Frontier backtracks on physical distance fee following congressional uproar

May 7, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Some chalked it up to “Frontier being Frontier,” but some members of Congress shared some harsher criticism for Frontier’s new “More Room” product that allowed passengers to secure an empty middle seat — for an additional fee.

“Frontier’s decision to charge passengers to keep middle seats empty is capitalizing on fear and passengers’ well-founded concerns for their health and safety,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) said in a press release. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair later called the move “callous profiteering,” and insisted that executives rethink their strategy.

Also on Wednesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) penned a letter to Frontier CEO Barry Biffle, sharing similar concerns about the new fee. “Essential travelers are already risking their health, and they should not be penalized with an additional ancillary fee to practice social distancing to the best of their ability. While your competitors such as Delta Airlines [stet] have rightfully decided to block off middle seats without a charge to passengers, Frontier Airlines has made the bewildering decision to punish the very customers it needs most.”

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news

While the new fee largely went unnoticed, during a week otherwise filled to the brim with coronavirus-related news, Congress brought broad attention to Frontier’s More Room fee, prompting the airline to quickly reverse course.

CEO Barry Biffle responded with a letter of his own, explaining:

We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent. We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space. However, we will rescind the seat price increase associated with the More Room product and revert to our former seat assignment pricing. We will leave the seats blocked which were associated with this product and honor purchases made by all customers who bought the product up until now. Further, we will continue to be consistent with the broader industry and make best efforts to ensure as much social distancing as possible throughout the aircraft.

The airline has indeed lowered its pricing for seats formerly branded as More Room, and has left the adjacent seats blocked as well. For example, you would have paid $89 for a “Stretch” seat earlier this week:

More: With 95% of flyers grounded, what it’s like flying in the U.S. right now?

That same seat is pricing at $60 today:

In his letter to Congress, Biffle also acknowledged that Frontier’s load factors have exceeded 50% this week, and are even higher for future bookings, pointing out that “social distancing becomes more problematic as flights fill up.”

Even without More Room, since the airline will continue to block adjacent seats, it could certainly be worth the extra cost for a pre-assigned Stretch or Standard seat, adding a bit more separation onboard.

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.

Related: 11 Things I Learned From My First Flights on Frontier

 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.