12 Year Old Kicked Off a Flight for Failing to Pay Unaccompanied Minor Fee

Frontier Airlines is rapidly developing a reputation as worst airline in the United States and that’s no easy feat considering United and David Dao, and Spirit, normally all you have to do is say ‘Spirit’.

But the former has actually promised not to drag passengers down the aisle and bloody them anymore, unless safety or security is at issue, while Spirit has a new CEO who sued to run AirTran and does seem to be trying to improve its operation.

Over the weekend I wrote about 2 passengers kicked off a Frontier flight after complaining to each other about an 8 hour delay.


Copyright: zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

What I missed was the story about a 12 year old kicked off a Frontier flight because the airline let him board without collecting the unaccompanied minor fee.

The boy was flying home to Cleveland from visiting his grandmother in Tampa. He was allowed to board the flight, but removed by the airline when they determined their system showed the unaccompanied minor fee was unpaid.

  • The family thought they paid it “when they bought the round-trip ticket on a third party site.”

  • However Frontier maintains it wasn’t paid in advance in both directions.

Frontier has apologized “for the inconvenience and confusion” the parents encountered. And they made perfect use of the passive voice in declaring “[t]here was a customer service failure during this child’s travel experience with us..”

However the non-apology continues,

At the time Frontier made every effort to contact the parents to notify them of this issue regarding fee collection in the absence of a guardian with the child at the airport. We have coached airport team members and ensured compliance with Frontier policy regarding unaccompanied minor travel.”

In other words,

  • Sure we made a mistake in allowing an unaccompanied minor to check in without payment of the unaccompanied minor fee.
  • And we let the kid board, and his grandmother leave the airport.
  • But we tried to contact his parents, they weren’t available, so what were we supposed to do besides kick the kid off our flight?
  • And something something about complying with our policies, but notice we don’t say that our policies weren’t followed? Or that we even made a mistake in booting the 12 year old from the flight?

Shamful.

(HT: Ryan Boyd)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Grrrr……… If there were only some remedy to hit these airlines back hard (as in financially) — you know, to teach them a lesson, so they get their act together. But alas, no. Thanks for posting.

  2. i don’t even see the issue here they are not a charity. What are they supposed to do? Don’t drop your kid off with the airline without having paid the fee and expect them not to boot them.

  3. @Nick — they accepted the child for travel, the parents believing they had paid the fee and the airline not contradicting that until the child was already on the plane. You think the airline should just kick the kid off the flight after their own process failed?

  4. My comment was somewhat tongue in cheek and, but kicking a 12 year old kid off a plane is not the worst thing in the world, assuming they still have someone watching them – no worse really than kicking any adult off, except maybe a bit more of an inconvenience to the parents. I agree that of course they should have caught it during check-in, but are they supposed to just provide service fee free? Getting payment after the fact is a non-starter. They wouldn’t have provided service to any adult if the ticket wasn’t paid in full.

  5. @Nick – which is why there should be some sort of overriding process to deal with an adverse situation like this. Frontier forgot to collect the fee for a single passenger: chalk it up to an error, pay on their behalf, and create a ticket to figure out why the fee wasn’t collected at a later time. If they correct that on the back-end, it won’t cause any financial hardship in the future.

    Besides, I think Frontier makes plenty with their $100 minor fee “which includes a beverage and a snack.” Sounds like high-margin item to me, so missing it on a single PAX (and avoiding this bad PR) would not be the end of the world.

  6. I’m sure they could have flown the kid and the parents would be happy to pay them within a day or two after letting them know. Give me a break. And if they didn’t pay, is it really worth the negative PR?

  7. Haha, some of these comments are funny. @Gary is right. This is a complete customer service debacle from Frontier’s standpoint. What should Frontier have done? A supervisor with half a brain in their head should have said to themselves, “Well we should have collected the fee, but since we already allowed the minor to board, it would be foolish to de-plane them now.”

    Whoever made this decision on Frontier’s behalf made a big mistake. Why? Even if you fall on the side of the airline that the parents should have known the fee wasn’t paid, and made an attempt to pay it, the potential PR fallout from this episode is FAR greater than the $110 fee.

    Furthermore, as per https://www.flyfrontier.com/travel-information/family-pets/unaccompanied-minor it says:

    This service fee is not included in the ticket cost. It can be paid two ways:
    -Pay in advance when booking your flight at FlyFrontier.com
    -Pay at the airport when the child is checked-in

    Clearly, the airline didn’t collect it at the airport upon check-in. The airline knows the child’s date of birth and if there is anyone else on the itin, and thus whether an unaccompanied minor fee is due. It’s on them to collect it.

    Here’s another example. If you check your bag at the airport and they don’t ask you to pay the required bag fee, but discover the error later, would you be unhappy if they discover it later and remove your bag from the plane? Somehow I think people might feel differently about that.

  8. Check in agents and on board servers don’t have the most exciting jobs nor are they at the pinnacle of intellectual excellence. Give low grade people jobs that require intelligent decision making and this is what happens.

  9. Whenever I have checked in an unaccompanied minor, I was told to wait at the gate until after the plane had taken off.

    I wonder if the grandparent Who accompanied minor to the gate was told this or not?

    If the grandparent was told to wait at the gate until after the plane had taken off, but left during the boarding process, then some of the blame for this is shared.

  10. By doing this Frontier is inviting (additional?) regulatory scrutiny for the transportation of unaccompanied minors. They should, during acceptance of the child, resolve or absolve any liability that is a mistake on their part.

    I also agree that it takes very little mental capability to see that this situation is wrong, especially for the 12 year old.

  11. Child was probably dropped in front of airport because grandma didn’t want to pay to park…saw it happen 100s of times..and also the elderly…shame

  12. I flew Frontier Air a number of times out of PDX, saved points , kept up with the expiry of them and other carriers on AwardWallet. However this airline took a turn for the worse in service, FF points etc. It was one airline FF program that I was kinda glad to see expire off. They also ‘expired’ from any consideration I may have taken in the future to fly them. They don’t exist in my world any longer.

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