I sincerely regret that I have to write this letter. I think it is my duty as a consumer to advise you of the events that occurred with your airline employees at McCarran International airport on June 25, 2006. This was, in all of my years of travel, the worst experience with an airline and its' personnel that I have ever had. In fact, it was undoubtedly my worst experience with any company in general let alone an airline. For the sake of the health of your organization I think it is vital that you be made aware of the gross mistreatment I received from your employees as well as their unreasonable enforcement of airline policy.
Sunday morning, at approximately 9:10a.m. I was 5 minutes late for the 45 minute check in that Frontier Airlines requires (though nowhere on my e-ticket did it say that). The ticket agent, a petite, young woman with blond hair named Kristin asked if I was on this flight to Denver. I told her yes, expecting her to try to help me make the flight as there was still 40 minutes left and this has happened to me before with other airlines. She flat out said, "You aren't getting on the plane." I told her light-heartedly that I was a fast walker but she refused. While remaining calm and friendly I asked her to please let me try to make my flight. She said, "NO, absolutely not." I have to mention that she did not smile, smirk, laugh or come close to breaking that death glare, pinched face, snippy voice at any time. She then said she was putting my bags on standby for the next flight and that I "MIGHT" be able to get on the standby flight with my bags. I thanked her and hurried to the gate.
So, I arrive at the gate in approximately 10-12 minutes and approach the ticket agent there. Richard Anderson (taller with salt and pepper hair and a beard) did not look pleased to see me. I, on the other hand was thrilled to see that the plane had NOT ARRIVED. I told him what happened and he started to slowly type some things on the computer and tell me what I already knew, which was that Kristen had not checked me in. I said, "Well I'm here now, so can you check me in now?" He sighed and heaved and started pecking at the keys again. I was perplexed as to why they still wouldn't let me on the flight (since I was there and since the plane was not). Again he told me he couldn't do anything.
I asked to speak to a manager and then he made a call and came back to me saying that the manager was Kristen from downstairs and that she WASN'T GOING TO HELP ME. Meanwhile the plane arrives and passengers begin deplaning. I again try to plead to Richards's rational side by saying that I was a paying customer who purchased a round trip ticket between Chicago Midway and Las Vegas and that I was here and ready and there was no real reason on God's green earth why I shouldn't be put on my flight.
Again, I'm subject to that vacant, vapid look that I will become so accustomed to in dealing with the McCarran Frontier ground crew. Richard asks if I had any bags. I told him that Kristen had put them on standby for the next flight. Richard seemed relieved by this and told me that I have to travel with my bags. Then he walked away. I couldn't leave as I was utterly stunned. I looked over to Richard and he was whispering behind a clipboard to the two young women who were taking boarding passes. They both shot me darting glances. I have a very hard time believing that hard fast rule of traveling with bags since I know from personal experience that that is not always the case.
As I waited there until MY plane was boarding, I tried to ask the other Frontier employees questions about why I could not get on the plane. One was a young African American girl with a head band and short braids, the other a woman of Latina descent and long brown hair, both appearing about 20-22. Neither of them would LOOK at me to answer any of my questions. They would either fiddle with some papers, type on the keyboard or simply WALK AWAY from me. I have to point out that I had yet to raise my voice beyond an excited "Please, please, can you let me on this plane?" I had not insulted, scowled, glared, condescended to, swore or anything that would peg me as a difficult or unmanageable passenger. Conversely, all of those things, swearing aside, had been done to me by multiple McCarran Frontier ground employees.
I notice a short African American man in glasses at the Frontier counter. I naively think he may be able to help me at least get bumped up the standby list and show me my options once I got to Denver. AGAIN I'm greeted with a sigh and a glare. I have been flying on a regular basis for 30 years and I know how to deal with customer service people. It is annoying enough to have a customer service representative who does their job and does what is in the best interest of the customer but may be sort of rude about it, but it is a complete travesty to have someone who is both unhelpful and does not meet the minimum requirements of being able to communicate with human beings.
I explained my plight as quickly as I could. He said he couldn't tell if I would get on standby until that flight was closed. He went on to say that he couldn't guarantee me a seat on the flight from Denver to Chicago and there were only two seats left. The only way to guarantee is to buy a one-way ticket from Denver to Chicago. He told me it would cost $225. I gave him my card wanting desperately to get home. So he typed away for literally 10 minutes, not really answering my questions.
A major line had formed behind me. The gentleman still typed away and would not make eye contact to answer any of my mom's or her friend Mike's (who coincidentally had just landed in Las Vegas) questions. None of us can really believe that I hadn't been allowed to board the plane in the first place even though I beat it to the gate. Finally the gentleman said that while we've been standing here the ticket price had gone up to $409!!!! I nearly threw up. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. We were given no options, no help and not even ONE apology the throughout this entire ordeal. While the gentleman is unapologetically taking my mother's money, Richard Anderson walks back up to the counter and asks with a smirk if I'm feeling better. I actually said, "No, not really, but my mom's here. Thank you for asking."
We stood there waiting to see if I would be getting on this next flight. We were ready to have them go get my bags off the flight if they weren't going to let me on, though I've never seen that happen. They did say I couldn't travel without them all the while saying that I may not get on this flight. The gentleman did call my name; I thanked him as I grabbed my boarding pass. I kissed my mom and hugged Mike and boarded the plane.
My seat is in the emergency row. The flight attendant stops and asks If I'm comfortable sitting in the exit row. I tell her, "I can't wait." She starts laughing. The next thing you know I see her coming back down the aisle with the African American gentleman from the Frontier counter behind her. I hear her asking people in the seats around me if they wouldn't mind switching seats with me. I was extremely confused. I'd just told her I was happy to be in the emergency row. The gentleman directly in front of me said he'd switch. So I got up to switch with him. I joked to the man next to me that, "They don't trust me." The flight attendant smiled and laughed and told me, "That's not it." The African American man then loudly announced, "YOU'VE HAD A BIT TO DRINK."
I have never in my life been so stunned, humiliated and enraged all at the same time. I sat down and bowed my head because I knew everyone on this full plane was staring at me. Still, as I type this, I really cannot believe that it actually happened. I had now been completely publicly humiliated by a representative of the company to which I had paid over $600.00 for horrible services.
The flight attendant came back and offered to buy my Direct TV for me. I pursed my lips with my head still down and shook my head no. She came back again during beverage service and knelt down and said how sorry she was that that had happened. That the African American man thought he smelled alcohol on me. Given that this was Las Vegas I'd bet that the majority of the people on the plane smelled like alcohol. I'd been out until 4:00am and I knew my mouth tasted stale, I knew I maybe smelled, but I also new that I was not drunk. The flight attendant actually argued with the gentleman and said that when she'd talked to me, in no way did she think I was the least bit drunk. I explained that regardless of the night before I was most certainly not drunk now. She told me that she, "…didn't know what went on out there with him but thought it was weird."
I didn't think it was weird. I thought that it was perfectly consistent with how I'd been treated up to this point. I was confused because several times I have flown with people who were actually drunk and the flight crew handled them with complete discretion, never even uttering the word "drunk".
I have traveled with Frontier for several years. I love the fares, the flight crew has always been friendly and I'm a sucker for the animals on the tail. I prefer to spend my money at smaller airlines as opposed to the monster conglomerates. However, this experience has saddened me to the fullest extent. No other passenger should ever experience the rudeness, the unreasonable policies, lack of compassion, defamation of character in a public forum, false accusations and slander. I hope that you take proper action against these employees. I trust that your human resources department can identify the people that I have written about based on the details I have provided. If you have further questions I implore you to contact me via phone or email.
My first instinct was to sue for slander for accusing me of drinking in front of a plan full of people, though it would be near impossible to show damages. What I would like out of this ordeal first and foremost is an apology. Second, I would like to have the money refunded from the ticket that I purchased to guarantee me a seat from Denver to Chicago. I have enclosed a copy of my receipt. Considering I had already purchased a roundtrip ticket, I would think that they could have used the money from the portion of the flight that I had already purchased and put it toward the change. They did not do that and it cost me over $600.00 to fly roundtrip from Chicago to Vegas. Third, I would like you to seriously consider that every single McCarran Frontier ground employee that I mentioned be severely reprimanded and/or terminated. Their actions were inexcusable and I highly doubt that I have been, or will be the only customer treated in the manner in which they treated me. Kristen, the manager, had her mind made up from the get go that she was in no way going to help me. I should have taken a clue from the unpleasant way in which she dealt with the woman and her two children in front of me and the woman behind me.
If I were you I would be ashamed, embarrassed and totally intolerant of the manner in which your staff has treated their paying customers. I have noticed a steady decline in service from airlines across the board. Please tell me that you will not allow people like this to drag down the Frontier name and further tarnish the industry as a whole. It would be refreshing to see an airline take responsibility for the actions of their employees and to ensure that their passengers are treated with the respect and helpfulness that they not only deserve, but that they have paid for.
Thank you for reading.
Frontier Airlines Flight 772 from Las Vegas, NV to Denver, CO.