Customer Service Opinion

 Southwest crew delights; Frontier flips fliers the bird

Frontier Airlines just closed their phone customer support call center, in essence telling fliers to go elsewhere if they’re not prepared to do everything digitally.

Evidently, Frontier Airlines decided not to take my advice about prioritizing live-person customer support. They just ended it, citing surveys supporting digital-only choices. What they clearly don’t understand or care about is that live phone support can serve as a peace-of-mind backup.

I’m a perfect example. As a loyal Southwest customer, I do most booking and business online. But it’s nice to know a real live human voice interaction (NOT a chat representative/chatbot) can be reached when warranted.

While Southwest’s customer service phone number sometimes requires a lengthy wait, I was delighted to reach a rep almost immediately before flying last week. Perhaps they are making a dedicated effort to improve the customer service experience at the same time Frontier is marginalizing it.

Add to that the most enjoyable flying experience I’ve had since childhood last week. It reinforces that Southwest is a cut above the rest. It started with learning that my nonstop flight to Sarasota, FL had 50 open seats. When I met the flight crew, I knew it was going to be an enjoyable experience—something in too short supply these days.

The Atlanta-based crew of Tammy, Danielle, Thomas, and Chiantai were gracious, caring, and fun! When I found myself in one of the few rows with the middle seat filled, I asked to shift if anything opened up with only an aisle and window seat occupied—hoping to be able to use my computer without going through the usual space-deprived contortions.

Having given up, I was delighted when a team member offered me the back row, which wound up with only one occupant—me! I felt like I was in first class. And, I was so enjoying the flight, I decided not to work on my computer and instead watch “The Christmas Story” on my phone—all while sitting in the middle row and sprawling out!

I have no doubt that this crew faces all the same challenges as others in today’s stress-filled flying environment. But, Tammy Danielle, Thomas, and Chiantai handled it with a level of friendliness, fun, and customer-service dedication I’ve haven’t seen in a long time.

It placed me squarely in my happy bubble, and reminded me there is hope.

Meanwhile, Frontier seems content to burst that bubble.

Notes a CNBC report: “Frontier Airlines gets rid of telephone customer service. Frontier said it stopped offering customer service by phone…The airline said customers can reach out by text or social media channels and WhatsApp…The shift aims to lower labor costs and increase the number of customers it can help at once…Jack Filene, Frontier’s senior vice president of customers, said during the Nov. 15 investor presentation that the change would help lower labor costs and speed up transactions…he said a chat agent could handle three inquiries at once, and possibly more.”

Well, Frontier, proof is in the pudding. While you seem to want to believe that your surveys and feedback support this move, I’m wondering if at some point in the relative near future you will see your way clear to re-institute live phone support—and start supporting customer service instead of a mostly bottom-line protocol.


Mark Lusky Communications helps companies that honor customers, workers, communities, the environment, and stakeholder governance tell their story to the world. Interested? Let’s talk.

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