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Bewildered, Angry Frontier Passengers Swarm Other Airline Ticket Counters With AM-Frontier Bjt

August 24, 1986

DENVER (AP) _ Thousands of bewildered, angry Frontier Airlines passengers swarmed airline ticket counters Sunday, trying to swap their tickets for seats on other carriers after Frontier abruptly stopped operations during the night.

″I’m very surprised, very harassed. I purchased the ticket last night and they didn’t say that I would have any problems,″ said Diokhane Bara of Dakar, Senegal, who was trying to catch a flight to Vancouver, British Columbia. He had been in Denver only one day.

On Saturday, Frontier had denied numerous reports that it was on the brink of parking its planes and going to bankruptcy court.

Frontier normally carries 17,000 passengers on 325 flights per day, and on Sunday those travelers found themselves with no way to get where they were going.

Near-pandemonium reigned at Stapleton International Airport, Frontier’s main hub.

Until the shutdown, about 6,000 people had flown Frontier out of Stapleton on 110 flights per day. But those arriving Sunday to catch flights were greeted by messages blinking on television monitors: ″Frontier Airlines has ceased operations.″ ″Contact other airlines for service.″

Short-tempered travelers gathered in front of the empty Frontier ticket counter shouting questions at a People Express representative, who said over and over again that Frontier was closed.

People Express bought Frontier last fall. United Airlines offered to buy the money-losing Frontier, but the deal was stalled by an impasse between United and the pilots’ union.

Lines more than 100 people long quickly formed at Continental and United counters. Those airlines said they would accept any Frontier ticketholder on a standby basis.

Many passengers were caught unawares by Frontier’s sudden shutdown, despite published warnings late last week that it was contemplating such a move.

″It’s kind of crazy. I was expecting it tomorrow. I have a friend who works at Frontier, and he said I was safe until Monday,″ said John Chisholm, trying to get a flight home to San Diego. ″I was supposed to leave at 8:30 (a.m. Sunday), but now we’ll be lucky to leave at all today.″

Vita Willeke had planned to fly to Midland, Texas, where relatives were waiting at the airport to drive her home to Eldorado, Texas.

″I’m stunned, I guess. I called yesterday and the agent assured me the news media was wrong″ about Frontier going out of business, she said.

″It’s too bad they’re going under. I’ve flown Frontier a lot. I hate to see it go out of business,″ said LaVila Onufrock of Colorado Springs, who was at the airport with a friend scheduled to board a Frontier flight.

The few Frontier employees at Stapleton appeared distressed. Flight attendants getting off one of the last arriving flights were shepherded into a van outside the concourse. Some were in tears.

A Frontier employee who reported for work Sunday, only to learn the airline was closed, also left in tears. ″I don’t know what I am going to do,″ said the woman, who refused to give her name.

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