Frontier’s New CEO Has a Complicated Past With Frequent Flyers

Barry Biffle, as Vice President of Marketing at Spirit Airlines, brought us some of the most juvenile ads in the history of aviation (and that includes from Russian and Vietnamese airlines).

Like Spirit’s invitation to check out the (suntan) oil on their beaches during the Gulf oil spill.

Or the Anthony Weiner and Carlos Danger sales… the More Bang for Your Buck fare sale to Cartagena during the Secret Service prostitution scandal. And of course that all time great MILF Sale (“Many Islands, Low Fares”).

Biffle is part of a tangled web of people in the airline business.

  • Bill Franke was Chairman and CEO of America West before Doug Parker took over just prior to 9/11. His Indigo Partners bought Spirit in 2006 and turned it into the low cost carrier that it is today as its board chairman. They bought Frontier in the fall of 2013 and he sold his stake in Spirit.

  • Dave Siegel, who had been Chairman of Avis and then President of US Airways before Doug Parker’s America West took it over, was CEO of Frontier and stayed on after the Indigo Partners acquisition. Eighteen months later Siegel was out and Biffle was elevated.

  • Barry Biffle was Managing Director of Marketing at US Airways back in 2004 under Ben Baldanza, who became CEO of Spirit and made him Vice President of Marketing. He left Spirit to become CEO of VivaColombia (for about 10 months) before becoming President of Frontier under David Siegel as CEO (Siegel had been CEO of US Airways when Biffle was there).

I met Biffle years ago at a hotel bar near US Airways headquarters in Crystal City after he, Baldanza, and John Reistrup participated in a chat on Flyertalk.

He shared at the time that US Airways members were redeeming on Star partners at about the rate Star partners were redeeming for travel on US Airways; what would happen to tickets in the event the airline liquidated; that Pittsburgh customers would continue to have the best non-stop flying options with US Airways; and how they were thinking about Caribbean expansion.

Now he’s been formally elevated to the role of President and CEO of the airline. Congratulations!

Frequent flyers, though, will rue the moves by the airline over the past couple of years to eliminate free checked bags, advance seat assignments for extra legroom seating, complimentary beverages, and bonus miles for elites.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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