Man disputes airline’s fare fees

Jason Kowalski says he got hit with a fee that he wasn't expecting.

PHOENIX — It seems like there are airline fees for just about everything these days. Want to take luggage? There’s a fee. Suitcase too heavy? That’s a fee.

Now a Valley man says the airline he used hit him with another fee.

Jason Kowalski wants to visit family out of state and he’s been doing his best to make that happen.

“I’ve been planning on this trip for quite a while to go see my grandchildren in Nebraska,” Kowalski said.

So Kowalski got online, checked some prices and found two round-trip tickets on Frontier Airlines, one for him and another for his wife. The two roundtrip tickets, Kowalski thought, were pretty affordable, only $232 total. But, before the trip, there was bad news.

“My wife ended up getting sick and I had to change the name on the tickets,” Kowalski said.

Instead of taking his wife, Kowalski agreed to pay Frontier Airlines their $75 “name change” fee so he could put the other ticket in his daughter’s name. Kowalski says he didn’t necessarily agree with the fee but paid it anyway.

“I was just ready, like here we go, we’re gonna fly,” Kowalski said.

But Kowalski’s travel plans came to a screeching halt when he and his daughter went up to Frontier Airlines’ ticket counter and was told he would have to pay more money on top of what he had already paid.

“Look, the money’s out. You guys gave me a confirmation. My name was in their computers and everything. Everything was there. The name change was done. Everything was complete but they told me to step aside,” Kowalski said.

Out of options and feeling pressured, Kowalski says he was forced to pay another fee he wasn’t aware of, just so he and his daughter could board.

Frontier Airlines calls it the “fare difference fee,” meaning there was a difference in what Kowalski paid before and what the new ticket cost at the time.

“They tell you, ‘You either pay or you’re not flying,’ pretty much. I mean, I had no other choice. The money I paid twice with was my rent money,” said Kowalski.

With the $75 “name change” fee coupled with the “fare difference fee,” Kowalski says he paid about $560 for those two roundtrip tickets. That’s a lot more than the original $232.

So, 3 On Your Side got involved but Frontier Airlines stood by their fees saying it’s their policy. Kowalski says he’s disappointed in the extra charges and believes all those fees Frontier Airlines passes on really hurts consumers.

“To budget the money for the vacation was a big deal for me and then to have to do that it really broke me and I’m like playing catch up now,” Kowalski said.

Frontier says if Kowalski can provide a doctor’s note about the medical condition of his wife then they may be able to reimburse him the $75 name change fee but won’t do anything about the fare difference fee.