Despite one travelers woes, airline says its doing better
By Tim Leeds
Big Sky Airlines has taken steps to improve its service in Havre, but you can't prove that by Julie Katrovitz.
Katrovitz had a flight booked to leave Havre the morning of July 17. Personnel from the Havre Big Sky office called her at 9 p.m. July 16 and told her the flight would be late leaving Havre because of mechanical difficulties.
Since the late departure would have caused her to miss her connection in Billings, Katrovitz said, she called the airline's office in Billings and was told she would make her connection in plenty of time if she took a Big Sky flight from Glasgow.
She started the 160 mile trip to Glasgow at 2 a.m. In Glasgow, she learned that flight was also late and that she'd miss her Billings connection after all. The Glasgow personnel told her that the Billings office found out the flight would be late about 10 minutes after she switched her reservations. She's left a number to contact her in Havre but nobody called.
Five days earlier Big Sky vice president Craig Denny came to Havre and publicly pledged to improve the company's service and image.
"It was ironic that the pledges to make (the airline's service) better were run in the daily press while I was there," Katrovitz said.
Denny said this week that there must have been some miscommunication between Katrovitz and the Big Sky office.
He said the airline has had a pretty good record for the last couple of months, and it's rare to have simultaneous problems on flights out of two towns.
Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said she is impressed with the efforts Big Sky has made to improve its service and reputation.
"They have been working very hard to upgrade the customer service and, personally, I'm pleased with their efforts," she said.
Vandeberg added that people have to realize that even major airlines have canceled flights.
The company's performance records state that 100 percent of Havre flights were completed from July 9-15 and July 23-27, and 92 percent were completed July 16-22.
Don Seagraves, manager of Havre's Big Sky office, said he's been working with people to let them know about flights and problems. He said he has been recording the status of the next morning's flight on the answering machine at the office so passengers can check whether it's leaving on time.
He added that he's been getting a positive response from the community about that service.
Seagraves said he's been trying to work with passengers and reroute them through Great Falls when necessary.
Katrovitz said she asked if she could do that and was told she could not.
Seagraves said he doesn't remember the particular incident with Katrovitz, and doesn't know why she couldn't be rerouted through Great Falls.
Katrovitz said that once she arrived in Billings, Big Sky worked to change her flights so she could proceed home to Yorktown, Va. The trip, which usually takes 11 hours, took her and her 20-month-old son, Jordan, 18 hours.
"It was a long, miserable day," she said.