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Frontier Airlines Drops Plan to Charge Fee for Passengers Who Want to Social Distance on Flights After Backlash

by Kimberly Krol

May 6, 2020

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eFlyer Lead

Frontier Airlines quickly shifted plans to charge a fee for passengers who want to social distance on flights after backlash. Frontier was planning to add a new option to its list of for-purchase extras. In addition to charging for extras such as carry-on bags, seat assignments, soft drinks and snacks, it was going to add the More Room seat option for as low as $39, and as much as $89, depending on the flight. The More Room option would come with a blocked middle seat to ensure social distancing.

Following backlash from the traveling public, as well as the government, Frontier decided to rescind the extra fee and will block the middle seats from being sold. Democrats railed against Frontier’s plan, and the chairman of the House Transportation Committee called it “outrageous.” The president of Airlines for America, a trade group for U.S. carriers (Frontier is not a member), said none of the member airlines have a similar charge.

“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,” CEO Barry Biffle, Frontier, wrote in a letter to congressional members. The letter was in response to a letter sent to Frontier earlier from congressmen including Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Tickets for the More Room seat option were available for sale beginning Monday, and Biffle said those who already purchased tickets to block seats will have the request granted.

The More Room offer was to available from May until August. United Airlines announced it would block all middle seats on aircraft to allow for social distancing, but at no charge despite it reducing capacity by a third on most aircraft. Delta Air Lines is also blocking middle seats. Frontier’s Biffle originally said the airline won’t block all middle seats because it would result in higher airfares.

Frontier’s other safety measures include requiring all crew and passengers to wear facial coverings and requiring passengers to complete a form acknowledging they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms. Frontier also implemented a fogging technique — electrically charged disinfectant is applied to all aircraft surfaces prior to flight. And, in two weeks, the airline is also planning to check temperatures of passengers.

Do you agree with the government intervention and Frontier’s decision to rescind the fee? Tell us about it. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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