Q: I booked flights on Frontier Airlines through the website Hopper from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach, Fla., to spend Christmas with my sister. My sister died in November, so there was no reason to go to Florida.
Hopper gave me a full refund of the flight cost. But Frontier won't give me a full refund of the bundle package for the seat assignments and bags. After explaining the situation to a Frontier agent, he told me to take the flight credit and submit documentation (death certificate) for review to get a full refund.
I did all this, and they refused my request for a refund. Can you help?
A: I'm so sorry to hear about your sister. You shouldn't have to worry about chasing down a refund on your airline ticket at a time like this.
Although your Frontier ticket was nonrefundable, airlines make exceptions to their rules when there's a death in the family. So Frontier should have reviewed your case and at least considered a refund for your ticket and the seat assignment and baggage bundle you purchased.
Your case is a reminder that airline fees for advance boarding, luggage and seat assignments generally aren't refundable. Sometimes, even when you can get your ticket refunded, you can't get the fees back. I've seen a few of those cases. So be extra careful when you pay airline fees. They can be a one-way ticket.
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe your airline ticket should include a confirmed seat assignment and luggage in the price you pay. Charging extra for these basic amenities and making the fees nonrefundable, which is fast becoming an airline industry standard, isn't customer-friendly. But it is certainly profitable.
I think you might have had more luck by appealing your case to someone higher up at Frontier. A supervisor could have looked at your situation and authorized a refund. I list the names, numbers and e-mail addresses for Frontier's executives on my consumer advocacy site at elliott.org/company-contacts/frontier-airlines.
Even though Frontier didn't have to refund your fees, I thought they might want to take another look at your case. They did — and you got your money back.