Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Lawsuit Alleges Frontier Airlines Misleads Customers With Baggage Fees

Baggage fees are not the only complaint in this lawsuit.

A class-action lawsuit alleges that Frontier Airlines misleads customers with baggage fees and other “fraudulent and unwarranted charges” to appear as though it truly is an ultra-low-cost airline and that the airline engages in deceptive tactics to extract more money from its passengers.

Lawsuit Alleges Frontier Airlines Misleads Customers With Baggage Fees

Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Traveling with a bag that purportedly failed to fit inside the device which checks the dimensions of a bag at the check-in counter in Orlando International Airport, Amira Hamad was subsequently asked by an employee of Frontier Airlines to pay an additional $100.00 to check the bag. Hamad claims that the bag in question was within the dimension limits and weight limits that were published on the official Internet web site of Frontier Airlines but the device at that counter was purposely smaller.

In the class-action lawsuit which she filed, Hamad is currently seeking a total of $100,010,100.00:

Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

As Case number 6:23-cv-01209 of the Orlando Division of the Middle District of Florida of the District Court of the United States, the allegation by Amira Hamad regarding Frontier Airlines, Incorporated, a Colorado Corporation, is as follows:

“FRONTIER is not a budget airline. FRONTIER does not have the lowest airfares. FRONTIER just breaks its fees into tiny little pieces and checkpoints to water down the appearance of what is actually an average airfare when combined and compared to the industry. Plaintiff brings this action, inter alia, to address misrepresentations and omissions committed by Defendant FRONTIER in connection with Defendant’s business operations. FRONTIER falsely misled the Plaintiff and numerous other consumers, and continues to mislead consumers, into believing that they are purchasing low airfare, when, in fact, FRONTIER makes up whatever discount it purports to give consumers in fraudulent and unwarranted charges. In some instances, a carry-on piece of luggage costs as much as four (4) times the cost of a checked bag. FRONTIER’s bait-and-switch and “gotcha” tactics are designed to confuse, trick, and trap consumers to the public’s detriment. As an example of this blatant arrogance, FRONTIER purports to allow one (1) “personal item” onboard “free” if it is no more than 14 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and 8 inches deep, but uses a measuring instrument at its gates that is drastically smaller than those dimensions, and charges consumers excessive fees to check items that do not fit inside the skewed bag sizer, even when the items are, undoubtedly, not in excess of those “personal item” dimensions that it advertises. FRONTIER even incentivizes its gatekeepers by providing them bonuses for each “personal item” that they charge at the gates. The actions and omissions of the Defendant constitute fraud, violate the Florida’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Consumer Protections Act, and are in material breach of the understandings between FRONTIER and the Plaintiff and similarly situated consumers.”

This case was first filed on Thursday, June 29, 2023; but interestingly, the deadline for Frontier Airlines, Incorporated to respond to the complaint was extended to include Monday, October 23, 2023. The deadline for the parties to file their case management report was extended to Friday, November 24, 2023.

Final Boarding Call

Frontier Airlines
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

Although my personal experiences as a passenger with Frontier Airlines is limited, I have never had my baggage measured because I usually paid for one carry-on bag or had been upgraded to elite level status — of which an elite status match is currently active — but I have witnessed other passengers having the dimensions of their baggage strictly measured by employees of the airline.

Many people were pulled to the side and forced to pay for a carry-on bag — even if a mere strap suddenly fell out of place and suddenly “changed” the dimensions of the bag. At that point, those customers might have actually saved money if they booked their tickets with a legacy carrier.

Some passengers do routinely flout or ignore the rules and policies set forth by airlines and should pay if they are caught — but I would suspect that in many cases, the actual dimensions of each of the bags may be only slightly larger than what is stated by the airline. As law enforcement officers usually give up to nine miles per hour leeway to drivers who speed on roadways in motor vehicles, so should Frontier Airlines not nickel-and-dime their customers on such minutia, as that is usually no more than a “money grab”. If a passenger shows up with a bag that is significantly larger than what is allowed, then they should pay for that bag.

If Frontier Airlines advertised one set of the absolute minimum measurements allowed but significantly reduced those measurements at the time of boarding or checking in for the flight, that is clearly deceptive to me; and Frontier Airlines should therefore be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Customers do not deserve to be purposely deceived by companies with whom they conduct business.

All photographs ©2021 and ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I have flown Frontier several times in the last couple of years. I have always paid for a carry-on – or was allowed a free one due to status.

    If I am proactively paying for my carry-on, I fully expect those traveling with only a free personal item to have their bags stringently measured. No allowance should be given to those who want to cheat the system, even a little bit. The Frontier website is very upfront that personal items will be measured and that it is less expensive to pay for your bag at the time of purchase than at the gate.

    Unless there is conclusive evidence that the baggage measuring device is inaccurate, this is just another frivolous lawsuit by someone who thinks rules do not apply to them.

    1. I understand your sentiment but even a cursory search would reveal this woman is not even close to the first person to experience this. If this is the same story I’m thinking if she even measured the bag dimension devices outside and inside security and the one inside was smaller!

  2. Spirit actually added a half inch or so to its sizer boxes the last time they were re-designed because a common issue was a wheel or handle making it barely not fit, and so many customers were doing things like snapping the handles off their bags. Generally Spirit allows the bag if you can make it fit in the sizer box.. doesn’t have to flow freely in and out like Frontier’s seeming standard. If you’re gonna go through the effort of having your kid stand on it to make it fit, then you can take it as far as Spirit seems to be concerned.

    I’ve flown Spirit a lot this year (made Gold the hard way). It really isn’t all that much different than flying American (as an elite with NK, that is). They’ve been on time and been cooperative with rebooking when need be (especially in a schedule change – Frontier not so much even when a schedule change has me literally flying both directions at the same moment, but only one segment changed so they won’t change both).

    The commission/reward given to Frontier contract agents for enforcing the bag fees really has taken this too far. Spirit once upon a time did this (up to $300 a month they could earn, provided the station hit its on time targets) but did away with it, saying this is their job anyway and raised the pay rate about a buck an hour.

    Allegiant has taken to putting a tag on carry-ons that are paid at time of check in. Speaking with one of their contract managers in Nashville the other day, she said that basically if there is going to be a charge, they’d rather do it at the counter or in advance than police as much while boarding – coming down to door close time and telling someone pay up in the next 60 seconds or you don’t go invites a lot more conflict.

  3. Same exact thing happened to me in Orlando. I was on the last leg of my vacation to cancun, my few bag was the same exact bag I took going from Vegas to Orlando to cancun and had no issue in cancun on the return, and yet at Orland, all the suddenly it didn’t fit and it was too big and I had to pay 100, couldn’t do it online since i was already on my flight last leg return to Vegas and was forced to pay 100 or they wouldn’t let me in the plane. I had 50k elite membership and still had to pay. The gate agent charged 75 passengers the extra 100 fee. Even a handicap woman was forced to pay for the medical bag and 50 people clearly saw it fit in the bag dimension box. So it’s a complete scam. In want in to this law suit. I have videos of frontier agents saying to each other how much bonus they will get by charging people. I know for a fact mine fit, since it was on 4 flights before returning to Orlando and no way that all the suddenly the bag just “didn’t fit. “

    1. It does sound like the agent was taking advantage. But a couple of points:
      -Medical bag: only waived if it really is just medical device or supplies. Like a CPAP and some pill bottles. But put a change of clothes in there and it’s a regular ol carry-on. ACAA and DOT agree with that. Same category of my bag isn’t a medical bag because I’ve got my prescriptions in my dop kit.

      -If you already had an included carry-on, and this was the second item it would presumably be your personal item so yes would be a charge if it didn’t fit. If this was only item you had, as an Elite 50K which would include a free carry-on , then agreed you shouldn’t be charged. But as a 50K myself I always 100% of the time add the $0 carry-on to my reservation regardless of what I am carrying. Just makes it easier. Not sure if Frontier has some rule that agents can’t add the free elite bag (that could be rife for abuse because I don’t think Airport agents Can look up FrontierMiles accounts, or agents could comp a bag, pocket the cash) so it can only be added online but wouldn’t shock me.

      -I have it on first hand authority that Frontier has terminated a number of contract agents and supervisors (well they are all contract) because at the gate they are accepting cash and then sliding their own mileage earning credit card to pay for the bag (presumably when a passenger doesn’t have a card. The cash to card machines aren’t typically inside security… ReadyCredit needs about 10 transactions daily per machine to break even).

  4. Me and my family were on a flight coming back home to California from St. Louis and frontier made my little sister and my son a leave their baggage when we got on the first plane they were fine with their bags but when we got to board our second plane, they told my son that his bag was not suitable which had his game system and all his video games and then when I took the game system out of the bag they told us we couldn’t take it on the plane so there goes a $500 game system and all of the clothes that my little sister and I had

  5. I recently flew with Frontier Airlines..I thought second time around would prove me wrong..I thought the price was low for my ticket,and it was an emergency trip on short time notice..
    I was already aware of the luggage fee…but when I checked in,I asked for a paper boarding pass..I was told it would be 25.00..needless to say I did not purchase one..
    At 75 I feel more comfortable in having a paper boarding pass in my hand,than having to navigate thru my phone…it was disappointing.

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