One Minute Late to Check-In, Frontier Airlines Passenger Kept Off Flight

Categories: Spaced City

stuckatairport.jpg
Photo courtesy of Michael Monroe Brown
A rough landing for a budding entrepreneur
Forty-four minutes early was one minute too late for Michael Monroe Brown Tuesday when he tried to fly the low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines back to Indianapolis from a business trip to Houston Tuesday.

The 22-year-old budding entrepreneur and recent Indiana University business major graduate says he arrived at the Frontier ticket counter at George Bush Intercontinental to find no one there. Employees at the nearby American Airways counter warned him that he was probably out of luck.

He got on the airport phone and tried to get someone to come to the counter, without luck.

Frontier has a rule that passengers must be checked in by at least 45 minutes before any flight's departure -- with or without luggage (Brown was without). As far as Brown could figure out, he said, Frontier takes its counter crew and uses them to handle the gate duties as well. So they had already left by the time he made it to the counter.

"The people at American told me it happens every day," a frustrated Brown said. Four other people -- including a woman who arrived at the 40-minute mark -- were also held off the same flight and told there wouldn't be a flight out till the next day, he said.

When he finally contacted Frontier, Brown said he was told it was his fault and Orbitz's fault (he booked his ticket through them) for not following the rules. To get out on Wednesday, he'd have to come up with another $100 for the change in flights, he said.

In between phone calls, Brown Googled customer complaints about Frontier and found he is far from alone in his experience. In fact, according to Mark Harden of the Denver Business Journal (where Frontier has its hub) Frontier had the highest complaint rate at the beginning of 2013.

A check by Hair Balls found the same thing. There were some compliments, but others talked of encountering unfriendly, overstretched Frontier staffs who were either getting passengers on a plane at the gate or loading baggage onto the plane.

Some samples:

Not a stellar flight from PDX to IAH, but the return was truly horrid. We hit traffic, got lost and arrived with just 20 minutes to departure, but boarding passes and baggage fees receipts in hand because we knew we had to check baggage due to there extreme size and weight policies. There was no one at the counter. It turns out they close the counter 45 minutes before departure. Really? 2.5 hours later, around 20 people were waiting to check in. I had to pay $100 to rebook the next day and get a hotel.
23 October 2013 by C Kidd
My niece and her new husband were flying last Sunday, 10/6 from SLC to Denver and on to Cancun. They arrived at the ticket counter at 6.45 am for a 7.25 flight to Denver. Frontier has a policy that you have to check in at the ticket counter 45 minutes before your flight. No where on the printed ticket did it say that. When they arrived, the person at the ticket counter told them they were 5 minutes late so they would not let them check a bag or go through security. There were 6 other people in the same boat. When someone finally came back to the ticket counter 45 minutes later, they charged an extra $200 and were told to come back tomorrow. Frontier went out of their way to make sure people didn't get on their flight. We will never fly Frontier.
17 October 2013 by G Knight
arrived at the gate with 40 minutes until departure. They would not give me a boarding pass! Additionally the rude lady at the counter would not re-book me or put me on standby for another flight. I had to buy new same day tickets with Southwest Airlines. Worst of all, because I didn't make my outgoing flight, they cancelled my return flight
. 25 September 2013 by C Donnelley

Those of us who arrive at airports at least two hours before a flight probably can handle Frontier and its no exceptions policy. For those inclined to run late, you might want to take another airline, even if it costs a bit more.


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43 comments
frontierSUXS
frontierSUXS

And the only difference is if you check in online. You don't even need to print a boarding pass or anything. If you check in online, for some crazy reason, even though you still need to go through the same process as those who haven't checked in online, you can't get a boarding pass.

frontierSUXS
frontierSUXS

Had the same experience. Got to the Denver airport 50+ minutes before the flight. Tried using the check-in kiosks, which were ALL SHUT DOWN OR  BROKEN. Went to the counter, and by the time someone finally came to help, it was 43 minutes before the flight...at DENVER...where it takes, at most 15 minutes to get through security. And each employee kept sending us to other people who kept trying to send us back to the original employee. Simply TERRIBLE. Cheap, but not cheap enough to justify their awfulness. Fly Southwest, instead (plus that comes with bags!). Simply awful. My friend, who needed to pick up his 7 year old daughter first thing in the morning, had to hussle to find someone, in the middle of the night, to get to her in the morning. Simply awful. 

mfst
mfst

Just had the same experience. We left in tine to be at the airport 2.5 hours before departure. Due to a car fire on the highway in the colorado mountains, traffic was totally stopped. I walked up to the frontier desk at 44 min prior to take off. They refused and insisted the only option was to fly out the next morning at $75 a ticket.... there were 7 of us and 3 under the age of 8. I have never experienced such rude behavior from an agent who showed no sympathy. Even if there was nothing she could do, she didnt have to be rude to me. $1000 later for hotel and the change of flight fees, we are now eaiting at the gate. I fly all the time, this was my first and last time to fly frontier. Most airlines go out of thier way to help customers get to the gate on time

joyous2
joyous2

This happened to me -- 1 minute late and NO PLANE had arrived. It was the last flight out of Washington DC that night and the woman at the desk could not have cared less.  


Moreover, I'm not some slacker who had screwed around and not arrived on time.  I tried several times that day to check in for my flight online and Frontier's online check-in was "down."  I sat on hold for over 30 minutes waiting to check in via a customer service agent, only to be disconnected.  


I loved this airline when it was Midwest Airlines.  I absolutely hate flying them now.  I only use them as a last resort. 

Noflightforme
Noflightforme

This happened to me, except in my case there was actually somebody at the check-in desk. She just point blank refused to print me a boarding pass. There was no line at security, the plane hadn't started boarding yet and was at the first gate. I only had carry on lugguage. Nope, she wouldn't budge. No boarding pass for me.


I used to think it's great that there are people at check-in desks, but if they are going to be as unfriendly and a unflexible as a computer kiosk, then they may as well be replaced by a computer kiosk.

virginia2000
virginia2000

The worst airline ever!

 By design the minimal staff on duty are very unhelpful.  My recent flight had 14 blind people and 3 service dogs aboard.  I watched the Frontier Airlines flight crew stand by while blind people struggled to find and retrieve overhead bags and then make it down the isle with bags and cane.  Finally, after watching 6 blind people go through this struggle the passengers asked the crew to pitch in. 


 If you book a ticket through a third party the baggage fees are higher.  $50 per bag for cary on and $25 per bag that is checked, more for additional bags.  If you want an actual seat assignment there is an additional fee.  I requested seats when I booked the flight not realizing that this was merely a request!  Needless to say it was denied!  I needed to spend an additional $50 per person to secure an assigned seat one way!


Bait and switch is not a sustainable business model.

AnalHerpes
AnalHerpes

Next time the young prick will be on time.

Anse
Anse

For all of you doofuses lecturing this young man on this learning experience, I would agree; take notes on not how to treat your customers and make a pledge to be better than Frontier Airlines.

flyairhost
flyairhost

GOOD!!!!  Glad he got denied boarding...  As a new "business graduate" this guy must learn the word "punctuality"....  be early and on-time for all your business appointments, meetings, interviews...  I mean, don't they teach that in business school?  This will teach him a lesson and I will bet that he won't be late for another flight ever again.  And I don't even know why this is newsworthy... more important things to worry about than a spoiled brat moaning and bitching that he was late and should be able to board a flight... NOT!!!

Megan Caldwell
Megan Caldwell

Every airline has a cut-off time, and if you walk up afterwards and they check you in anyway you're being done a HUGE favor and should act accordingly.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Should have been on time bud.  NO SOUP FOR YOU!  

Try being one minute late to meeting with a potential client and see where that gets you.

MsMStone
MsMStone

Last Saturday I got to airport 1.5 hours in advance & had a ticket saved to my phone (I had checked-in the day before).  When Frontier would only accept a paper ticket, I waited in line at the counter where there was only one agent.  When it was my turn, it was 8:02 am & the agent refused to print b/c it was 43 min before the flight.  Six of us "missed" our flight.  The ticket agent just tweezed her eyebrows while we begged her to help.  The next day, the same manager (Yodit) and same ticket agent authorized 5 passengers' tickets to be printed 35 minutes before the flight.  Very inconsistent with policies!

Kristina Michel
Kristina Michel

If he knew he wasn't gonna be taking bags to check in at the front, why didn't he just check in online and print out his boarding pass? Then, he wouldn't have had to wait in line and could've gone straight from the security checkpoint to the gate. Better yet, why would you only leave a 44-minute window between getting to the airport and to your gate, especially at an airport as large and as busy as Bush? I've been to airports where it took 45 minutes just to get through security!

Jeff Hunter
Jeff Hunter

Frontier airlines is a horrible airline.

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

Sorry kid, think of this as a learning experience.   If you're not 15 minutes early, you're late.

Here's another pro-tip for a budding entrepreneur:  If I was thinking about doing business with you and Googled your name to discover thsi article, you can bet your sweet tushy I'd find someone else more responsible and less whiny with which to conduct trade.  You sound like someone who doesn't know how to accept responsibility for their mistakes.

John D Vrbanac
John D Vrbanac

Flew frontier once. Followed all the rules, was there early, and still had an awful experience. Never again will they see a dollar from me

Chris Caswell
Chris Caswell

So you don't follow the rules and you complain - makes complete sense. He wasn't even in a queue. I'm in singapore coming home to houston - get over it. Not news, even for the press (stuart r u listening)? This is crap

jberlat1
jberlat1

Late is late. is being 5 minutes late different than 30 minutes late? Two hours early is a bit much, but know your airline. 

William Caput
William Caput

I experienced the same problem with United. Just get a mobile boarding pass on your phone, or print your ticket from home. Airlines are terrible and live to make travelers miserable.

Ryan Cope
Ryan Cope

That's straight up dick-ish. There are lots of low-cost airlines with far worse customer service that wouldn't even pull this number. I wonder what statement they're making and why?

Adam Socki
Adam Socki

We need an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights!

paval
paval

The Frontier Airlines Webpage states that check in cutoff is 45 minutes prior to departure. The Conditions are part of the agreement a user signs off on when placing his/her flight booking online. 

44 minutes before departure is not 45 minutes before departure, hence it is late. 

I do not understand where the problem is, besides of course of the hassle created by showing up late one minute. Seems disproportionate when compared to the consequences. However sometimes small mistakes can lead to big consequences. If one is adult enough to sign his own contracts, one has to be adult enough to face the consequences for unilaterally breaking the conditions of that contract. 


flyairhost
flyairhost

By the way, every airline have this rule now...  United, JetBlue, American.... And some other airlines (specially international carriers) require even more time.  So Michael and you better check before your next flight... oh wait... it will be the airline fault's again... right?

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

@Anse According to the article, the airline staff runs the check-in desk until 45 minutes before the flight, at which point they move to cover the gate.  

According to you, in order to bend over backwards to accomodate customers who can't be bothered to arrive in a timely manner, they should put off their transition to gate duty until every special snowflake's needs have been attended to, and thereby give a big middle finger to all of the responsible people who arrived on time and are waiting to board.

The airline published a schedule, and they adhered to it.  That's not bad customer service...

Anse
Anse

@flyairhost No doubt, when running a business, shake your finger at your customers and remind them that you are under no obligation to make allowances when things don't go precisely as planned. This is a surefire strategy for success. I'm guessing Frontier will be the nation's most profitable airline in a year or two. 

flyairhost
flyairhost

@MsMStone I always keep a paper ticket/boarding pass printed as a back-up.  Once there was a computer outage at La Guardia and only people with paper boarding passes where allowed on the flight.  Always print a copy as a back-up.  You will never know when you will run out of power on your phone, the phone breaks, your phone stop working, you loose it on the way to the airport...  I mean, I've seen all of the above.  Better be safe than sorry...

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

@Kristina Michel No see it's someone else's fault this precious little snowflake missed his flight, how dare you suggest he demonstrated poor judgement.

You monster!

fiorello
fiorello

@metatronarchetype  

I'm betting you don't fly much and don't do much business with anyone, early or late, and that you were bullied as a kid, have heavy bitterness baggage and find it hard to make friends, both on the internet and in real life.

flyairhost
flyairhost

@Adam Socki There is an Airline Passenger bills of rights in place... and the fact is that he was late.... this guy needs to take full responsibility for his action and accept the fact that he was late.  Period!!!!  People need to be accountable for their own actions and stop the blame game. 

mimobrow
mimobrow

The issue is that when you purchase a ticket from orbitz they do not inform you of this rule. Frontier is breaking away from using third parties but until then they need to correct this issue

mimobrow
mimobrow

Hello, the issue i have is not so much the rule itself but that i was not informed of the rule when i purchased the ticket. The security line was short so that would not have been a problem. They said orbitz is screwing over their customers by not informing customers of this policy. I adamantly believe the airline should fix this issue with orbitz so that this does not continually happen, instead of blaming orbitz for being negligent. Finally, i was just schocked that customer service was so unresponsive and indifferent. I take customer relations seriously and i simply wanted an explanation of why i could not find the information about this rule (remember, buying from orbitz, not the website)

mimobrow
mimobrow

Perhaps I was not clear in my description of the event, in which I apologize. I am not angry that Frontier has a 45-minute rule, but that I was not informed of this rule upon purchasing the ticket.  If you buy the ticket through the Frontier website, you clearly get to see that they have a 45 minute rule. However, if you buy from a third party, such as Orbitz, then a customer has no idea about this rule and is subject to missing their flight. I fly quite a bit and depending on the airport will arrive 45 to 90 minutes early, factoring in size of airport and time, and the population was sparse and security line short.  Therefore, the four of us who missed our flight would have been easily waiting for the plane if we had been able to check in. Even after the workers were paged, they did not come knowing customers were waiting because Frontier has the front workers also help load the plane, leaving anyone ignorant of this particular rule with a missed flight. My quandary with this whole situation is with the simple fact that Frontier continues to blame Orbitz for not informing their customers of this rule, which has left NUMEROUS customers in a very difficult and expensive situation. They should either resolve this miscommunication with Orbitz or stop using third parties to sell their tickets (this is what they are leaning towards). The people at the airport say this happens everyday and the consumer reviews support such claims. When there is a consistent problem with a service, FIX IT!  Nevertheless, this is a learning experience and I hope others vicariously learn so they do not fall in this same situation. Cheers!

flyairhost
flyairhost

@Anse @flyairhost Poor you.... I guess you are a friend defending the fact that Michael showed up late.  The world should stop for Michael and you to wait for you to take care of your personal business, inconvenience everyone else until you are ready...  Yes!  Get off your lecturing yourself and realize that Frontier is a business and Michael showing up late has nothing to do with Frontier.  Is about Michael and his lateness and not taking responsibility but blaming everyone else for his shortcomings. 

flyairhost
flyairhost

@metatronarchetype HA HA HA HA!!!!  So true.... no one ever wants to take responsibility....  it is someone else's fault... always!

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

@fiorello @metatronarchetype Dude kids kill themselves over getting bullied, it's really not something to joke about.  You need to spend some time looking in the mirror and thinking about what you've done wrong.  Maybe you'll stop being so awful.

flyairhost
flyairhost

@mimobrow Everyone knows that you need to be at the airport early... take into account long lines at the ticket counter, security, tsa, big airports, traffic...  sounds like a hassle but it is true.  It is not Orbitz or the airline's fault... it is Michael Brown's fault.  Plain and simple.

flyairhost
flyairhost

@mimobrow Hey there... glad to see your 'extended explanation' of the events.  However, here is the deal.  Unless you have been living under a rock since 9/11, you know you need to be at the airport early, plain and simple.  As you mentioned, you are a recent business graduate. I believe (and hope) you were taught about punctuality.  In addition, taking responsibility for your own and action and faults it is another important rule of business.  Finally, stop the blame game.  It is not Orbitz or Frontier's fault.  It is your own fault you were late. And even if there was an agent at the counter, did you account for long lines at security?  A long walk to the gate?  Obviously, you did not... You expected to check-in at the counter late and walk through security with one one else in line and the plane waiting for you with the red-carpet rolled out and directly to your seat? Be a grown up, accept responsibility and be on-time and early.  Besides, I don't even know why you went to the media with this.  As a young entrepreneur, you need to realize that many prospect clients are reading this.  Do I want you working for me?  After this, probably not.  Stop the temper-tantrum and be a man.  Thanks for listening. 

MsMStone
MsMStone

@metatronarchetype @wyatt @Anse When an agent refused to print my pass 43 minutes before a flight (and five others), she sat there at the ticket counter the entire time & tweezed her eyebrows.  She wasn't needed at the gate.

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