A dramatically changed schedule on Frontier should lead to a refund

Beth Bixel books a flight on Frontier Airlines. Later, the airline changes the departure time. The new schedule has her arriving at her destination too late. She cancels the ticket, but is charged anyway. Can our advocates help her get her money back?

Question: I recently booked nonstop round-trip flights from Cleveland to San Francisco on Frontier Airlines. Five days after booking, I received an email from Frontier informing me that my flights had changed. I would now have a stopover in Denver and arrive in San Francisco nine hours later. And, the return flight would have an overnight layover in Denver. The email gave me an option to accept the change, which I didn’t do.

I tried calling Frontier, but was on hold for at least 20 minutes. So, I decided to just cancel the tickets online. I received a refund less a $198 cancellation fee. I had no choice but to cancel the tickets and shouldn’t have been charged a cancellation fee. Can you help me get the rest of my money back? — Beth Bixel, Willoughby, Ohio

Answer: When your flight changed significantly, you had an option to accept it, change it or cancel it without penalty. For flights with a schedule change over three hours, the Frontier policy allows a passenger to accept the flight, change the fight or request a refund. Accepting the change doesn’t require any action. But, canceling the flight requires you to contact the airline or submit an online refund request.

The problem you encountered was caused by going online to cancel your reservation on your own. The Frontier system didn’t process your cancellation and refund under its schedule change policy. It processed it according to the terms of your ticket. You would have needed to speak to a Frontier agent so that the fee didn’t apply to your cancellation. Or, you could have submitted the online refund request for the full amount of the cancelled flight.

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Once Frontier charged you the $198 cancellation fee, you contacted our advocates for help. But, before seeking help from our advocates, you could have posted your question to our help forums. Our help forums are staffed by travel industry experts, who may have had helpful suggestions about how to address this issue with the airline. Or, you could have tried contacting the company through its website. If that was unsuccessful, you then could have escalated your complaint by contacting company executives for help. We list executive contact information for Frontier Airlines on our website.

Our advocates contacted Frontier on your behalf. The airline confirmed that you did not follow the steps for any of the three options given to you. You didn’t communicate with Frontier by phone because of the long hold time, and you canceled your trip via the website. Had you spoken to an agent, or submitted the refund request form, the cancellation fees wouldn’t have applied. The airline agreed to refund the $198 and processed the refund the same day.

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

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