Washington, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Federation of America condemned Frontier Airline’s extra charge to enable passengers to travel safer on their flights. “When the country’s major airlines are keeping middle seats open for no charge to protect their passengers, Frontier’s plan to charge for this needed protection is simply outrageous price gouging during this crisis,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. Airlines requesting financial relief from taxpayers while at the same time charging customers extra for safety illustrates why the CFA is calling for added oversight of the industry. “Congress must absolutely include protections for the flying public in the next COVID-19 relief bill. Outrageous add-on fees were already a growing problem for the flying public before the pandemic, but this is beyond the pale,” said Grant. “People shouldn’t have to pay more to protect themselves from the virus or be faced with the decision of whether to risk their lives to get where they need to go.”
Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen and Chuy Garcia and Senator Ed Markey wrote to Frontier Airlines expressing “significant concern” about its new “More Room” seat pricing policy. CFA thanks these members of Congress for demanding that consumers be protected from this shameful behavior. Senator Markey and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, and Kamala Harris recently criticized the airlines for failing to issue cash refunds to passengers for unused tickets, even those who are legally entitled to their money back because their flights were cancelled, even as those businesses have received large cash infusions from taxpayers. “Airlines are supposed to serve the public, and they should be obliged to put passenger welfare first,” said Grant. “Congress should stand up to the airlines and require cash refunds for consumers who don’t want to or can’t use their tickets during this health emergency, and to prohibit extra charges for safety measures such as social distancing.” Cancelation charges, change fees, and fare differences should be required to be waived, not just left to the discretion of the airlines, she noted. “The airlines’ recent behavior richly demonstrates what we have been saying for years – the industry must be reformed to ensure that passengers are treated fairly and to give them meaningful recourse if they are not,” said Grant.