Last weekend, I had the worst flight experience of my young life. And the next few days dealing with the aftermath wasn’t great either. Here’s what happened:
I got to Denver International at 5:00 pm for my 6:45 flight to Minneapolis. While in the TSA line, I was freaking out, scared that I would be cutting it close because I didn’t get all the way through until about 6:00. Boarding was supposed to start at 6:10. Right around this time was when I got my first email that my flight would be delayed. The new flight time was 7:25. Now that I had another hour, I decided to get a drink at one of the airport bars. While sitting there, I got another email, now pushing my flight to 8:20.
Well, that warranted another drink and then I made my way over to the gate, only to get an email that my flight time was now 9:00. At this point, my flight was delayed by almost 3 hours. I didn’t quite mind because there were places to roam around the airport and I ended up stopping by Ben & Jerry’s for a scoop. Shortly after, I was alerted that my flight was now scheduled for 10:34. Hearing this, I decided to make my way over to a different bar to try one of their microbrews. I mean, what else do you do when your flight is delayed 4 hours?
I met some really nice people and actually had a pretty fun time during the delay. There was one very nice gentleman that I was getting to know and while talking to him, got yet another email pushing my flight now to 12:00. The only thing I could think to do is stop at the bookstore and pick something up to start reading. The guy I was chatting with, though, said he just finished his book and gave it to me! It’s acts of kindness like this that can make these crappy circumstances sort of worth it.It’s life… doesn’t always go as planned, but sometimes you meet really cool people and walk away with some good stories. Well, we parted ways and wished each other well. I headed to my gate and started reading as we waited to board.
12:10 rolls around and it’s officially a new day. We hadn’t received any new news and people were getting antsy. One by one, chatter started that we received another email. Flight time is now 12:45, but by this time it was already approaching 12:30 with no signs of boarding the plane. I had flown Frontier a few times before and every flight I’ve taken with them has had a delay. It was always somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, but that I can handle. 6 hours, however, is an extreme test of patience.
12:45 passes and people start getting angry. We aren’t getting information from anyone. The place feels deserted and no Frontier employees are to be found. All we can do is sit there and wait, wondering if we are ever going to leave. At about 1:10, one courageous Frontier employee gets on the intercom to inform us that our flight has been canceled. The reason they provided? The sky wasn’t clear enough to take off. What, you can’t take off in the dark!? You can’t take off when there are clouds in the sky!? There was no storm overhead and other airlines had people boarding and taking off just an hour before. People started going crazy, yelling and throwing fits. Now what? They tell us to start forming lines to customer service to be re-booked on another flight. This line is soooo long. It’s 1:30 and we’ve moved two inches. By my estimate, it would take more than two hours to get up to the counter. I had never been in this situation, I had no idea what to do. I called my parents to vent on the situation and ask for advice. They said to wait in the line and try to get on an early morning flight. It was really important to me that I get on a flight because the reason I was travelling back to Minnesota was for a wedding. If I didn’t get on a morning flight, I wouldn’t make it.
Right around 1:45 am, a woman came down the line and informed people that they wouldn’t be able to get anyone out to Minnesota for two days. When asked if Frontier would pay for a seat on a competing airline (which I’ve known airlines to do), she said “No, we don’t do that.” If we book another flight, will Frontier pay the difference? “No.” Well, now what are my options? I could accept the refund right now and just book a different flight and accept the increase in cost. Looking online, no one has seats out for Saturday morning. The only option is to pay $500 with layovers that will get me in MN by 5:30 pm (making me miss the wedding) or to pay $1,100 for a first class Delta flight in the morning. At this point, accepting a refund and canceling my trip seems like the only option. Since the line was so long, the employees said it wouldn’t be worth your time to wait unless you needed to book another flight. They told everyone that it would be much easier to just call the customer service number and stay on hold for a bit. I call my parents back to tell them I won’t be making it out at all. My mom still encourages me to wait in the line, make a big stink, and see how much they’ll compensate me beyond a simple refund. I’m usually a patient person, but it’s 2:00 and now there’s this beeping in the hallways of the airport. I can’t take it anymore, so I decide to call it quits and contact customer service after a good night’s sleep.
I got home at about 3 am and get a good 5 hours of sleep. As soon as I wake up, I make sure everyone knows I won’t be at the wedding. This includes explaining the situation and apologizing to friends that were expecting me and the bride and her family. Doing this made it hurt all over again because I wasn’t the only one affected by it. It didn’t really help getting messages like, “See if you can get on another flight!” or “You should make them pay for you to use another airline!” I knew that Frontier wasn’t going to budge on that and with 100 other people trying now to frantically get to Minneapolis, I knew my chances of any flight were pretty slim. Still, I tried. I called customer service and stayed on hold for more than an hour before hanging up to go have a life and enjoy some of my weekend. I tried customer service many times, staying on hold the entire time. It was so frustrating because I kept getting text messages from my parents that said “Did you call yet?”, “So, what did you get out of them?” and a few hours later, “I want to know how well they take care of you.” The only thing I could reply was “I haven’t reached ANYONE yet!”
I finally got hold of customer service on Sunday evening, a whole 2 days after the debacle. I explained to the man on the phone my situation and he was obviously confused because he tried to re-book my travel. This is when I started getting short with him. I was getting heated explaining that, no, I didn’t want to book a flight to Minneapolis because I already canceled the entire trip. He said he’d process a full refund and that was it. I forcibly told him how disappointed I was and that the canceled flight caused me to miss a wedding and the entire last few days were extremely upsetting. I requested additional compensation on Frontier’s behalf. He didn’t apologize, but just said, “We can’t do that, it’s against policy. The flight was canceled due to weather, so I can only issue a refund.” I told him I thought that was bullshit because there were definitely other planes taking off while I was at the airport and I was told by many friends in Minneapolis that the weather was just fine. He maintained that the official reason was cited as weather and kept repeating “It’s against policy, it’s against policy” every time I tried to reject his reasons and ask for compensation. The conversation was going nowhere. He finally said my refund will be processed and there is nothing else he can do. He thanked me for calling Frontier and told me to have a nice day.
I almost contemplated calling back to speak with someone else, but I was just so done with the entire thing. It was bringing me down and I just wanted to move on from it. I was so excited to go home to attend the wedding and visit my family, but that was already over with. It was only hurting my mood more by dwelling on what happened. So, writing this post is the last I will think about it. I got a full refund and am never flying Frontier again. I’m not one to hold grudges, but I never want to experience that again. Yes, they may have the cheapest flights, but that can only get you so far if you don’t have decent customer service… and I’ve never been treated so poorly. Heed my warning, Frontier is a budget airline in the purest sense, so risk it if you want, but I’m done.