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The Great Frontier Airlines Twitter Boycott Campaign – 4 year old’s Surprise Disney Birthday Present Ruined

Posted on May 26, 2010
Filed Under Family | 11 Comments

UPDATE: @flyfrontier responds to hundreds of tweets in support of my complaint by – lyng to each tweetr and saying they responded to me today to address my concerns. This has now become a story worthy of chapter in a book, similar to the Dell story recounted in “What would Google Do” by Jeff Jarvis. Here they make matters worse by silently DM each tweeter “Our Customer Relations team has reviewed this matter and responded to Mr. Mendoza.” Making statements divorced from the truth is bad for your brand. Or fantastic for a Social Media Awakening against your company.

Thank You for spreading the word on Twitter with tweets like “@davemendoza Twitter Boycott @flyfrontier #flyfrontier Campaign–4 year old’s Surprise Disney Birthday Present Ruined, http://bit.ly/9oEWJt” OR tweets like #flyfrontier, shame mistreating @davemendoza & my family! Ruining 4 yr old’s birthday! Make sure you add @flyfrontier & #flyfrontier so that their company gets to see the ping back!

My family planned for months to enjoy the ultimate memory – the expression on the face of my soon to be 4 year old daughter’s face when we walked up to the front gate of Disneyland. It wasn’t easy but we managed to use the code word “The Mouse” for three months that is … until Frontier Airlines forced us to tell her.

Here are the facts of the most despicable customer service and flight experience my family and myself ever experienced.

We called the general customer service number first, then a supervisor, then spoke to complaints, Ryan
Ford at 3pm MST. (he can be reached at 720-374-4200 press option 2) Each of my attempts to communicate to management have fallen to deaf ears and the so-called ‘investigation of facts’ by Ryan Ford is humorous if it wasn’t based on such an outrageous reconstruction of events divorced from the truth.

RE: Flight 260
may 13th, 2010, Thursday at 1:05 pm
Denver, CO to Orange County Airport, California
file number: 375117
Airline Record Locator (PNR): BXYVOI

THE STORY


I fly Frontier or United every two weeks as a consultant from Denver. I fly Frontier often, in fact consistently over the past 5 years since we moved to Denver

For the first time ever as luck would have it, my family is put on standby because the airline sold more seats then were available. We were given tickets to board with rows separate from each family member, obviously that would not due given we had a 4 year old.

The front desk at the gate was very hospitable, particularly a brunette female who followed the entire situation and was the only sympathetic ear to the disastrous events that followed. I do not recall her name.

Upon boarding the flight attendant, Cynda, was inattentive from the onset and seemed more inconvenienced than we were at waiting for seats to open that could accommodate our three family members.

I sat temporarily next to my wife I think on the second row while my 4 year old daughter, Siena Blue, sat on her lap. The man sitting near the window seat was bald, about late 40’s to early 50s in age.

My daughter has never had flight fear but upon crossing the threshold of the plane she started to cry. This is a common experience on my own flights and nothing louder or unusual about her cry compared to other children on board. The man completely over reacted immediately covering his ears and cursing, “this is bullshit” and said he wanted to sit on another row. I welcomed it and told him that her reaction was normal for her age – and in fact had he not made a commotion she was about to be calm within 5 minutes before the flight started.

The man responded immediately with an insult “Not the way I raised my children”

I told the man that he may want to follow through with his instincts if it bothered him so much and take another row. He replied “Why don’t you go back to where you came from, suggesting he thought I was Mexican (I’m a Spaniard and my wife is from Finland). I was appalled.

The man then said explicitly he intended to hit me in the face when we boarded off the plane.

I then said he did us all a favor saying that, and that I intended to report it. At that moment he immediately clicked the button for the flight attendant and instead reported that I threatened him, which witnesses in other rows I am sure would attest was an outright lie.

The flight attendant, “Cynda (sp?), came and immediately asked our family to leave the plane without once asking what happened neither to us nor the actual instigator.

I was shocked and tried to explain what happened and she said it didn’t interest her.

My wife, my four year old and I were forced to stand by the plan door, the three of us, as people boarded and stared at us, completely humiliated. Looking at my little girl now doubly upset asking
“Daddy why are we in trouble?” Was I bad? Why are these people mad at me?”

Looking at the tears on her face and my wife’s red eyes – I was instantaneously stirred by feelings of both tragic sorrow, indignation – and heart pounding rage.

The front desk person at the gate came up and she asked what happened and we told her and she wondered why the man was not at least likewise asked to leave the plane. That was our point from the onset. A blonde woman, I think they call her a GSE, came up and was hostile but at least heard my account but then went to the flight attendant and asked what happened. Of course, this seemed bizarre as I explained to her that the flight attendant would have no idea nor credibility since she never asked us nor the man what happened.

We stood there I estimate 15 to 20 minutes in front of the door and my daughter was terrified and we had to calm her down because of it and ruin the surprise that we were taking her to Disney for her birthday. It infuriated me that we had to explain it to her in this way within such a hostile environment

I was upset more than anything that no one bothered to ask the man nor that he suffered any inconvenience as we had and sat comfortably in his chair alone while we were stared at by passengers.

I told the GSE I wanted to press charges and she said If I did that we would surely miss our flight and the birthday party that night at her Godfather’s home that evening.

We then were allowed to board at the last minute and made to sit in back while our carry on was in the front were that man was.

No one ever apologized to us. The Flight Attendant refused to give us her name when I directly asked her upon reboarding the plane and I could not see her name tag. It took a fellow flight attendant who was kind, to tell us that the flight attendant in question was named Cynda. (I am guessing on the spelling).


We wanted to report and file a complaint immediately upon landing however we did not know where to do so at Orange County Airport, CA. When we returned near midnight on Sunday the offices all seemed closed. I called immediately on Monday and spoke to two low level people by phone and neither could help or offer anything. I then called Tuesday. No one contacted us four business days after ….

Now thirteen days later that is until Twitter became involved that I assume Frontier Airlines would take notice. It’s become a viral campaign. It makes a dad smile.

There are so many wrongs in this story about how not to treat passengers that it would be compelling.

Here is the best part … yesterday I received a call from Frontierbafter my 6x or 7x calls In personally initiated. I was told that their ‘investigation’ finds that that ‘we were never asked to leave the plane, they – were doing us a favor by removing us from the hostility and trying to find us a seat. Here are the facts as my family experienced them:

1) We were not once told they were doing other than removing us from the plane and we and not the offender were made to stand by the plane door.
2) If in fact they were trying to accommodate us – they would have left us in the mess hall area of the cabin
3) The attendant was hostile and never allowed me to tell our story which ensures that their attempt to help us keep away from the offender is contradicted when she cut me off each time to try to ask why and to tell her what happened first hand.

When Ryan Ford, The Frontier Airlines Customer Service Representative called, he had the nerve to be surprised I was unhappy, in fact, he did that classic maneuver that elevates one’s blood pressure – putting me on hold until I calmed down – for five minutes, until I finally hanged up the phone. Why pre tal would anyone be less angry when they put you on hold as if the onus is on you the customer not to be upset?

To add insult to injury @flyfrontier sent a direct message via twitter “flyfrontier: Can I offer you a $50 voucher for each passenger?”

My family’s humiliation and the loss of a child’s innocence is worth a $50 voucher? Really.

We invite the readers of this blog to consider the events as described. If you have had bad experiences with Frontier Airlines, or if you find the events as stated objectionable – the most effective way to communicate your dissatisfaction is to inform them via your Twitter posts.

As members of the staffing industry we all talk abut Candidate Experience and engagement. If we don’t call attention to everyday stories of customer service we lose a valuable bench mark of how to attract, rather … we repel. If you care RT “@davemendoza Great @flyfrontier Twitter Boycott Campaign – 4 year old’s Surprise Disney Birthday Present Ruined, http://bit.ly/9oEWJt

How to you directly let Frontier Airlines know they failed you and your friends? Easy. Frontier has an agressive campaign monitoring Twitter references about their company. I know this first hand. @flyfrontier and #flyfrontier

REMINDS ME OF HOW ONE UNHAPPY UNITED CUSTOMER DEALT WITH HIS EXPERIENCE – GO SOCIAL!

Comments

11 Responses to “The Great Frontier Airlines Twitter Boycott Campaign – 4 year old’s Surprise Disney Birthday Present Ruined”

  1. Teresa R. Bustamante, PHR on May 26th, 2010 12:31 pm

    The true victim is Sienna Blue. Just the very beginning of her loss of innocence. That part is most awful. I’m sorry, Dave.

  2. Andy Loyd on May 26th, 2010 12:54 pm

    Dave
    I was appalled when I read this – thanks for your willingness to shine a bright spot light on a horrible customer experience. Frontier will pay for this in lost passenger revenue.
    Andy Loyd

  3. Alex Putman on May 26th, 2010 1:28 pm

    Dave,

    As a father of a 4 year old daughter myself, my heart goes out to your little girl. I will def tweet and get this out! Sorry for the experience, but hope the time at Disney made up for it.

  4. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on May 26th, 2010 2:36 pm

    Wow. What an absolutely horrendous thing to endure!! Lots of empathy to your family and child – I hope word of this spreads far and wide. And as a parent, I know you’ll make your daughter’s birdieDay absolutely magnificent….she’s lucky to have a dad like you.

  5. Steven Rothberg CollegeRecruiter.com on May 26th, 2010 3:28 pm

    What Frontier and the bald passenger did to you and your family was inexcusable. Yet another reason why racial profiling can do more harm than good.

  6. Colleen Aylward on May 26th, 2010 5:01 pm

    Dave, this is terrible. My thought is that you might get some results from HR at Republic Airways (Kathy Wooldridge
    Vice President, Human Resources) if you tell them about the obvious profiling, rudeness, and post-event duplicity. This is a PERFECT case for social media outcry en masse.

    I might also send a note to the board at Republic Airways:
    Bryan K. Bedford
    Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
    Lawrence J. Cohen
    Director
    Neal S. Cohen
    Director
    Douglas J. Lambert
    Director
    Mark L. Plaumann
    Director
    Richard P. Schifter
    Director
    David N. Siegel
    Director

    AND Jerry Balsano
    Vice President of Customer Service

  7. HR’s Leaky Bucket | Blogging4Jobs on May 26th, 2010 5:19 pm

    […] a hasty decision to remove Dave and his family from a flight.  Dave who recounts his experience here, has taken to the social media and blogosphere to seek redemption.  For his ordeal, Dave was […]

  8. Brian Kevin Johnston on May 27th, 2010 12:42 pm

    Dave- Keep us (Your Followers/Fans) Posted… We got your back… I trust frontier will take the high road on this situation… They are going realize really soon how many friends you have (and voices)… Trust that There is a blessing in disguise…

    Best, Brian-

  9. Tricia Mom of 4 on May 29th, 2010 12:24 pm

    IN reading your full story I can understand how horrible you must of felt. I’m sorry you and your family had to endure that. But as I read through to the bottom I realized why Frontier did what they did. If this crazed lunatic was already obviously disturbed by threatening you and your daughter was crying (everyone heard). You should of immediately without saying a word rang that buzzer the second he threatened you.
    However, since it transpired by the flight attendant removing you without listening in front of that Nutso she maybe saved you from an even bigger HURT if that man went ballistic and started screaming in front of your child. This man could of hurt you and your baby girl. (filing charges could not of fixed that! her little eyes would of saw everything)

    I think it was wrong for them not to let you know as soon as you stepped off the plane that they were going to put you back on just to give them a few minutes so they can work better seating. I agree with that. That is where they went wrong. Shame on that CYNDA! TO lead you to believe you were not getting back on soon. (I’ve been takin off a plain before and the people who are looking at you are just wondering what happen they weren’t thinking bad of you. Hugs! They were probably hoping not to sit next to that nutso on the plane, too)

    If you really think about it your realize what was important in the end is the actual time you spent at Disney with your family and your daughters birthday. Your only aggravating your self by letting that JERK and this whole situation get to you. He wins over and over again the more you let this bother you. Take a Deep breathe then take another and move on. Blessings may all your future flights be good one’s and NOT ON FRONTIER> I don’t fly them so no worries for me.

  10. Stephen Lowisz on June 5th, 2010 10:29 am

    Dave,

    I accidently ran across your tweets on this situation and as I read I was appalled! Frontier likes to talk about the customer experience and it’s importance but it’s obvious they don’t practice what they preach. The attendant was obviously more worried about herself then a paying customer.

    Frontier should be ashamed of the incident, and as important, the way they have lied to tweeters. My guess is that they figured it would be swept under the rug – image their surprise to your Twitter campaign.

    The realities of poor customer service continue to cone to light with the greater use of tools like Twitter. Frontier and their obviously poor customer service leadership should beware!

  11. Sherene Robinson on July 13th, 2010 5:16 pm

    Dave,
    On 7/12/2010 a similar situation happened to me. Ironically I have a 4 year old boy. The seats assigned put my son in the middle between two strangers and as your experience detailed…I could have written your blog with the exception, I had some really nice people sitting around us that sympathized with us about the seating. I have blogged, posted on my facebook page and will tell everyone I know to boycott this airline.

    Your story is much more horendous then mine…although they did threaten to call the police on me (in front of my son no less)…I’ll pay much higher fares anytime to avoid Frontier…do they have something against 4 year olds…??

    Sherene Robinson
    Phoenix, Arizona