Winter weather caused widespread delays across the western half of the country this past weekend, but Denver, it seems, got the worst of it (and not just from the Patriots).
According to USA Today, more than 5,000 flights have been canceled and nearly 20,000 delayed since Thursday. But the scene at Denver, particularly for Frontier Airlines customers, was especially bad:
“Stranded passengers of that airline took to social media in droves, with many showing pictures of long lines of passengers trying to rebook their flights. Others complained of being stuck at the airport for more than a day. Local media reports showed growing piles of luggage, with Frontier apparently unable to keep bags headed in the right direction as its operation bogged down.”
Even the pilots’ union got into the Frontier-bashing act, calling the incident a “meltdown” that stems from “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.”
So what the heck happened? Frontier spokesperson David Faulkner explained: “We had large numbers of [crewmembers] who were stranded outside of Denver over the weekend, and many were scheduled to operate flights from Denver to somewhere else. In some cases, we had a plane but no crew to fly it because of the weather.”
As of yesterday, operations were still struggling toward normalcy. Faulkner said the focus was on reuniting travelers with their bags.
The airline apologized to affected customers, but that may not enough. The airline’s recently rebranded itself as an ultra low-cost carrier, and the change has led to a (probably predictable) spike in customer complaints and diminished on-time performance, according to USA Today. The pilots’ union noted this specifically, saying, “Frontier’s private investors … must decide whether they want to run a reliable airline or loot it. If it’s the former, they must invest in the infrastructure and frontline employees who are trying to succeed without corporate support.”
Whether this latest incident is a reflection of an airline in transition or a sign of things to come remains to be seen. But as usual, customers are caught, or perhaps stranded, in the middle.