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Great Lakes Airlines

Upstate New York
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Great Lakes Airlines

I had a terrible time with this airline out of Pueblo, CO. This was to be the first of three planes to end in Syracuse, NY. First the flight was delayed by a half hour and then came the announcement that there was no captain so the flight was cancelled! I had to ride in a taxi for 2 and 1/2 hours to get to Denver in order to even start my flights east. The taxi driver said they are called regularly since this airline is known for canceling flights. Has anyone else had trouble with Great Lakes? I will never fly with them again!

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39,484 posts
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1. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

If the taxi was paid for by the airlines then I think they did all they could to get you to your destination, that's not always the case. however if you had to pay for the taxi yourself then that's a different matter.

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
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413 reviews
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2. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

Never had a problem with Great Lakes and have flown them a fair amount, but do know the carrier isn't the best with on-time performance and I suspect that's especially true at remote airports like Pueblo.

Pittsboro, North...
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3. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

I had a terrible experience with Great Lakes Airlines as well. I was flying out of Clovis NM, the Municipal airport in town.

I arrived at the airport at 0500 this morning for a 0600 flight, beating the staff of the airport to the building by about ten minutes. When they arrived and checked me in, I was told that the airplane had not been fueled the night prior and thus was empty and needed fuel, this at 0540, twenty minutes prior to takeoff. The fuel truck was not available immediately, and thus arrived some time after 0600, and began fueling the airplane. At 0640, forty minutes past take off time, I was told that the airplane was broken and that they would need to accommodate me otherwise. The schedule at this airport is such that the next (and only) other flight out of here is at 1322 today, but they were telling me they hoped they’d have this plane fixed prior to that. After about three hours of maintenance, I found out that they can’t fix my plane locally, so I just cheerfully said I’d take the next one, which unfortunately is the same plane. So, a little frustrated at a chorus of shrugs, I pressed for more information, at which point the pilot of the airplane butted in, demanded to know what I wanted, at which point I reiterated my question: when can I go home in an airplane? I had already checked out of my hotel room of course, and my rental car keys were locked in the drop box, so I was stuck there until they fly or drive me out.

The pilot didn't care for my wording, I suppose, because he then told me that based on my pressing for more information, he would -not allow me on his airplane-, even assuming they did get it fixed. At this point the plan was for this broken plane to fly to Denver for repairs and return hopefully in time for the 1322 scheduled departure, at which point the pilot informed me I would not be allowed to fly. Furthermore he told me he "didn't need my attitude," and informed me apropos of nothing that he had been there since 0500, which was false. I had -in fact- been there since 0500, and I was the first and only car in the lot when I got there. I watched that pilot arrive nearly half an hour later. I smoothed over things with the pilot, and was at least going to be privileged enough to fly on this untrustworthy airline operated by short tempered pilots, assuming Bubba in Denver can fix it.

While waiting for this repair to take place, I called my travel agent to investigate other travel options. I was told that there was one seat on a flight out of Albuquerque (a three hour drive), but it would cost almost 200$ to get there in a rental car (that's a day rental plus eighty some dollars for one way drop off). While I was on the phone, the airport staff came over and told me the plane would be leaving to get repaired "in a few minutes," and that it should be back by 1300. Based on that information I did not book the rental car and opted to wait for the plane to come back fixed. Five minutes after it took off I was told that the afternoon flight was cancelled and that the airline would be putting me up in a hotel for the night and taking me home the next day.

I called my travel agent back and the seat out of Albuquerque was no longer available. So I got to stay an extra night, sans transportation, in Clovis NM. The La Quinta they put me in was quite comfortable but:

1) Had they refueled the night prior they would have known the plane was down then, and could have effected a fix then, instead of learning about it forty minutes after take off time.

2) Had they been forthright with me about the likelihood of a fix at any point prior to cancelling the afternoon flight, I could have gotten home that night from Albuquerque.

3) A pilot who involves himself in a discussion with a passenger, who then threatens that passenger to ban him from the flight for "attitude" is unforgivable and possibly legally actionable. I did not raise my voice nor use profanity, I was merely a customer asking to know when the service for which Great Lakes Airlines had been paid would be rendered.

Orange, California
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1 post
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4. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

I just had a similar situation trying to fly in/out of Clovis NM.

Upon arriving in Denver, several hours in advance of the 5:30PM flight to Clovis, I was told that the flight had been canceled. The 6AM flight the following morning was booked solid, but they could accommodate me on the 5;30PM flight the following day (that would be Christmas Eve). It was not a weather or mechanical issue, but rather the pilots weren't legal for the flight. No mention was made of hotel vouchers or assisting me with other arrangements. I managed to get myself at my own time/expense into DFW and then Roswell, NM. My son had to drive 2 hours each way from Clovis to retrieve me (no one-way car rentals in Roswell, NM, either).

The next morning Great Lakes called me to let me know that my departure flight on Friday at 6:00 AM had been canceled, but they could put me on the 1:15 PM flight. While not optimal, as it limited my options for a connection in Denver, if there were no glitches I would be able to catch the last flight to Los Angeles, so I agreed. The the next morning (Thursday) they called me again to let me know that all Friday flights had been canceled, and that the earliest flight would now be on Saturday.

Sensing a pattern, I elected to travel out of Clovis that day, as the holiday air travel situation would be getting worst and not better. I asked the agent at Clovis to arrange ground transportation for me to Lubbock, and let her know that I expected a full refund of my airfare, and for Great Lakes to pay for my transportation to Lubbock ($105 -- a 2-hour drive). To the agent's credit, she did arrange for ground transportation and provided me with the contact info for requesting a refund.

Again, the cancellations were not weather or mechanically related -- the agent actually told me that they didn't want to fly into Clovis any longer and were looking for a replacement airline to pick up the remainder of their contract. I suggested that as they were taxpayer subsidized for these routes, that they should fly even with only one passenger (I was apparently the only passenger, per the agent). The agent indicated that they received payment only if they completed the route -- even more incentive to fly the route! While logical, she indicated that it was above her pay grade and not a decision that she could make.

Not surprisingly, Great Lakes would have to prepare an abundance of paperwork to issue a voucher and the shuttle company was not willing to wait for payment -- sounds as though they've been down this path before with Great Lakes. So I paid the $105 with the understanding that I would be reimbursed by Great Lakes. I also tipped the driver $20 and spent about $50 in gas for the round trip to Roswell -- both of which I'm sure won't be reimbursed.

I sent the appropriate paperwork to Great Lakes this morning. Based upon other reviews I've read online, they don't seem to be overly forthcoming about producing reimbursement -- I'm hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. If I don't get a response within the next few days, I'll simply contest the charges on my credit card for the flight, but will likely still be stuck with the $105 shuttle cost, not to mention the inconvenience and costs associated with arranging my own travel to and from Clovis.

Bad experience with little-to-no customer service up to this point. I certainly won't be recommending nor flying Great Lakes Aviation at any point in the future. Should the situation change, I will update my review.

5. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

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Saint Paul...
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1 post
45 reviews
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6. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

The problems with Lakes:

1.) New Government Regulation pilot rules for hour requirements, have sent Lakes into turmoil starting in 2013. The majority of Great Lakes Airline flights are cancelled because of lack of crew. Not the airline's fault, but our the decisions of Washington lawmakers.

2.) Great Lakes Airline planes are old, and are no longer made. Their current fleet was produced in early 1990's and stopped production years ago. Hence, mechanical failures are common, and sometimes not so easy fixings.

Hope this helps

East Sussex, United...
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7. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

The majority of Great Lakes Airline flights are cancelled because of lack of crew. Not the airline's fault,


Of course it's the airlines fault if they don't employ enough staff.

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4,551 posts
33 reviews
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8. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

Yes, true. Really they have shot themselves in the foot. They don't employ enough staff because on the wages they pay not enough suitably qualified pilots will work for them. The US government increased the level of experience that pilots require before becoming qualified to operate passenger planes (other than the very smallest) as a response to a crash a few years ago. This makes it more expensive to become an airline pilot and fewer people are starting it as a career because the wage structure makes it hard for them to clear the debts incurred before they become fully qualified.

Most airlines would increase the ticket price to the passenger so that they could pay the wages necessary to get the right number of pilots. Great Lakes however specialise in contract flying - they operate subsidised routes like Clovis, or regional routes on behalf of the big US airlines, and they're locked into the contract price until the end of the contract period. They aren't the only small-to-medium US airline in this position and a lot of towns and cities served by planes in the up-to-50-seats category are going to see fewer flights or no flights at all over the next three or four years. Although the little plane may have the name of one of the big airlines on the side, most of them are flown by smaller airlines under contract.

New Orleans...
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1,215 posts
112 reviews
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9. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

There was a time I flew Great Lakes quite a bit for work. The thing you have to realize is that they are a small company that provides government subsidized service for a handful of travelers to get to rural towns in the mid-west. IF they were not in business, the other option for getting to many of these places might be a 5 hour drive from a major or a medium-sized airport.

The company staff are very nice, but again, this is a small company that flies out of small airports. TSA is inherently more difficult in these smaller airports, and the airline is subject to many problems, due to a huge variety of things entirely beyond our knowledge and beyond our control.

I'm just grateful that we are able to fly to these small towns when I have to get there for work. I hated that 5 hr drive I once did from Kansas City to Great Bend, KS in freezing fog and on black ice, but I had to get to work sooner than even later!

McCook, United...
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1 post
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10. Re: Great Lakes Airlines

All I hear is more excuses ... no resolutions. point is why does the American Consumer absorb and Always absorbs he blow. If you cannot run your business ... then don't take my $$$ ... plain and simple ... don't point fingers and it does not make it correct ...

American Customer Service is HORRIBLE !!!!!

Customer seems to absorb the COST .... most of the time ... Accountability and Responsibility .... what happen to People Helping People ....