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Two days ago, I wrote about the launch of Frontier Airlines’ “More Room” seats.
Beginning 8 May 2020 (tomorrow), passengers would have the opportunity to, essentially, purchase empty middle seats next to them for just $39 per flight.
FRONTIER ABANDONS THAT IDEA
Last night, lawmakers on Capitol Hill bashed Frontier Airlines over their move to charge passengers extra and guarantee an empty middle seat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said:
I don’t think it’s appropriate for some passengers who can’t afford to pay an additional charge for a seat to be less safe than other travelers.
Many accused Frontier of trying to profit off people’s safety fears and Frontier CEO Barry Biffle dismissed that charge.
But after congress criticized the decision even more, he wrote a letter to a handful of Congressional members stating the airline would not proceed with the new program on Friday.
In the letter, Biffle explained “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.”
Biffle went on to say the airline made the decision after noticing it was exceeding 50% systemwide load factors and “trending higher on many flights over the coming weeks.
“Social distancing becomes more problematic as flights fill up and, therefore, we chose to require face masks for everyone. While we believe this ensures safety, we knew some customers wanted more peace of mind and therefore we introduced the More Room product that guaranteed an empty middle seat” he continued.
The U.S. airlines have all grounded a major percentage of their planes and considerably cut flight schedules in response to the record-low demand for air travel (a reduction of ~95% compared to last year).
Although airline competitors have decided to block middle seats (without a charge to passengers), planes are also departing empty. But what happens when the flights begin to fill up? Will they still block the middle seat? Realistically, no airline is going to block middle seats for “free” long term because it’s about the the bottom line.
If passengers paid to block the middle seat on Frontier, it would guaranteed because you paid for the seat.
What are your thoughts? Good decision or bad decision by Frontier? Do passengers want the option to buy the middle seat when flights are more than 50% full? Would you rather pay more in airfare price or pay a guaranteed $39 for the middle seat? Is Frontier fleecing passengers?