If Frontier screws up, you're on your own

Old Dec 12, 17, 11:57 am
  #16  
 
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The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

This is an eye opening thread and it sounds like a Chase card or travel insurance is a must when booking one of these low fares. I have flown both Frontier and Spirit a total of 6 round trips and never had a problem. Except once on a Spirit flight from Vegas to Philly there was an equipment change and my $30 exit row seat didn't exist, so I was put in the second or third aisle that had plenty of leg room (not a big seat). I asked for and received a $30 refund because I didn't get the exit row. With luggage and a perfect itinerary, I saved about $200.

Like Mike Tyson said: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 12:01 pm
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Upon further review I think my reply is not correct. It looks like the $5000 limit is not applicable because the scenario described is not a covered reason. And, interestingly, the trip delay protection of $500 which does have a covered reason of "delay caused by a common carrier" and includes overbooking, the covered expenses do not include a new airplane ticket. Only hotel, ground transportation and meals/necessities are covered expenses.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 1:46 pm
  #18  
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
This is the fundamental problem with flying Frontier. Are you willing to take the risk of "being completely on your own" if your flight gets cancelled? Would you put friends and family on a Frontier flight knowing they could get stranded without good options? I'm not a huge fan of government regulation, but my experience today begs for some sort of consumer protection. Frontier, of course, will claim the cancellation was due to "weather."
Often1 brings up the lack of interlining. Frontier's lack of frequency on many airport pairs - and lack of well-developed hub-and-spoke system to offer alternatives - shouldn't be a mystery to anyone with 17 years on FT.

American Airlines briefly used an ad tag maybe a decade ago: A great low fare and a lot more airline.

It's not strictly an LCC problem nor Frontier problem. Delta has served a number of Caribbean destinations just one a day or even just once a week. Delta isn't going to put you on American if they have a mechanical.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 3:05 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by jjbiv View Post
The weird thing is it looks like Frontier ferried the aircraft back to PHL the next morning at 5 AM (FFT9205 on 12/9). It would have been better to delay the flight and operate it the next morning so their customers could travel to their destination.

Did you contact Frontier customer relations? If so, what did they say?
Weird. I see that aircraft movement on FlightAware. Is there a way to tell whether it was just a ferry flight or if they took pax?

While I was on my ill-fated flight, I chatted with the pilot about the likely outcomes (at that point, it was starting to look grim for getting the de-icing fluid or for a break in the weather). We knew the crew would "time out," so the question was whether, after they got some rest, they'd fly the flight the next day. At this point, I didn't know whether I'd be able to find any other seats out of MSY that day, so a "replacement flight" the next day might be the best I could do. She said they might ferry it or they might take stranded pax -- but she wouldn't know until much later. Once I had the certainty of a United flight on Friday, I wasn't going to wait around to see what might happen the next day -- especially since a snowstorm was forecast for Saturday at PHL!

When I called Frontier and they offered me either a refund or a flight 8 days later, I told her those options were unacceptable and asked if she could do more. She said only the agents at the airport had any discretion to do more. Of course, there was a line of at least 200 people at that time (including, I think, pax from other cancelled flights), so there was no way I was going to participate in that chaos when I knew I probably wouldn't get any assistance anyway. Instead, I focused on getting myself out of MSY same day on another carrier (which worked).

I have filed a DOT complaint, if for no other reason than Frontier should at least get a demerit point for stranding me. I believe that complaint automatically gets sent to Frontier's customer service dep't. Is there any value in separately writing to Frontier?

As far as folks noting that "you get what you pay for," there's obviously some truth to that in aviation -- as there is, sometimes, in life. Of course, most airlines only cancel about 1% of their flights. Frontier might be a bit higher than that, it's still going to be a low number. It's these cancelled flights where you really get screwed over. Like a 6 hour flight delay would be very bad, but when there's no flight at all for you, that's when you don't want to be flying Frontier. What's it worth to avoid this 1 or 2% risk? In my case, my fare was $19. The next cheapest fare on AA nonstop in that market that day was about $200. That's quite a premium, isn't it? I don't think it would be worth that differential, which is why this is so difficult to strategize.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 6:14 pm
  #20  
 
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This is why I avoid Frontier

I have heard similar stories on FT, and this is precisely why I no longer fly F9. With DEN being my home airport, it is tempting to take those ridiculously low fares, and once I did actually fly F9 to IAH for $44 round trip. However, I understand that if anything goes amiss with the flight, I will be left flapping in the wind, because F9 does not play nice with other carriers. Though I have not yet done it, I have considered buying cheap tickets on F9, but then also buying "cancellation insurance" in the form of a fully refundable ticket on one of the big three. It's a few extra steps, but saving $200-300 per flight is tempting. On the other hand, if I ever need to use the full price ticket, it could offset the savings from several "cheapo" flights.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 6:59 pm
  #21  
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DOT won't do anything and it won't get a "demerit". It did exactly what you agreed to in the contract (COC).
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Old Dec 12, 17, 8:20 pm
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Originally Posted by 3Cforme View Post
It's not strictly an LCC problem nor Frontier problem. Delta has served a number of Caribbean destinations just one a day or even just once a week. Delta isn't going to put you on American if they have a mechanical.
But Delta could put you on United, and even if they can't, you'd probably spend a few hours or a day there while Delta ferried in a rescue plane from ATL or something. ULCCs often do not have spares.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 10:30 pm
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Since the cancellation rate on most airlines is around 2% and most cancellations are due to extreme weather, I choose to self insure. That is I beleve I have saved enoght on the low cost fares I've taken over the years that if I eventually haveto buy a walk ip fare or a night on an airport hotel I'm still way ahead.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 7:11 am
  #24  
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Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post
Since the cancellation rate on most airlines is around 2% and most cancellations are due to extreme weather, I choose to self insure. That is I beleve I have saved enoght on the low cost fares I've taken over the years that if I eventually haveto buy a walk ip fare or a night on an airport hotel I'm still way ahead.
I do think it's better to fly the majors -- even on their basic economy fares -- than take Frontier or Spirit, and this type of experience is one good reason. But there are going to be discretionary trips that only make sense if you fly Frontier, and there are trips where the price differential is so huge that it makes no sense to fly the majors. As long as you go into it with eyes wide open, and understand that you might not get there or back at the times you've booked (and can deal with that), it can certainly be worth the modest risk.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 7:41 am
  #25  
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Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post
Since the cancellation rate on most airlines is around 2% and most cancellations are due to extreme weather, I choose to self insure. That is I beleve I have saved enoght on the low cost fares I've taken over the years that if I eventually haveto buy a walk ip fare or a night on an airport hotel I'm still way ahead.
That only takes care of the out-of-pocket.

For many, time is money. Getting two nights at a hotel reimbursed is the least of their problems. Losing two days' work may be devastating. Missing a critical meeting may be devastating. On a personal note, missing the chance to see a dying relative is also devastating.

While some policies will pay for a new ticket, many either won't or cap that. When the last seat in full Y costs $1,500 vs. the $80 you paid and your insurance will only pay $500 to cover hotel, food, and purchase of a new ticket, you face either a large cash outlay or some real losses on the work front.

Worse, in IRROPS, carriers take care of their own disrupted pax first.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 8:44 am
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You get what you pay for with ULCCs.

Yes, a ticket on a network airline like United, AA, Southwest or Delta may be a higher price, but their planning and recovery is much, much better. This could of happened to any airline (well, not "forgotten" to order de-ice fluid, most likely F9 gambled that they didn't need any de-ice fluid in New Orleans and got caught) but other airlines have many ways of getting you home.

United, for example, could of gotten you to DEN direct (likely), or though ORD, IAH, IAD or sent you to another carrier.

If friends ask about an ULCC like Frontier, Spirit, etc, my standard response is, "yep, it's a cheap price and a great deal if it works out. But if you flight cancels, the only way home by air is probably a seat several days later." I have heard too many stories of this type of situation happening, and because they have a very high load factor, the only way home is days away.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
That only takes care of the out-of-pocket.

For many, time is money. Getting two nights at a hotel reimbursed is the least of their problems. Losing two days' work may be devastating. Missing a critical meeting may be devastating. On a personal note, missing the chance to see a dying relative is also devastating.

Worse, in IRROPS, carriers take care of their own disrupted pax first.
Insurance will do nothing to compensate you for that. If there are no seats at any price then you are stuck.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 2:44 pm
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
That only takes care of the out-of-pocket.

For many, time is money. Getting two nights at a hotel reimbursed is the least of their problems. Losing two days' work may be devastating. Missing a critical meeting may be devastating. On a personal note, missing the chance to see a dying relative is also devastating.

While some policies will pay for a new ticket, many either won't or cap that. When the last seat in full Y costs $1,500 vs. the $80 you paid and your insurance will only pay $500 to cover hotel, food, and purchase of a new ticket, you face either a large cash outlay or some real losses on the work front.

Worse, in IRROPS, carriers take care of their own disrupted pax first.

All true.

So what do you do?

There's not really a good solution. NEVER fly a ULCC? So pass on that $38 roundtrip to MSY because it's too risky? Or pay 10x to fly a major if that's what the fare differential happens to be?

I kind of think that if your schedule isn't that tight (that you can afford to miss a day of work or a meeting or whatever), and that you have the financial resources and travel skills to get yourself out of a bad irregular ops situation, you probably want to sometimes roll the dice and buy a Frontier ticket. Personally, I'm going to be reluctant to buy such a ticket until spring, when the risk of irregular ops diminishes. If you live in a place subject to snow, you probably have a 5 to 15% chance of irregular ops on a roundtrip (higher if the destination you're flying to is also snowy). That's a bit too high for my taste.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 10:02 pm
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If you're thinking about flying a ULCC, be sure to know what the risks are, and have a plan b in place. If you're comfortable with your choice, then and only then should you go ahead and book the ULCC ticket.

The majority of ULCC flights arrive reasonably on time without incident. The risk of you getting stuck somewhere, although higher than on a "real" airline, is still relatively small.
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Old Dec 22, 17, 1:55 pm
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RSW-CLE delayed 5 hours plus yesterday, brother just returned rental and got to terminal only to be told. Other passengers said they were told at 7:30AM. Poor managing of situation. No one really told what happened, rumors ranged from equipment failure to no equipment available, to it was "Atlanta's fault". They had a terminal full of unhappy passengers.
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