Frontier still sorting through problems after weekend ‘meltdown’ at DIA

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DENVER — Lines continued to grow at Denver International Airport on Tuesday after several Frontier Airlines flights were canceled, hundreds of passengers were stranded and luggage was lost in what the pilots union described as a “meltdown.”

A number of passengers continued to vent at the airline, saying while flights show to be on time, only after getting through security does it show otherwise.

Several people have described travel nightmares, of not getting home for their Christmas vacation and unable to find their luggage. And they said Frontier is doing little to help, with no hotels or food vouchers.

Passengers have been told they could be stranded for days and won’t reach their destination until the end of the week.

Frontier apologized on Monday and said the fiasco was related to the winter storm that hit Denver over the weekend. It said it was impacted more than other airlines because Denver is its largest operation.

It said stranded crews in different cities and crews that had reached their flight time limits were also to blame.

“We had large numbers of (pilots and flight attendants) who were stranded outside of Denver over the weekend, and many were scheduled to operate flights from Denver to somewhere else,” spokesman Jim Faulkner said. “In some cases, we had a plane but no crew to fly it because of the weather.

“Because our crews can only legally fly for a certain amount of time, many of them ‘timed out’ and were unable to continue on a trip.”

Passengers were tired of the excuses.

“It’s not weather anymore,” passenger Joy Sanders said. “They’re saying it’s a ripple effect from weather — it’s not weather. They’re not handling their business right or their flights right. They know if they don’t have a co-pilot ahead of time they should just reschedule the flight. Or done more flights to try to catch up on this.”

“I’ve heard it’s not about weather it’s about a walkout,” said Jayne Hellenberg, whose flight to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, was canceled on Sunday. “It’s our 25th anniversary. We’ve been planning this for a year. It’s kind of a bummer.”

Frontier said it has staff working overtime. It said it has received about 16,000 calls and 1,800 emails since the weekend. It is trying to process refunds as soon as possible as well as getting passengers rebooked.

Faulkner said the airline expected 60 percent of non-Denver luggage to have been put on flights to their final destinations. Baggage belonging to passengers staying in Denver were being delivered.

On Sunday, the Airline Pilots Association ripped the airline in a letter to its members, saying Frontier “once again fell on its face.” On Monday, in another statement, the union described the weekend situation as a “meltdown.”

“While weather conditions made operations for all airlines at Denver International Airport more challenging last weekend, this most recent meltdown by Frontier Airlines is due to the same executive mismanagement and misplaced focus on cost-cutting that has placed Frontier near the very bottom of the industry in operational performance and customer satisfaction,” Capt. Brian Ketchum said in a statement.

“Leaving passengers and even their own cockpit and cabin crews stranded for hours without information is outrageous — even moreso when this quarter was one of the airline’s most profitable ever financially.

“Frontier’s private investors, led by William Franke and Indigo Partners, must decide whether they want to run a reliable airline or loot it. If it’s the former, they must invest in the infrastructure and front-line employees who are trying to succeed without corporate support.”

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