Frontier Airlines thought it was a good idea to sell passengers a $39 upgrade that would guarantee that they would be sitting next to an empty middle seat as the world continues trying to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic. However, after much criticism, particularly from Democrats in Congress, the airline has decided to ditch its plan.
“We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent. We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle wrote in a letter to members of Congress, according to 9news.
The plan, originally dubbed More Room, was marketed as being “for those who want an empty seat next to them for extra peace of mind or simply additional comfort,” Biffle had said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.
However, the idea was quickly slammed by Democrats, including House Transportation Committee Chair Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who called the idea “callous profiteering.”
“I find it outrageous that an airline sees the imperative for social distancing as an opportunity to make a buck,” DeFazio said in a statement, according to the Post. “Frontier’s decision to charge passengers to keep middle seats empty is capitalizing on fear and passengers’ well-founded concerns for their health and safety.”
“Frontier’s plan to charge customers a fee from $39 to $89 for appropriate space, in addition to the passenger’s ticket and other ancillary fees charged by Frontier, is outrageous given the spread of the coronavirus. The flying public should not be charged extra to stay healthy on flights,” read a letter sent by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Jesús García (D-IL), as well as Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), according to 9news.
Frontier quickly backtracked following the criticism.
“We will rescind the seat price increase associated with the More Room product and revert to our former seat assignment pricing. We will leave the seats blocked that were associated with this product and honor purchases made by all customers,” Biffle continued in his statement.