Son says Frontier Airlines mistreated deaf parents when their flight was canceled

Airline did not provide sign language interpreter
Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 09, 2018

Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.

DENVER -- A Colorado couple on their way to celebrate their grandson's first birthday are accusing Frontier Airlines of mistreating them because they are deaf.

Their son, Nikolay Filatov, reached out to Denver7 after his parents' flight was canceled and they had trouble at the ticket counter. His parents are deaf and need a sign language interpreter to communicate.

"But no one would explain why, what, how to go about rescheduling a ticket. They just kept shoving her off and shoving her off," said Filatov as he talked about his mom attempting to get help.

Filatov said there was confusion and a breakdown in communication when his parents went to the ticket counter. He ended up getting on the phone with an employee in an attempt to ask for an interpreter.

According to Filatov, the person replied, "Well we don't have one."

When Denver7 reached out to The Denver International Airport, a spokesperson said an on-call interpreter is available and can be reached through a video call at all times. She added that Frontier Airlines should've known to contact customer service. 

Frontier Airlines released the following statement:

Frontier Airlines takes the needs of all customers seriously. The passengers did not identify as having a disability, as is required, when they made their reservation. After becoming aware of their disability, every effort was made to assist them in keeping with Federal regulations and company policy. A variety of options were presented, including a refund, vouchers for future travel on Frontier, or accommodation on another airline. The passengers chose to receive a refund and $500 each in Frontier travel.

The airline tried to communicate with his parents using a pen and paper, but there was another communication barrier. His parents are originally from Russia and could not understand what the employee was writing. 

"They were discriminated against. This failure to provide effective communication falls under the definition of discrimination," said Amy Robertson, Co-Executive Director of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center. 

Robertson said what happened to the couple is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.

"That shows just a deep ignorance of the law that is very unfortunate with Frontier," said Robertson.

Filatov said his parents are scared to fly Frontier again and have not rescheduled the flight. They ended up missing their grandson's first birthday party. 

"They were low-class citizens because they had a disability," said Filatov.