Frontier Airlines changes stance on cancer patient’s free ‘Green’ flight

For a moment, Ira Green felt a surge of good luck, thanks to his last name.

The 67-year-old Raleigh man learned of a promotion from Frontier Airlines, which offered a free flight to anyone with the last name Green or Greene. He has close friends in Buffalo and Ft. Lauderdale, so he started making plans for an unexpected trip.

Then came a little turbulence.

Frontier required its Green passengers to fly on Tuesday. But Green, who has stage-four colon cancer, was scheduled for chemotherapy that day. He called the airline and asked for a switch.

“I can’t understand why they couldn’t maybe change for someone who has cancer,” he said Monday morning. “It’s kind of foolish. What is one seat on a flight to Buffalo or maybe Ft. Lauderdale for them?”

Then came relief.

After The News & Observer contacted Frontier, a representative called the would-be traveler to offer him a voucher good for a flight of his choice. “They were very nice,” Green said Monday afternoon.

Last week, a North Carolina woman and her daughter sued the airline for $55 million, alleging they were forced off a plane after they complained about vomit on a seat.

But Frontier’s “green” campaign has scored positive publicity for the Denver-based airline, making headlines on CNN and in the pages of USA Today.

“We’re very excited to share our green message with everyone,” Zach Kramer, a Frontier Airline spokesman, told CNN. “I was surprised how many people have the last name Green.”

Green, meanwhile, is making plans. The Frontier beckons.

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Josh Shaffer covers Wake County and federal courts. He has been a reporter for The News & Observer since 2004 and previously wrote a column about unusual people and places.