Frontier bumped us but won't refund the ticket

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Jan 7, 2016
We (my wife and I) arrived at the Cleveland airport at 5:30AM for a 7:25AM flight to Orlando, Frontier 1161, on November 25, 2015, the day before Thanksgiving. When we checked in at the ticket counter we were informed that the flight would be delayed until 8:30AM. When we arrived at the gate, the departure time was posted as 11:00AM and was soon changed to 12:40PM. About 8:00AM we were called to the counter along with a few other people. We were told that there was a mechanical problem with the scheduled aircraft and that a different aircraft was being sent to Cleveland. The replacement aircraft was smaller and, therefore, this small group of people was being bumped from the flight.
We were offered two choices, one being that Frontier would transfer us to one of two Delta flights that would also leave at 12:40PM making connections through either Detroit or Atlanta. Either of these connections would put us in Orlando around 5:00PM. The second choice offered was cancel the first leg of our trip on Frontier and book our own flight to Orlando, with the suggestion of a Spirit Airlines flight at 2:38P, arriving in Orlando at 5:04PM. The Spirit option meant that we would need to go out through security to re-claim our bags from Frontier, then check in with Spirit and come back through security. Since both options would put us in Orlando at about 5PM, we opted for the Delta flights at 12:40PM. The agent told us to wait until they made the arrangements with Delta so that we would know whether we would be making the connection in Detroit or Atlanta.
About 11:30AM we were called to the counter and given a Delta flight number that we would be booked on. This flight turned out to be a flight to Detroit at about 5:30PM rather than the promised 12:40PM flight. The gate attendant expressed some doubt as to whether we would be able to make a connection in Detroit that would get us to Orlando yet that day. At that point we told the agent that we wished to cancel our outbound leg on Frontier 1161 and that we would not take the offered late flight on Delta but would make our own arrangements. We verified that canceling flight #1161 would not cancel our return flight on Frontier 1164. The agent told us that she would add this information to our reservation record. She gave us information for obtaining our refund from Frontier for the cancelled flight #1161. We then booked a flight on Spirit Airlines and got to Orlando around 5:00PM on the 25th.
When we requested the refund for the two tickets on flight #1161, the first response from Frontier was that the flight had not been cancelled but only delayed so no refund would be made. When we protested that we had been bumped from the flight, Frontier then claimed that we had accepted the Delta alternative, therefore no refund would be made. We never accepted a 5:30 Delta flight. We had only agreed to the 12:40PM Delta flight. When Frontier failed to follow through on that option we chose the option of cancelling flight #1161 and making our own arrangements.
They fed us lies all day, were going to leave us stranded in Detroit and now refuse to refund the cost of the ticket. How do we get them to pay up?

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
We have a list of company contacts on the top of the page. Rewrite your letter with facts only in a bulleted format making it as short as possible and stating you want a refund. Make sure conformation numbers are included and if you have the agents name, add that.

Write to Customer Service. Give them a week to reply. If they don't or don't provide a refund, write to the first executive. Give him/her a week to reply. If they don't, repeat with the next executive. Repeat weekly all the way up the chain if you have to.

Let us know the results.
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Reactions: jsn55
Mar 4, 2015
You have every right to be angry. IMO you deserve more than just a refund, but sadly this scenario ("airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use") is an exception to the denied boarding compensation requirements.

Stay off the phone and email our Frontier Company Contacts, one at a time, starting with the lowest level contact you haven't already corresponded with. Allow them a week to respond before appealing to the next contact if necessary.

Make it clear that you rejected the Delta option and that you have receipts and boarding passes to prove that you paid for alternate transportation on Spirit yourself. And you expect Frontier to honor its obligations, described in their Customer Service Plan, to refund you "within seven business days of receiving the completed refund request."

If you don't get full satisfaction, circle back to Chris and let him know and see if he can help.

Beyond that, the next step if necessary would be to lodge a complaint with the US Dept of Transportation.

Good luck and let us know what happens.
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Reactions: jsn55 and krisseye


Jan 6, 2015
the United States
Frontier's Contract of Carriage, Section 18, Paragraph C says:

Frontier will have no obligation to provide transportation on another carrier. If Frontier cannot provide the foregoing transportation, Frontier shall, if requested, provide a refund for the unused portion of the passenger's ticket in lieu of the transportation under the foregoing.
That would seem to support what @Neil and @Michael K have recommended.


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
KenV, good advice here from everyone. I would add that your letter should be very polite and concise, a bullet-point list might be just right. The person reading it is bombarded with complaints. Be very clear about the Delta flight choice that you "accepted" but didn't get, and that the later flight was not acceptable. You want the reader to grasp the whole situation with one pass and route your letter to the proper department. Based on the day you were travelling, I am astonished that you made Orlando about the time you thought you would ... this rarely happens! Frontier may try to stonewall you on the refund, but don't give up. Please let us know the outcome.
  • Like
Reactions: VoR61
Jan 5, 2015
Tweet to them @FrontierCare
Companies hate being tweeted to...because it's public and can be shared. Oops! And this is definitely a case of Frontier screwing the pooch and looking completely incompetent.