Frontier Airlines Is Ditching Its Phone Support

It's now the largest carrier in the country not to offer phone support

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Budget-friendly airlines are known for various cost-cutting and penny-pinching methods we're all familiar with: charges for seat selection or paying for carry-on bags over a specific size, but here's a new one. In the race to cut costs, Frontier Airlines is answering the call—by not answering your call.

The Denver-based airline last week discontinued its live one-on-one call service, making it the largest carrier in the country not to offer phone support. While the number is still active, it only features a message directing customers to their website for further help.

That help will come in a few different forms—an A.I. chatbot on its website, social media channels, a live chat with an agent available 24/7, and even WhatsApp. A Frontier spokesperson, Jennifer De La Cruz, confirmed the news to NPR last Saturday. The change "enables us to ensure our customers get the information they need as expeditiously and efficiently as possible," De La Cruz said. She said the airline found through feedback that most customers preferred communicating via online channels.

"At Frontier, we offer the lowest fares in the industry by operating our airline as efficiently as possible," the customer service line tells callers.

According to CNN, two of Frontier's budget competitors, Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines, still use call centers staffed by live agents. Meanwhile, Breeze Airways, a newer entrant into the budget flight world, also does not have a phone number for customer support. Instead, the airline uses Facebook messenger and text messages to let customers make changes to their travel plans. (Breeze, however, is also much smaller, with a fleet size of just 24.)

The further cost-cutting attempts come at the end of a rough year for the airline. Earlier this year, Frontier's attempted merger with fellow budget airline Spirit failed. Spirit instead merged with a competitor, JetBlue. Then, earlier this month, Frontier became one of six airlines fined $7.5 million for not giving customers refunds for canceled flights.

While the change may annoy many initially, it may end up saving customers in the long run; however, since naturally, the phone number was not toll-free.