The ultra-low-cost Denver-based airline Frontier has added a mandatory “Covid recovery charge” to all of its tickets that it claims is needed to pay for extra pandemic-era cleaning, as well as plastic spray shields at ticket counters and personal protective equipment like face masks for its employees.
The surcharge is on top of a slew of other fees Frontier already charges such as a telephone service fee for passengers who want to book a ticket over the phone, to a high-cost airport charge that is designed to offset operating costs in more popular airports where landing fees are higher.
But while Frontier isn’t the only airline to have thought up some pretty inventive charges, it’s believed to be the first carrier to have introduced a specific charge to cover the additional costs associated with the pandemic.
The airline describes the charge as follows: “The Covid Recovery Charge offsets added costs to Frontier due to implementing Covid-19 related measures, such as increased sanitation and cleaning onboard the aircraft and in the airport, shields at the ticket counters and gate areas, and personal protective equipment for employees.”
Frontier has added the charge despite benefiting from $225 million in a taxpayer-funded payroll support program and a better than expected rebound in travel demand.
At the height of the pandemic, airlines threw money at cleaning initiatives with big name brands that included electrostatic cabin spraying, UV light sanitation and special antimicrobial chemical coatings in an attempt to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay.
But with mass vaccination and a better understanding of how the virus actually spread, many airlines are now rolling back some of these initiatives to a level that is more cost-effective
Last May, Frontier was accused of “capitalizing on fear” with plans to charge between $39 and $89 to block a middle seat for social distancing purposes. After a fierce backlash, the airline scrapped the idea and instead continued to sell its flights to capacity.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.