One sign of a PR fail: You have to write a letter to lawmakers insisting that your company was not trying to profit from pandemic fears. Just ask Frontier Airlines, which announced Wednesday it is scrapping a new fee related to social distancing. "We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent," CEO Barry Biffle said in his letter, reports ABC News. "We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space." The mess started on Tuesday, when Frontier said customers could pay an extra $39 to guarantee they would have an empty middle seat next to them.
The backlash came swiftly from customers and lawmakers alike. "I don’t think it’s appropriate for some passengers who can’t afford to pay an additional charge for a seat to be less safe than other travelers," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, expressing a common sentiment among critics, per the Wall Street Journal. Frontier had justified the move as added "peace of mind" for customers, but it said it believed its planes were safe enough even without the measure because of other safety precautions, including increased cleaning. In any event, the fee is now gone. Other major airlines have made efforts to keep middle seats open, though Business Insider notes the seats still get assigned if demand is high. (Read more Frontier Airlines stories.)