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As a Life Flight helicopter pilot residing just outside of Joplin, Missouri; my father-in-law knew he would be needed to help airlift critically wounded victims of the recent tornado to nearby medical facilities. What he didn’t know is that according to Frontier Airlines, his duty to save lives isn’t as important as their corporate refund policy.

The day before the tornado hit, my father-in-law was preparing to fly to Utah so he could see his youngest daughter walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma. With his airfare purchased, bags packed and a day to spare, he thought he had planned for everything – that is until Mother Nature came calling. Without hesitation, he raced to work, put on a flight suit and got down to the heroic business of saving lives. After working round the clock shifts he was physically and emotionally spent. Recognizing he’d never make the graduation, he called Frontier Airlines to make arrangements for another flight – the best he could do now would be to give his graduate a belated congratulatory hug.

You can imagine how surprised he was when Frontier Airlines refused to reschedule his flight without charging him $450 for the original ticket and another $450 for the new one. After explaining the reasons why he needed to reschedule his trip, Frontier Airlines offered him all the sympathy of a lion taking down a gazelle as they rattled off their company refund policy.

So, while people and companies around the world are making contributions, providing assistance and praying for the victims, the rescue workers and all those impacted or affected by the tornado – Frontier Airlines is ditching all civility (some might even say patriotism) for a $450 plane ticket. Wow! Even Gordon Gekko would think that’s cold!

While I recognize the personal nature of this example, I believe it speaks to a larger issue. More and more there is a greater recognition that in the realm of homeland security, there are no bystanders. Whether you’re a hot dog vendor in NYC that saves the day by reporting suspicious smoke coming from a parked car or a first-responder running into harms way to help victims following natural events – we each play a part in the protection, detection, response and recovery of the homeland from all hazards. When a person or business abdicates their responsibility for self-interest or corporate greed, we all lose.

We’re in this thing together people. Judging by the tremendous outpour of love, affection and service going out to Joplin, I’d say everyone but Frontier Airlines got the message.

L. Vance Taylor has worked to advance the mission of homeland security on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. One of only approximately 250 people in the nation with a Master’s degree in Homeland Security, Mr. Taylor combines specialized educational training with real-world experience to leverage successful outcomes for clients and stakeholders. Read More
  • Chrisb80203

    While I applaud the heroics of your father in law, I also don’t understand why Americans think that they can buy the cheapest/non-refundable plane ticket and expect an airline to bend over backwards to accommodate everyone. Airlines are in the business to make money, not friends.
    If everyone called in to cancel their tickets with no penalties, the airlines would be out of business. That’s why they sell upgraded, refundable tickets. But everyone wants the cheapest.

  • Swtelston

    I’m sure that Frontier would accomodate, but it would take contacting their corporate office rather than an agent who has no authority to make the decision. I would contact an airlines customer concerns department rather than a reservations agent if I had a request or situation that was out of the ordinary.

  • Jccenergy

    This sounds like a prsonal issue that you are trying to make into a public relations issue over a disagreement you are having with this company. I have done business with Frontier in the past and they have always been fair. When you purchase a service it is your responsibilty to purchase what you need. Frontier does sell 3 types of tickets and one of those allows for changing the ticket or is fully refundable. The additional cost is minimal. If one is in a line of work that one may be called to duty at a moments notice, then one should purchase the ticket that has the most flexibility. Airlines are not non-profit charitable organizations and I’m not sure why our country has started to treat airlines as if they owe the public something more than what was paid for. I would bet that Frontier makes plenty of charitable donations each year and I am also sure that if your situation warrants a refund that Frontier would assist willingly. What is shameful is calling this company un-American and unpatriotic because you believe the company’s policies should not apply to you. Just like the toher comment posted, I would agree that Frontier would most likely be willing to assist, but it would take more than just speaking to one of their front-line employees. I do recommned that your relative begins to travel more resposibly in the future, that he recognizes his need for increased flexibility, and perhaps would consider purchasing a ticket that has less restrictions so that he would not be in a situation that requires that a company to abandon it’s policies in lieu of being called unpatriotic and un-American.

  • Vance Taylor

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post.  You make some good points, but I’m not suggesting that just anyone would be entitled to a refund or an exception to the rule. My point was to emphasize a role for corporate responsibility during homeland security and crisis response situations. A good example would be an airline assisting in transporting first responders to nationally recognized disasters.  I think Frontier could make an appropriate accommodation for such isolated cases without undergoing much hardship.