Frontier Airlines still sorting through mess
Some stranded people, bags en route to destinations
Weekend weather cancellations continued to plague Frontier Airlines on Monday, as crews worked around the clock sorting through the mess left by arctic temperatures and heavier-than-forecast snow in Denver that led the carrier to cancel 275 flights nationwide.
The Denver-based carrier completed about 65 percent of its scheduled flights Monday, and the number will climb on Tuesday, as the airline gets crews and aircraft where they need to be, spokesman Jim Faulkner said.
“We’re still working to get crews back into position who have been affected by the Denver weather,” he said in an email Monday evening.
Bags that piled up as flights arrived were being sent on to their final destinations, and Frontier brought in extra staff to help sort and deliver bags to Colorado customers, he said.
Through Monday, customer service agents had received about 1,800 e-mails, Faulkner said. On Monday alone, calls to the airline’s reservations lines were expected to reach 16,000.
Customers were frustrated Monday morning by long lines at Denver International Airport ticket counters that were taking longer than normal to resolve.
Judy Michel and her husband arrived at 6:30 a.m. Monday for an 8:30 a.m. Frontier flight to New Orleans, only to be told it had been canceled, she said.
“The line didn’t move, and people were arriving, and the line got longer and longer,” Michel said. When she finally reached the counter, the agent offered to book them on a Thursday flight or refund the ticket.
The couple took the refund and went to Southwest Airlines, where the last-minute fare for the flight was $1,000, twice what they paid for the Frontier flight.
All airlines at DIA experienced trouble over the weekend because of the snow, though most operations were back to normal by 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Faulkner said Frontier was more heavily affected because Denver, where about 60 flights originate daily, is its largest crew base. Many pilots and cabin crew members were unable to reach the airport, spokesman Gil Rudawsky said.
In some instances, a plane was available but the airline had no crew available to fly it. In one case, a Denver-based crew was scheduled to fly from Las Vegas to Cleveland, but the crew couldn’t get to Las Vegas, so the flight was canceled.
The Air Line Pilots Association blamed management for the trouble at DIA.
“This most recent meltdown by Frontier Airlines is due to the same executive mismanagement and misplaced focus on cost-cutting that has placed Frontier near the very bottom of the industry in operational performance and customer satisfaction,” said Capt. Brian Ketchum, chairman of the ALPA’s Frontier Airlines Master Executive Council.
Frontier’s unionized pilots and flight attendants are currently in contract negotiations.
Frontier called Ketchum’s statement opportunistic.
“While this winter storm was worse than forecasted, this rhetoric is commonplace in airlines going through contract negotiations with their pilot group,” the airline said.