While the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, many Frontier Airlines passengers say the airline does not offer customers an extension to expired travel vouchers.
Customer complaints raise the question: how can consumers complete travel plans when so many destinations are banned?
It’s the same question that Aimee Reed asked after canceling a family trip booked on Frontier Airlines due to the pandemic.
Her children, 6-year-old Ben and 4-year-old Ian, hoped to spend Easter egg hunting in Florida with their great-grandparents.
“They absolutely loved being at home, they were very excited to go,” Reed told NBC 5 Responds.
But the coronavirus had other plans and the boys ended up filling their baskets in their home in Carpentersville instead.
“At that time the flight had not been canceled, but nobody could get there,” said Reed.
Mum of two said her refund request was rejected because airlines don’t have to offer refunds when passengers cancel, only when the carrier does.
Frontier instead offered his credit for future travel, but tied it to a 90-day window to re-book. His voucher expired on June 17, as the pandemic continued to worsen.
This is when Reed asked the airline for an extension.
“They told me I could get a credit extension,” said Reed. “But you have to call closer to the expiration date.”
It was in April. Reed said he had the same response in May. And in June.
“I would be on hold for two hours, eventually you will get to someone and the call will drop within 30 seconds. So you should start all over again, ”Reed said.
When he finally got past it, it was too late.
“Your credit has expired, there is nothing we can do for you,” said Reed.
Disgruntled customers of the Facebook group “I Hate Frontier Airlines” say they are in the same boat, describing “system overload” and “error codes”. A discontented customer said: “If Frontier were a part of the body, it would surely be an armpit.”
“Frontier emerges in many reports about the complaints we’ve seen,” said Flyersrights.org president Paul Hudson.
The watchdog team said some carriers are doing well for their passengers who are forced to cancel travel. But others, like Frontier, are making it more difficult.
“They have a policy of wanting to issue coupons, if possible. And then it turns out that many of these coupons are limited in time, or when you try to use them they simply said there is no room, they don’t go well,” Hudson said.
NBC 5 Responds asked Frontier Airlines to investigate Reed’s case and explain his credit extension policy.
In a statement, a Frontier spokesman told NBC 5 Responds:
“We have looked into this and sincerely apologize for the frustrating experience that our customers have had when booking the trip.”
The airline said it had “waived the cancellation fees” by providing “full travel credit for non-refundable tickets booked on April 15 or earlier”. See the airline’s full statement below.
As for extensions, Frontier said he manages them “on a case-by-case basis”.
After our call, Frontier granted Reed a two-day extension for the reservation. His family is now set to visit relatives in Denver in October, possibly on what will be their “final frontier”.
“The fact that I was getting,” there’s nothing I can do “and it attacked me? You can’t joke with people’s livelihoods that way,” Reed said.
Help may be coming for others in this boat, as a bill called “Cash refunds for coronavirus cancellations” makes its way to lawmakers. If passed, customers would get cash refunds, regardless of who canceled the ticket.
Frontier Airlines’ full statement to NBC 5 replies:
We sincerely apologize to our customers for the unprecedented impacts on air travel resulting from the global pandemic and are working with them to satisfy their travel wishes as part of our policies.
We manage credit extensions on a case-by-case basis to best meet our clients’ travel desires within our policies.
Government regulations regarding the granting of refunds for non-refundable rates have not changed and Frontier continues to comply with the DOT refund rules. If an airline cancels a scheduled passenger’s flight, the airline is responsible for providing a timely refund at the customer’s request. If the customer voluntarily canceled his reservation, courtesy of the ongoing pandemic COVID-19, we waived the cancellation fees and provided a full travel credit for non-refundable tickets booked on April 15 or earlier. Note that travel is not required to take place within that 90-day period for which credit is valid. The customer simply has to book the trip by the deadline. The trip can be scheduled until September 2021 and these bookings can be changed free of charge up to 60 or more days before the travel date. Any tariff difference applies.