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Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in Blog |

More Choice, Perks & Savings When I BUY or FLY Frontier Airlines?

Written from the air on Friday, September 13, 2013.

Dear Frontier Airlines,

Today is my first flight with you, Frontier Airlines. In fact, I am writing this from Flight 831. I sure picked a weird day to fly to Colorado. Just after fastening my seatbelt for takeoff, the captain informed us that our flight to Denver was delayed for 2 hours because the flooding is so bad that many  air traffic controllers couldn’t make it to work today. Eesh. Friday the 13th? Nah, I’m not superstitious.

Frontier FlightOverall, Frontier, I’m impressed. Your personnel have been friendly & personable.  When the delay was announced, we were allowed to deplane to get lunch while we waited. My seats are comfortable and the cabin is spacious. I feel that I got a great deal on my flight. I’m not a parent, but thank you for announcing baby changing tables are available in the lavatory. I like a family-friendly company.

But, recently you made one big mistake, Frontier. When I checked in at the ticketing counter I was informed that as of August 6, 2013, Frontier is charging passengers $25-100 for carry on bags if they book through a 3rd party site like Orbitz or Travelocity. Before boarding at the gate, a Frontier staff member made a dramatic announcement and told everyone they should book directly through Frontier if they don’t want to pay these high fees. So your own staff admit these are high fees? I booked my flight through my preferred third party vendor, Kayak.com, but somehow I was lucky not to be charged a fee. So why am I griping?

Frontier, you are punishing customers for finding your flights on third party booking sites. Unless I missed something, you benefited from me going to Kayak.com and booking your flight. Without Kayak, I probably wouldn’t have known your flight existed and would have booked with my usual airline (who I know so well, I do just go to their website).

But what do I know? Perhaps certain booking sites hiked up their fees and cut unfairly into your profit margins. IF this is the case, why don’t you and these sites break up, like American Airlines has done? On the other hand, if this new fee simply off-sets marketing & referral rates, why are you charging me? Prove to me why adding this fee adds value to me.

I think this new policy is not adding value to anyone–not even yourself. You are hurting your brand by allowing customers to find your sites through convenient flight booking sites and then making us log-on to your site directly and book if we want a ‘free carry-on’. In the tech world, this is considered a bad user experience. In the business world, this is considered bad service.

Instead, why not offer a carrot instead of thwacking customers with a stick? For example, carry-on bags go back to being free for everyone who flies with you, no matter how they find you. But if they book directly with you, they get extra flight miles or perks if they are a member of your Early Returns rewards program. Aha! An incentive that encourages the transactional behavior you want but also funnels customers into your loyalty program.

I’m enjoying my Frontier flight. I would like to consider you a possible go-to airline. But don’t slap a bogus fee on my carry-on bag because you are pissed off about third party fees. Maybe someone in your business development department is sitting back going, ‘Yeah, but I bet now she’ll log-on to Frontier.com directly and buy from us. Mission accomplished.” It’s possible. But I will tell you that unless it is a familiar flight to me, I use Kayak.com first. I may decide not to fly Frontier because bottom line, this is a punitive customer policy and you and I both know it. Don’t take away value and then try to sell to me like you are actually ‘adding value’ to my experience by giving me something I have expected all along, which is a free freakin’ carry on bag.

Frontier Airlines NapkinThe napkin on my tray table says “More Choice. More Perks. More Savings When You Buy at Frontier.com”. As a customer, I’d like to think that my options with Frontier are “More Choice. More Perks. More Savings When I Fly with Frontier.com.” Don’t you agree?