Budget airline Frontier has started passing along some COVID safety costs to passengers, even as the airline has quietly stopped taking passenger temperatures before each flight.

The Denver-based airline, known for bargain tickets and a pile of extra fees, added a $1.59 “COVID recovery charge” in May, spokesman Zach Kramer said.

The airline’s website says the charge offsets costs such as increased sanitation and cleaning on its planes and at the airport, shields at the ticket counters and in gate areas and personal protective equipment for employees.The charge is per passenger, per one-way flight and is not easy to find when booking a flight on Frontier’s website.

What the website doesn’t mention: Frontier last week ended passenger temperature checks, a COVID safety protocol it put in place a year ago. When it was introduced the airline’s CEO touted it as “another layer of protection for everyone onboard.”

“This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their wellbeing is our foremost priority and we are taking every measure to help them travel comfortably and safely,” Barry Biffle said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later said temperature checks had limited effect on stemming the spread of COVID-19.

The airline ended the practice on June 14, Kramer told USA TODAY. Frontier was the only U.S. airline to take passengers’ temperatures.

“Given the easing of CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines with respect to COVID-19, as well as falling infection rates among the U.S. population, we made the decision to discontinue customer and crew temperature screenings prior to boarding,” he said via e-mail.

A Frontier Airlines jet at Denver International Airport. The airline is headquartered in Denver. (Photo: Frontier Airlines)

The new COVID recovery fee was first reported by travel blog Miles to Memories. 

New airline fees weren’t prevalent during the first year of the pandemic, when travel was decimated and airlines were just happy to have travelers click buy on dirt-cheap tickets. Early in the pandemic, Frontier did try adding a fee to block the middle seat next to you but rescinded it after public outcry that it was profiteering.

But another major airline fee even went away during the pandemic. Most major airlines eliminated hefty ticket-change fees – for good they say – on all but their cheapest tickets. (Frontier and some other budget airlines have resumed charging fees to change tickets as pandemic travel waivers ended.)

Shopping for flights: Change fees and other pre-pandemic policies are back on some tickets

Source: Read Full Article