Monday, December 20, 2010

A Frontier Airlines Debacle

I used to like good old Frontier.   They were the only sane alternative to United here in Denver.

Lately, however, Frontier has been having some real problems as far as my family and I are concerned.

My last two encounters with F9 staff at ATL have been two of the worst encounters with any airline ever. I wish it was merely a 45 minute wait before an uneventful check in.

Encounter 1 was traveling with my family and, after having requested and received seats together (after they re-instated free assigned seats), F9 said we were actually booked on different flights on different days. Turns out the original booking was flawed (my bad), but then why did they later confirm us seating together? Either way, terminal staff was utterly useless in resolving problem and my family was split up before they could be bothered to help. My wife basically had to cause a scene to get them to do anything to resolve it. I had already left by then, but it sounded like a mess.  We received some vouchers for the experience and decided to use them to book a trip for my niece to visit us her in Denver.

Fast forward to last week, when my sister attempts to check in my 13 year old niece flying out to visit us as an unaccompanied minor, and F9 at the terminal has no clue. Two agents spend 1/2 hour playing with their computers and speaking to the help desk before sending her and my sister to the gate with no boarding pass, just a gate pass to get through security!

No booking errors this time, we did everything right, but they had some unspecified computer problem that made it impossible for them to do anything, so they just dumped the problem on the gate staff.    Apparently their reservations systems are about as modern as the aircraft pictured above, and/or their staff has no idea how to use them!

Gate agents did everything they could not to help. They started boarding, ignored my sister, and even had her bag removed from the flight. My sister calls me from the gate beside herself that they won't help her and are about to deny her daughter boarding.

Although less of a scene was made my sister was rightfully pissed at this mess. They ultimately boarded her last, without a boarding pass, sitting a 13 year old girl on the back of the plane in a middle seat between two older men. By design, her bag didn't make it either.   We had to take time from her vacation to return to the airport.   We declined hanging around the house for them to deliver the bag in a 5 hour window.

Imagine a 13 year old girl, on her first flight as an unaccompanied minor, watching her mother fight with the airline staff for an hour just to get a seat.   Then, they board her at the last second without barely a chance to say goodbye.  What an outrage!

The pattern is clear, F9 staff in ATL are useless, incompetent, or worse. When a problem comes up, they just try to make you go away without solving it.   I have traveled a lot, and I write about travel every day, but I have never encountered such customer disservice anywhere else by any airline.

Worse, my sister calls in to customer service to complain, they offer her a $50 voucher and then drop her call.

What an insult!

Frontier Airlines has some major problems.  The worst part is we have no reason to believe the experience will be any better in two days when she returns to Atlanta.   I will keep you posted if and when they decide to actually address these problems.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's Going On With Steele Street

It has been a very busy few months for me, and I apologize to both my regular readers for not keeping up with this blog.   I have been writing extensively on both travel and finance daily over at the AskMrCreditCard blog.    I have also been submitting travel expert columns monthly for  

Finally, I have just started a new blog about another of my passions, bicycling.   The Go Tubeless blog will educate readers on the emerging technology of tubeless bicycle tires, just in case you hate getting flats when you ride.

Nevertheless, I promise to update this blog more often.

Thanks for sticking with me.