Recently my wife and I decided to travel back to our home town in September. We normally rent a mid-size car and drive the nine hours each way over a two day period. Being under twenty five and renting a car isn’t very cheap, especially when you plan to take it out of state! Our normal rental fee is around $400-$500 for a week long trip including mileage.
The way we travel home was about to change though!
A couple of my co-workers were talking in late June about a new airline that is based out of Columbus Ohio (about seventy miles away) and has very affordable fares. They let me in on the greatest travel secret known as Skybus.com! When Skybus releases tickets for public purchase the first ten seats sell for $10! Two roundtrip tickets for my wife Ashley and I cost $81.60 after taxes and other fees.
Now I know what some people might be thinking, what kind of airline sells tickets for $10! Which is a great question, and believe me, had me concerned as well. I’m not one to take risk when flying with my wife but I assumed they had to be reasonably safe to operate under FAA guidelines!
Skybus keeps their fares low by cutting out several meaningless extras and automating the process of purchasing tickets, checking in, and keeping tabs on the status of the flight. Everything takes place online from the initial order to printing your boarding pass. There is no toll free number to talk to a customer service agent and you don’t see a Skybus employee at the airport until you check your baggage for your flight. I’m used to doing everything online from paying bills to purchasing items off eBay so buying a plane ticket and checking in is no big deal!
Another method for keeping costs low is charging for extras such as in flight drinks, snacks, blankets, pillows. I don’t mind paying a couple of dollars for a drink in flight to only pay $10 for my ticket. They also have a ‘trinket trolley (their name not mine!) which features items such as perfume, chocolate, jewelry and other novelty items but since our flight from Columbus, OH to Kansas City, MO is sort they opted to no bring it down the isle.
Our experiences were mixed at first but extremely pleased later!
We flew out of the Port of Columbus airport on September 18th at 9:22pm, or at least we were supposed too! After checking our bags and getting through TSA security we headed to our assigned gate and waited, and waited, and waited until about thirty minutes before our flight was scheduled to depart. A young man working for Skybus informed us that our flight would be delayed because the pilot scheduled to fly us to Kansas City was delayed on another flight. Around 10:30pm we were boarded and ready to take flight! During the flight the flight attendants were very kind and had great attitudes. My wife and I were interested in trying the in flight food but much to our dismay we were informed they were out of several items. My wife wanted to try the turkey wrap but the flight attendant informed us that they indeed had several available but didn’t feel comfortable severing them since they had been on the plane since 10am earlier that day. Hey I don’t mind missing a case of food poisoning right before our vacation starts! They did have a several refreshments such as pop, tea, water, beer, and alcohol and were reasonably priced from $2 (for pop and water) to $5 for alcoholic beverages. They flight attendants didn’t push any merchandise on us from the ‘trinket trolley’. We arrived in Kansas City around 11:15pm safe and sound and just a bit late.
Our return trip was on time and ran just as expected. They were again out of several snack items. I assume they only stock the planes in the morning before their first flight. One of the other ways I think they keep costs low is to only clean and stock the flights once a day to make a faster turn around on the air craft processing.
I’ve read several mixed reviews of Skybus on other web sites. One recurring theme is the young flight attendants. My experiences were excellent with them but I try not to ask too much of them. One review I noticed questioned their training at handling emergencies in the air. I’m sure the Skybus flight attendants are trained in first aid and CPR like any other airline would. If there was a catastrophic accident, such as a crash, I don’t think someone who is 40 is going to handle it any better than someone who is 25. Heck if I see someone who is calm, cool, and collected after a plane crash, I’m not following them, who knows what’s wrong with them!
Skybus really isn’t for business travelers, since their last minute fares seem to be on par with other budget airlines and lack of business class seating and features but I highly doubt the last minute business flyer is their target audience. Most other passengers were families trying to save money just like us.
My beef (or ham)
- They advertise flying into Seattle, WA but the plane will land in Bellingham, WA. Skybus services smaller air ports where renting terminal space is much cheaper.
- The Columbus, OH gate doesn’t have an enclosed jet way so making your way from the terminal to the plane exposes you to the elements. I’m not that concerned but it is a valid complaint.
- All Skybus flights must either depart of arrive in Columbus, OH
Wrapping it all up (without food poisoning!)
We’ll differently fly Skybus again for all of our trips home and maybe even when we take trips to other destinations that Skybus serves. It was a long audacious endeavor to travel home twice a year but flying makes it so much easier and cheaper now! Thank you Skybus!2488