Frontier schedule irregularity and poor communication caused us to miss our flight--need compensatio

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Mar 28, 2017
Two other passengers and I were stranded due to Frontier Airline’s miscommunication and lack of communication.

Frontier flight 226 from Denver to Columbus on 3/25/17 was indefinitely delayed due to maintenance issues. After standing around at the gate ready to board for quite a long time, one of the agents announced that they "had just as much information as the customer when boarding would actually begin" since there was a maintenance issue.

I looked at the Departure board to see what it said, but there was no information on the departure board—flight 226 had disappeared from it, never to return. I asked for further information, and the gate agent said that it would take 20 minutes for them to go to the garage and 20 to get back, so we (my colleague Abe Reshad--copied on this message--and I) should just make ourselves comfortable. The gate agent did not advise my colleague and me to stay at the gate; in fact, it was to the contrary. We decided to go to a nearby restaurant in the same concourse.

Sitting at the closest point to the open entrance so we could hear announcements, and with our phones out the whole time to keep our eye on alerts, here's what we saw:
  • Nothing from the Frontier app
  • No update notifications
  • No audible announcements about the flight in general
  • An email sent at 4:32 saying "The delay on your Frontier Flight 226 from Denver to Columbus has been revised. The new estimated departure time is 04:30PM."
The kicker? It had not been 40 minutes yet, and when we got the email about the revised departure time, we received it at 4:32PM, and the departure was 2 minutes earlier (I have a screenshot).

We raced back to the gate only to be met by 2 agents who flippantly told us there was nothing they could do to help us--they had just closed the doors. And the airplane was still at the gate. We asked if they could radio someone aboard, and they just didn't seem to care, then said they did not know what to do. I told another nearby agent, and she looked like she went to check on something to see what she could do, but she disappeared. Another agent told us to run over to customer service. We did. The airplane was still in sight, stopped on the tarmac, right there out the window... As the plane taxi-ed away without us, we sat waiting for a manager ("a suit") at the customer service desk, where we stood for about a half hour.

When the manager did arrive, my colleague politely explained the situation to her, looking for some resolution in the form of finding another flight within 24 hours to either CMH, CVG, or Cleveland. The manager (who seemed irritated with us) said that the best Frontier could do was waive our rebooking fee and get us on a flight on Wednesday (Sunday evening was stand-by only). After my colleague became visibly frustrated (because he has a baby at home and a wife who also needs to get back to work, and because we should not have to pay hundreds of dollars for Frontier's error), she said Frontier *might* be able to refund us for the flight we missed. There was nothing more she could do.

We then set to work to find another flight. Once we purchased our tickets through Delta, my colleague then spent nearly an hour talking with Frontier customer service agents and a supervisor in an attempt to resolve this issue--to get a refund so that we could afford the flight that each of us unexpectedly had to purchase out-of-pocket since waiting until Wednesday was not an option.

My colleague and I want to be recompensed for the money we had to spend on flight, hotel, and food--unplanned, unaffordable expenses for people on a teacher's salary with two small children (good thing we had credit cards, though). I request $559.56, and my colleague is requesting $566.35.

Upon further research, it seems that these demands fall under Frontier's own guidelines. On a guide to passenger rights in Frontier airlines from, passengers are provided the following for schedule irregularities. What we experienced was definitely a scheduling irregularity. Our flight was delayed indefinitely due to maintenance and we went to a restaurant expecting to check back in 40 minutes. In less than 30 minutes, the plane was somehow fixed and left the gate without a single announcement on the airport monitors or the Frontier app.

If you have any ideas on how we might be recompensed, I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Can you point to the spot in the pages you cited? You need to look at Frontiers Contract of Carriage, not what you are pointing to from Airfare Watchdog. This isn't a schedule irregularity, it is a schedule delay. You walked away from the boarding area - you were at the airport. You were not there when they announced the flight was boarding. I don't think there is anything that would cover you for something like this, it was your responsibility to keep an eye on the boards.And if in that short period of time the flight was closed, it sounded like they began boarding right after you walked away or very soon there after. And make yourself comfortable means at the gate, not somewhere else in the airport.

I am also betting that they also paged you in the airport and perhaps you just didn't hear it. If you were there before, they would have paged you at least twice. Did they state at the desk that they made announcements?

We have customer contacts on top of our pages. Start with Frontiers Customer Service, and state what happened. Give them a week to reply. If they don't or they say no - then write to the first executive listed. Give him/her a week to reply - repeat weekly until you get all the way up the top.

The reason you could not get on the flight even though you saw it is that they have to close out the manifest once everyone has been boarded and once thats done, they cannot allow anyone else on the flight. At that point, if there were any standby passengers, they were likely given your seats as well.

All they owe you is the unused value of the one way ticket unless they marked you as a no show. Their obligation was to get you on the next available flight and because they didn't have anything available until a few days later, they owe you the unused airfare. This is one of the drawbacks of these airlines that don't have reciprocal agreements with other airlines of don't have frequent flights.
Sep 19, 2015
Airport concourses can be noisy and not all announcements can be heard far from the gate. Unfortunately you were far enough away that you could not see the gate -- and Denver is designed with center cores of retail and restaurants away from the gates.

Mechanical delays are unpredictable. Sometimes the repair takes longer than first thought and other times it is shorter.

As Neil has said once the flight doors have shut it is unlikely that they will be reopened.

I have always heard gate agents tell people not to wander away from the gate in such a situation. I am sorry that I cannot be more optimistic but I agree with Neil. One cannot rely on the email alerts as they can be delayed and the best thing to do is be close enough to see the gate if ever confronted with this situation again.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
I am so sorry for this expensive lesson. On a mechanical delay, as you were told, nobody knows how long it might be until takeoff. When the agent told you to make yourselves comfortable, he meant comfortable at the gate. Once the plane is airworthy, everybody hustles to get the thing boarded and off the ground. Your seats were probably given away to standby passengers, so there was no point in re-opening the door for you. Again, I'm sorry this happened to you.
Nov 14, 2016
I'm sorry this happened to you but I agree with my colleagues and feel this is going to be an expensive lesson. Neil's advice on what you're owed is spot on.

In a huge airport like Denver there's no way to hear announcements for every gate in the entire terminal. And "make yourself comfortable" is not the same thing as "feel free to get up and leave". The gate agents often have no clue what's going on with maintenance. They're stuck between trying to provide some information for passengers and trying not to provide inaccurate information. It's always a guess when it comes to maintenance and what looked like a major problem one minute can easily be fixed the next. And when it is fixed those assets - the planes, the gates - cost money every second. They're going to get those moving again as fast as possible. They don't wait for anyone.

Moreover, using a budget carrier like Frontier means that they have fewer flights and no interline agreements. When something goes wrong you're essentially on your own.

A number of years ago my US Air flight in Charlotte had no power while sitting at the gate. We were told specifically that it would probably take at least an hour to fix it. So people wandered away. I ran down to Burger King (2 gates away) and got a cheeseburger. I walked immediately and the whole trip took no more than 5 minutes. I was surprised to find that they were already boarding group 2 (that's after platinum and group 1 back then). I jumped on but I know a number of people who missed that flight because it was only about half full. The old adage of not wandering away during a supposed delay was true that day and it's something I've followed ever since.