DENNIS SEID: New airline’s first impression leaves a bit to be desired

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

First impressions are everything. So if you’re a business launching your initial product or service, you want to make sure you’ve got the details down.
It’s understandable that not everything will be perfect. Mistakes are made, something gets overlooked.
Not that the Tupelo Regional Airport and the city of Tupelo haven’t been in the news enough already, here comes another headache. Sorry, folks.
Yes, we’re talking about the new airline, Silver Airways, that will provide service in Tupelo, starting Oct. 1.
Silver, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this year won the FAA’s approval to provide service for Tupelo – and several other cities across the country. Greenville and Hattiesburg are included.
Silver flies Saab 340 turboprops, planes Tupelo passengers got used to flying to Memphis. And now the Saabs are back, but headed in the other direction, toward Atlanta.
Online reservations for Silver’s new service were to have started Aug.1, but were pushed back to mid-August. That didn’t happen until last week – Wednesday, to be exact. No reason was given.
But if you thought you could simply go to Silver’s website and book a flight, not so fast. Instead, when sales started Wednesday, you were directed to a toll-free number that talked about Montana flights. That, fortunately, was changed Thursday afternoon after I called about it. Unfortunately, the recording said, “thank you for calling Gulfstream International Airlines,” which was the predecessor to Silver.
Close, but not quite.
What about booking those Mississippi flights?
For now, you can visit kayak.com or any other online website (Travelocity, Expedia) to book a flight from Tupelo to Atlanta. That’s good, but how about reservations on Silver’s website? We’re told that hopefully will be changed this week.
I also asked Silver if there was a schedule of departures and arrivals for Tupelo Regional, and the answer was no.
And why not? Wouldn’t it make sense if you’re starting a new service from scratch you’d have the schedule readily available? On the Tupelo Regional Airport website at flytupelo.com, there’s a proposed schedule, which differs from some of the times that actually are available.
Silver Airways, you’re not helping instill confidence in your airline, I hate to say.
Perhaps by the time you read this column – I wrote it Thursday – the kinks have been worked out and everything’s running smoothly.
Tupelo to Atlanta is a great idea. Better than going to Memphis. And Silver presented a plan the FAA even liked.
Now is the time to convince the public to “fly Tupelo” and to “fly Silver.”
That first impression hasn’t been so impressive, however. A month-long delay and you can’t book flights off the website? Incorrect info for the reservation number? Schedule not ready? Really, that’s inexcusable.
But maybe the flying public will give you a chance to make a better impression.
Dennis Seid is the business editor at the Daily Journal. Reach him at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.