Frontier, we need to talk

14 Mar 2012

Hi,

My name is Ryan Bigg and I booked flights to Salt Lake City with a layover in Denver on the 14th of March. I'd never booked you before. How did I find out about you? Well, there's a handy site called Hipmunk which is an aggregator for flights, hotels and whatnot. You were ranked as the cheapest, and I figured what harm could there be in booking? The flight was a perfect time, arriving at 4:25pm in SLC. Nobody else had flights arriving at such a perfect time as you.

First, a little bit of background on why I was going there in the first place. I'm a programmer. There's a conference there called Mountain West Ruby Conference which I booked tickets to go to right before booking flights with you. By arriving early in SLC, I hoped to catch up with some other programmer friends of mine and have a pre-conference dinner.

I arrived at San Francisco airport at 9:40am and checked in for the 10:45am flight. I was told there would be a delay of one hour and that I would miss my Denver connection. I would then have to make a later one at 9:20pm to go to SLC, arriving somewhere in the vicinity of 11:25pm. Too late to catch up with my friends.

At 11:45am, the screens still flashed "Delayed". I didn't want to approach the counter and ask about times because the hostesses were already seemingly pushed to their limits. I truly, truly pity them in situations like this where they have to deal with indignant customers. A very long time ago, I used to work in a similar role and know how bad people can get.

At around 1:30pm, I decided to go have lunch with the screens still flashing delayed. The line for the restaurant nearby was too busy, so I went over to the store next door and bought some Pringles and a bottle of water. I then moved to one of the charging stations next to Gate 41, which is right across from Gate 43. There, I waited for the flight. Still flashing delayed.

So I decided I would do some work to pass the time while waiting for your flight. I completely missed the announcement due to one reason or another, and looked up to see the flight board had changed. Not once was I notified of a departure time for the plane, either by PA or screens.

I approached the desk and was told that I had missed my flight. The really helpful air hostess with the patience of a monastery (who wasn't wearing a name badge, so I couldn't tell you her name) rebooked me on the next available flight, one that was supposed to be leaving at 2:45pm but was delayed until "Around 5". This would mean that I would be cutting it fairly fine in my layover for Denver, but could still probably make it. (I later checked, the flight actually departed at 5:56pm, meaning I would have missed my connection and had to stay the night in Denver, and I would've missed the first day of the conference tomorrow)

As 5pm approached, I checked the flight status on Google. Originally, it told me 5:15pm. Then it told me 5:35pm, with an arrival time within 19 minutes of my layover. Yeah, nah. Wasn't going to make that.

Not once did I receive an email telling me that the flight was delayed. No notification over the PA at all. Not a single, iota, of anything.

I contacted one of my programming buddies and he advised me that there was a SouthWest direct-to-Salt-Lake-City flight leaving Oakland Airport at 8:40pm that was being sold for $267. I bought it. I approached the desk again and asked how I would go about getting a refund, and aI was told (again, super politely!) that I would need to call Frontier. That's very hard for me to do here, because I don't have a mobile phone that works in this great country.

I caught a cab ($125, including tip) to Oakland airport. Checked in at SouthWest who informed me that their planes had no such delay and would depart on time. Yay!

So here I sit, at Gate 31 in Oakland airport, writing this to you in the ultra-vain hope that you'll improve your systems. When your flights have delays, PLEASE email your customers. I was constantly on the WiFi in SFO checking for notifications. Notify them over the PA that a flight may be arriving at a specific time and to not go anywhere.

One final thing: I don't know where my large suitcase is right now. The suitcase that has all my good clothes, some souveniers and some other things. It could be in Denver, it could be in Salt Lake City. I don't know. I can't call anybody to ask. I will need to go to Baggage Claim in SLC and hope that they have it there. If they don't have it, then I'm out around $900 of equipment.

Your @FrontierCare account contacted me earlier and offered me a $50 voucher on future Frontier flights, but I don't think that I'll be using it. I'll be looking to get a refund (or at least, a partial one) for the flights that I've missed today. $50 is a paltry figure compared to how much I could have potentially lost today.

Please, please, please improve your customer service experience. It is not rocket science.

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