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Couple says they're out nearly $1K after airline left them stranded in Fort Myers

A West Michigan couple says Frontier Airlines messed up big time by telling them to check in at the airport for a flight that had already been cancelled.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Many people like to escape West Michigan during the colder months and spend time in warmer climates. That’s exactly what Chip and Carol Hackney of Fruitport did recently, as they enjoyed a vacation in Fort Myers, FL.

“The trip was great,” Chip said. “The weather was nice there. We stayed with a friend. She had a nice swimming pool attached to her house, and so we went out and sat by the pool each day. We got to see the Fort Myers area. We got to see a basketball game in Fort Myers. It was very pleasant. Everything went off without a hitch, until we hit the airport to go home.”

The flight they thought they had back to Grand Rapids wasn’t there.

“We went over and looked on one of the one of those big signs that tells you departures and arrivals, and there's no flight on there for the time that we're supposed to be flying out,” Chip said.

The Hackneys were flying with Frontier Airlines, or so they thought. Their roundtrip tickets were purchased on Oct. 7, and a flight confirmation was emailed out that same day. Three weeks later, the Hackneys received an email from Frontier Airlines that there were changes to the flight schedule. Chip said he thought it only affected the outgoing flight.

Credit: WZZM

“Once they had informed us of the flight change on the way down there, we looked at our options with them. There weren't any that would work, so we opted to take the refund for the trip down there,” he said. “But we hung on to the return flight, because there was no indication of any changes to that flight.”

So, the Hackneys booked a one-way flight, flew to Fort Myers on Dec. 8 and enjoyed their vacation, which brings us back to their departure, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11.

“I had received I think five emails on that Sunday that were confirmation emails of our flight,” Chip said. “When I opened the email, it had the flight number, it had the departure time of 8:53 p.m. and had the passengers all listed.”

Credit: WZZM

He said he also received a text message, prompting him to go ahead and check in, but the link didn’t actually work.

“It just kind of went through the process, and then it wouldn't confirm my check in,” Chip said. “So I figured, you know, we're just going to have to do it when we get to the airport.”

Little did they know, their flight had been cancelled. To make matters worse, Chip said the Frontier Airlines desk was empty.

“I was just baffled,” he said. “The fact that they had just texted us at 6 o'clock, and said ‘check in for your flight.’ We just couldn't understand what possibly could have happened.”

Credit: WZZM

All of a sudden, they were stranded in Fort Myers.

“It was some time after 9 o'clock, and here we sit in the airport with our luggage, and we don't have a rental car anymore, and we don't have any accommodations arranged for the night. So, we ended up getting a hotel. We had to find one that had a shuttle from the airport. We went to the hotel and looked up and found a flight on another airline,” Chip said. “The stress of all of it was just incredible.”

The Hackneys said the last-minute one-way flights and hotel accommodations cost them a little more than $930, which they had not budgeted for.

“We're a retired couple, you know, on a fixed income,” Chip said. “When we planned this trip, we budgeted out. We knew we were going to have to pay a certain amount for accommodations, a certain amount for flights and stuff. Then, between 5 o'clock that Sunday evening when we got to the airport, to the next morning, it cost us an extra $930, because of the hotel and having to find a flight.”

Credit: WZZM

He said Frontier Airlines refunded the money for that cancelled flight, and offered $25 vouchers, but the Hackneys said they should be reimbursed for all of it, especially since Frontier Airlines sent an email and text saying ‘check in now’ for a flight that didn’t exist.

“Obviously, they've got a real issue with information and communication,” Chip said. “I won't ever book with Frontier, moving forward.”

The 13 ON YOUR SIDE Help Team reached out to Frontier Airlines about this, and they quickly responded, saying they would be happy to review the expenses for reimbursement consideration. On Jan. 30, a customer advocate for Frontier Airlines emailed Chip stating in part, "I have requested check reimbursement in the amount of $940.99. Processing takes approximately 3-5 weeks and is mailed."

13 ON YOUR SIDE will bring you updates on-air and online with any developments in this story.

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