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Frontier ended 2016 with an abysmal on-time average of 62.4%. The carrier ranked dead last among major U.S. airlines. A crippling combination of mismanagement and a worse than forecasted snowstorm left the budget carrier playing catch up for days (SEE: The huge problem flying Frontier).
People were literally stuck at Denver airport for days. Because Frontier has a limited number of flights to many destinations, rescheduling passengers and aircraft was a nightmare. And because putting up large numbers of passengers in a hotel for the duration of their ridiculously long wait would be terrible for Frontier’s bottom line, the airline basically told upset passengers to go pound sand.
Frontier has announced that they will be making changes to operations after December’s debacle. As they should. Measures to improve their operations and on-time performance include:
- Deciding sooner whether to cancel flights
- Adding a way to de-plane passengers near Terminal A if all gates are full (?)
- Investing in a new weather forecasting system
But will these changes really help?
Honestly, I’m not sure how much good a new weather forecasting system will do them. Maybe more people to analyze the forecast so that better operational decisions can be made? The first point (Frontier’s own decision making process) seems like the best place to make improvements.
As for the second point, I really don’t know what their plan could be to be able to de-plane passengers if gates are full. Make people hike through the snow? It was -4°F last time I was at DEN, which was literally at the tail end of Frontier’s December operational meltdown (luckily, I was flying United that weekend). I am rather skeptical of their plan to de-plane people since it will likely be in the worst of weather. On the other hand, I might be ready to open the aircraft door myself and jump into a snowdrift if it means getting off a plane that has been on the tarmac for hours.
Overall, I don’t expect much to change with Frontier. Maybe I’m just being cynical. I *do* hope they make improvements to their operations and are able to put the issues they’ve experienced this winter behind them. As I have written about before, the issue with Frontier’s operations is that they already utilize their aircraft to the maximum possible. Thus, when operations go sideways, they have difficulty shifting resources to compensate.