It took just one day but Frontier Airlines is dropping its ‘Covid Recovery’ surcharge. It had explained the extra fee tacked on to tickets as covering the cost of cleaning (as though their planes aren’t expected to be clean otherwise) and personal protective equipment for employees (as though airline safety wasn’t the airline’s responsibility).
John Ryan who commented on this blog yesterday is the one who first noticed the fee. He shared it, and coverage took off quickly – first across blogs and then in mainstream media. Well John Ryan gets results because Frontier has already backed off the fee and it’s already gone from the airline’s website.
Don’t expect ticket prices to drop a buck and a half. This was a marketing fail more than a pricing fail. Surely Frontier has someone inside the company they should be listening to who looks at an idea and is allowed to tell the bosses that it’s stupid?
Frontier Airlines is charging customers an add-on surcharge for ‘Covid recovery’. They say they are charging you money on top of your fare to cover cleaning. And they say they charge the fee because they’re buying personal protective equipment for employees, because that’s your reponsibility and not theirs as the employer.
Covid Recovery Charge: The Covid Recovery Charge offsets added costs to Frontier due to implementing Covid-19 related measures, such as increased sanitation and cleaning onboard the aircraft and in the airport, shields at the ticket counters and gate areas, and personal protective equipment for employees.
In charging extra for on board cleaning, they’re telling us that clean planes aren’t part of their basic product. And didn’t we all already pay the coronavirus surcharge when taxpayers had their pockets picked for $79 billion in subsidies for U.S. airlines over the past 15 months?
This is a surcharge, not a fee. A fee, by law, has to be optional so there’s a way to avoid it. That’s why Frontier and some others sell tickets for less at the airport, so they can legally impose an ‘online booking fee’. Surcharges are quoted as part of full price, so they’re not likely actually charging more money for tickets.
Early in the pandemic Frontier charged a social distancing fee, selling customers a blocked middle seat next to them at a discount. This was actually a good deal, and they got blasted for it, even though United Airlines for instance never offered blocked middle seats (unless you knew to buy an extra ticket yourself at full price). Normally when Frontier is sticking it to the customer they say they’re really doing it for the environment.
At the end of the day the Covid charge is included in the price you’re quoted for a ticket, which is different than when you’re comparison shopping hotels and a property has a surcharge. So from a consumer standpoint surcharges only really matter when they’re being tacked onto award tickets, or used to skirt discount offers (since those usually apply to fares only and not add-ons). However the notion of a Covid surcharge anathema, and when a service isn’t optional then that’s just something that needs to be included in the price.
(HT: Miles To Memories)