Frontier Airlines GoWild Pass…The Journey So Far

I was away for about a month and just got home a couple of days ago.  Spoiler alert, I REALLY had to decompress after my last flight.

I wanted to be in Tulsa on May 13 because my besties daughter was graduating.  Usually I would take several days to road trip with my dogs, but I couldn’t confirm I was actually going to attend because I had to find a placement for my foster dog. Just THREE? days before, another foster stepped up to take him.  I decided it was the perfect time to break in my GoWild! pass.

Frontier no longer flies  to Tulsa and has no direct flights from Baltimore to Oklahoma City.  I could fly into Denver, then fly to OKC or I could fly to Las Vegas, then OKC.  I love Denver, but I’d never been to Vegas, so I decided that’s where I was going.

My first flight was set to depart at 9PM on May 9th.  At 5 1/2 hours of flight time, I would be arriving in Vegas at 11:30pm PDT /2:30am EDT.

We boarded the plane on time, but were then told there was a 30 minute delay because they needed to “top off the oil”.  Then:

And then:

At this point the Captain explained to us that the oil they needed wasn’t at BWI and they were waiting for some to be tracked down and delivered.  He did not sound pleased.

At 10:00 PM we were directed to exit the plane.  They were offering complimentary rebookings for anyone who wanted to do so.

This was followed by:

We reboarded the plane at 10:40.

The following message arrived just as we were departing, which was a little funny:

We finally arrived in Vegas at 1:15am PDT/ 4:15am EDT.  Despite all the delays and hassle, both the flight and gate crew were great and did an amazing job of taking care of everyone.

(I’ll cover my time in Vegas in another post.  )

My second flight for this trip was from Vegas to Oklahoma City on May 11.  It was a short, uneventful flight.

I was in Oklahoma for several weeks.

My third flight was from Oklahoma City to Denver on June 1st at 5:30pm. 

Notice the time they sent the alert?  That could have been done in a more timely manner.  The flight crew were obviously sick of being at work and wanted us all to go away. C+ flight.  It was fine. I guess.  At least it was beautiful flying into the area.

And then there was my fourth and final flight of this trip: Flight F9 562 from Denver to Baltimore, departing at 6:20AM on June 3.  Give me a moment to take some calming breaths so I can delve into this mess of an experience.

OK.  Ready.  Here goes.

The night before:

Already yuck, because I hate mornings, but it is what it is.

I was awake at 3 am, dressed and packed and waiting on my uber by 3:30 am.

The TSA line went on FOREVER.  It wound back and forth, switch-backing 20 or so times from one side of the room to the other, then down the hall, where it switch  backed twice more, before rounding another corner and passing by 6 or more baggage claim carousels.  Somehow I STILL made it to my gate on time.

I messaged my husband the following at 6:02AM (8:02 back home in Maryland):

I heard them call for Zone 1 passengers.  I was waiting for them to call my Zone (3).  And when they didn’t, I got up from the still very crowded seating area to ask the gate agent.  She glanced my way but was busy talking to another person and they were discussing something about calling security, so I stepped back to let them finish their conversation.  I moved about 10 feet away.  I watched her say one last thing to the man she was talking to, then she stepped away from him, walked thru the gate doors and closed them behind her.  I was so confused.

A woman behind me asked where the gate agent was.  I said she had just gone thru those closed doors.  This young woman went to the next gate (also Frontier) and asked for assistance.  They informed her that once the doors were closed, there was nothing to be done, they couldn’t help us and we would have to go to Frontier’s customer service counter.  A 3rd woman joined us, also asking why we hadn’t been boarded.  We watched as the doors were shut on the plane and the gate retracted, then found our way to the customer service counter.

The line was already 30 people deep and there was only one customer service agent at the desk.  For over two hours I waited in that line, talking with other people who hadn’t made their Frontier flights for one reason or another.  Several were from my flight and didn’t know how the heck they hadn’t made the flight.   Like me, they had never heard their zone called, and none of us had heard them call for missing passengers.  That last was something we discussed as we kept hearing other flights call for missing passengers or announce last call for boarding.  The two women from my flight who had originally joined me in the line gave up and left..  The rest of us in line watched as Frontier employees, with absolute lack of urgency wandered behind the desk and left again.  About 90 minutes into the wait one of the managers arrived and told the man at the desk that she would be out to help him in 15 minutes.  She never came back.

When I finally made it to the front of the line, I explained my situation.  His reply was “Well, if that’s really what happened, I don’t want to have to charge you the $100 rebooking fee.  Let me talk to my manager.”  And he left the desk and walked down the terminal to find his manager. He returned some time later, with his manager, and they went to the back room where the other manager who had claimed she would be coming back out to help at the desk had disappeared to. Several minutes later the manager he had gone to find emerged and refused to make eye contact me with.  Several more minutes passed before the desk clerk emerged only to tell me that he would have to charge me the $100 rebooking fee and that he couldn’t get me on another flight until the following morning.  I asked if he could at least get me to DC, the next closest airport to home and he said if he did, he would have to charge me the rebooking fee, plus the full flight cost.  I told him I couldn’t pay for all that, and would it be possible to try speaking to his manager myself.  He told me  that they would just tell me exactly what he had but that I was welcome to go take a seat and wait for one of them  to come by.  And then he went to the next passenger.

My eyes were leaking at this point.  I was trying to hold it together, but I was tired and a bit overwhelmed with it all.  I sat there for 15 minutes.  The next 3 people in line were also supposed to be on my flight.  The first one said he had been there since 8pm the night before.  He’d slept at the airport.  He was RIGHT THERE and had no idea how he could’ve missed the flight.  The customer service agent said “Oh, I know you’ve been here all night.  I don’t know how you missed your flight either.”

Neither of the managers came around during this time, so I decided to walk away and see what I could figure out on my own.

I went on the Frontier App.  No flights to Baltimore as expected.  But, LOOK…a flight to DC…in TWO hours…for the $15 GoWild! Pass rate.  No rebooking fee.  No full cost of plane ticket.  No waiting until the next day.  There is no way the customer service agent didn’t have this information.  He had pulled up my account.

I booked that flight and went to go have breakfast.  I ended up sitting next to a passenger I’d spoken to while waiting in line.  She had been stuck in security for just a bit too long and had missed her flight to Florida.  The customer service agent helped her and her partner book another flight to Florida for the next day– for $600.   A separate lady said that she had missed her flight because they changed the gate, but didn’t send a notice to her phone or email.

I went to my gate 45 minutes early, planning on asking the gate agent there to ensure I got on the flight.  The gate agent?  That manager who had refused to make eye contact with me earlier.  She still didn’t want to make eye contact with me.  As departure time kept nearing, the previous flight hadn’t boarded yet.  I checked the Frontier app, my email and my text messages.  It all said I was at this gate.  But, because of all the chaos I’d seen that morning, and thinking of the woman who said her gate had been changed without notice, I approached the gate to double check.  Wouldn’t you know it- They Changed The Gate!!!

This time I made it to the gate (coincidentally the gate my original flight was supposed to depart from) and on the plane.

Once on this flight, everything was peachy.  The flight crew were the best I’ve ever dealt with.  They were all kind, friendly and helpful.

So, to wrap this all up, here’s my take-away from my experiences with Frontier’s GoWild! Summer Pass so far:

Frontier, as a company, does not care about customer service or satisfaction.  They train  their customer service and gate agents to get as much money from customers as possible, no matter what it takes.  Lie, cheat, steal.  If you have a pleasant, helpful and competent interaction with someone who works for Frontier, you can be certain that that person has all those positive attributes because of who they are as a person, not because Frontier requires it of  them.  It may, in fact, be in spite of what Frontier requires of them.

The GoWild! pass is a good deal (if you get it for the $299 deal that I did).  If you have a high desire to travel places with a limited budget, no time constraints, massive flexibility, endless patience and a realistic picture of just how tricky and unpleasant the process can be, you may not regret buying the pass.

I don’t regret buying the pass.  I’ll continue to use it until it expires.  But I can’t imagine purchasing it again.

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