – one meal on Saturday
    – no meals on Sunday
    – 3.5 weeks of training

    All that to work a year or two on reserve making $24.51 / hour, minimum 75 hours a month.

    That’s $22,000 a year which is below minimum wage (approx $30K / year)

  9. I flew Frontier once. I had to get from Nashville to Denver during evening hours and it was my only direct option. I will never, ever make that mistake again. How is this airline allowed to exist?

  10. “It’s the Greyhound Bus lines of the air.”

    I used to take Greyhound in my college years and once in high school. I spent many hours on trips. None of the airlines has as much seating space in coach as Greyhound had. The pitch on airlines is definitely less. I wish airlines would use Greyhound as an example for both seat pitch and seat width and sometimes for seat cushioning. Greyhound also had a better luggage policy.

  11. After my experiences flying Frontier, I will never get on one of their planes again. I wouldn’t even take them if they gave me free tickets.

    And this guy’s comments towards further eviscerating an already bare-bones operation only further justifies my decision.

  12. Always amusing to see a morbidly obese literal fat car who is too lazy to exercise and eat healthily start complaining about “lazy people.”

    His airline pays people poorly and there’s zero economic incentive to go beyond the minimum, so they don’t.

    Meanwhile, despite the poor performance of the business he is supposedly leading, Biffle is taking home over $3.5 million a year — despite his plummeting productivity as CEO. $3.5 million can buy a lot of cheeseburgers, pizza and ice cream, apparently.

  13. PS, assuming the $22K/year FA salary reported is accurate, Biffle’s comp of $3.6 million per year could provide an extra 80 aircraft’s worth of flight attendants. That would be significantly more value to shareholders than an overpaid empty suit who blames his employees and customers for the poor results of his bad business decisions.

  14. “Truck stop” is ambitious. They stay at the little America hotel and resort in Cheyenne Wyoming. They host weddings there. Little America also has a campground and truck stop. That’s their business model. May as well say the flight attendants stay at an “rv park and campground”

    There is a very real reason for this move several years ago. They hire young people who have little to lose and some do not govern themselves well. Far too much was happening in Denver and Orlando during training. This was to isolate them away from “party” areas to hopefully avoid drama and allow more focus on training. The legacy carriers have dedicated, and usually remote training facilities. American has a full bar and pub at theirs so the students stay on property.

    Managing flight attendants would be like hearding cats for a living. No offense to cats, they are likely smarter.

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