Frontier Airlines Quickly Scraps COVID-19 Ticket Surcharge

Frontier Airlines has scrapped its controversial “COVID Recovery Charge” from its tickets. The $1.59 per passenger per flight charge was added in May to pay for aircraft sanitation and other health measures. However, the move drew outrage from passengers who saw it as unnecessary and just another way to increase revenues.

Frontier Airbus A320neo
Frontier has dropped the charge after widespread condemnation by the flying public. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Gone

According to One Mile At A Time (OMAAT), Frontier Airlines has backed off its newly-added “COVID Recovery Charge” (CRC) less than a month after its introduction. The $1.59 charge applied to every sector flown by a passenger and could be seen during the fare breakdown section. While surcharges are nothing new for ultra-low-cost airlines like Frontier, the use of the CRC has drawn the ire of many.

At the time of writing, Frontier’s website still defines the charge as being for “increased sanitation and cleaning onboard the aircraft and in the airport, shields at the ticket counters and gate areas, and personal protective equipment for employees.”

Frontier Airlines plane sanitation
As has every airline, Frontier has been sanitizing its planes for well over a year now. Photo: Frontier Airlines

However, passengers were unhappy with this extra charge and spoke out against it vociferously when it was noticed a few days ago. The primary contention is that Frontier has been sanitizing planes and providing PPE to its employees since last March, meaning nothing has changed in the last few weeks.

Instead, many labeled the move as a “cash grab” and a way to milk out just a few more dollars from passengers as traffic recovers to pre-pandemic levels. Considering Frontier’s major expansion plans, this could be another way to increase revenues through innocuous-looking surcharges.

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Defense

In a statement today, Frontier responded to the criticism and announced the scrapping of the charge (kind of). Here’s what a spokesperson said,

“Frontier Airlines has made the decision to rescind its Covid Recovery Charge of $1.59 per passenger per segment that was implemented in May. The charge, which was included in the airline’s total promoted fare versus an add-on fee, was meant to provide transparency and delineate what portion of the fare was going toward Covid-related business recovery, including repayment of a CARES Act loan from the U.S. Government. However, to avoid misinterpretation, the airline will discontinue the practice of breaking out this category within its overall promoted fares.”

Frontier Airbus A320neo
Frontier defended its surcharge as the move towards more transparency among the myriad of extra fees. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Recently, Frontier Airlines received another massive CARES Act loan from the Treasury, totaling $150 million. However, adding a surcharge on taxpayers to pay back the taxpayers seems to be quite ironic, as highlighted by OMAAT. Clearly, Frontier has acted quickly on the blowback and will instead include the “COVID Recovery Charge” in its Carrier Interface Charge instead.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time Frontier has found itself on the wrong side of public attention. Last May, the carrier added a middle seat fee (of $39) for those hoping to travel without a neighbor. The additional “social distancing” fee did not go down well with passengers and lawmakers and quickly became history. For now, Frontier should probably avoid adding new fees during May, or in the middle of a pandemic in general.

What do you think about Frontier’s COVID Recovery Charge? Is it acceptable? Let us know in the comments!

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