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Liveblogging Skybus: Final Thoughts

May 24, 2007 at 4:37 PM | by | ()

This is it, our review of flight numbers 2 and 7 on Skybus is coming to and end.

The above photos was taken at CMH minutes before that happy mob tried to board a two hour delayed Skybus flight to Portsmouth New Hampshire last evening.

Why was the mob so happy?

Low fares. Despite the complete lack of organization and communication from Skybus folks at CMH, and the long delays, at least 50% of the crowd was still smiling. All anyone wanted to talk about was the dirt cheap fares they had scored just days before this flight. The big winner? Someone who claimed he had purchased a $10 ticket from Portsmouth to Columbus, then another $10 ticket from Columbus to Burbank--he was traveling next week. No idea if he was ever coming back east and he didn't seem to care.

The happy glow of purchasing low fares, and the inevitable web chase for those ten $10 tickets on each flight will float Skybus for the first couple months. However, if during the travel hectic summer they don't get their act together as far as on-time arrivals, boarding organization, and communicating delays, passengers will inevitably begin shouting Skybust.

Skybus will find plenty of college kids, cash strapped families of four, and bargain hunters to seek out and snap up their low fare, zero frills airline tickets, but will those people travel enough to carry the airline towards the massive and rapid expansion they hope for? Doubtful. In order to succeed Skybus will, at least in part, need to become a somewhat reliable possibility for business travelers and weekend flyers.

The airline has brand new planes and a honeymoon period where passengers, who are paying next to nothing for flights, will have low expectations. Thus, Skybus will have some room to breathe, get things right, try to keep the buzz positive, and hope the rest of their ambitious plan comes together.

To put things in perspective--Jaunted's flight from Portsmouth to Columbus was a grand total of $45.00, all in ($10 one way, $20 back plus $15 of fees). A cab to and from CMH to downtown Columbus cost us $20.50 before tip. The flight was cheaper than a round trip cab ride.

Related Stories:
· Full Skybus Flight Review Live Blog [Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

The Wal*Mart of the Sky

I guess there's plenty of room in the sky for all tastes; I hate Wal*Mart and avoid it like the plague, choosing to spend $2 more across the street at Target for the same item, just so I don't have to deal with the Wal*Mart experience.  Likewise, if I'm traveling, especially on someone else's nickel, I'll probably get on jetBlue, AirTran--or maybe even the new Virgin America; and let the Wal*Mart crowd walk in the rain across the ramp to sit on a 3D version of the Home Shopping Network.

Despite my preconceived contempt, though, I am watching Skybus carefully.  Afterall, you'll notice I didn't say I'd fly Northwest or United (who charge extra for larger economy seats) or US Airways (whose flight attendants try to sell you credit cards on-board, then make you watch a 20 minute video about US Airways vacation destinations)--all of whom also charge $8 for stale sandwiches, the choice of which also narrows to "grossest possible" for passengers in the back.

The point being that as the LCC's try to outdo each other on amenities, I think an ultra-LCC like Skybus is more likely to put the squeeze on the network carriers.  As you're being nickel-and-dimed by an underpaid United flight attendant, you might just ask yourself why you didn't just pay twenty times less at Skybus for a similar experience.  That, more than the jetBlues, might finally kick the comprehensive carriers in the butt to start providing unique, top-notch flying experiences.  (I can but dream.)

Thanks for blogging this, it's been great fun.

Skybus, The Fung Wah Bus of the air

The only thing missing is the Chinese. Sorry, this is not politically correct, but Skybus is run like a Chinese Fire Drill. I have now flown Skybus 4 times (2 round trips). The only flight that was on-time was Columbus to Portsmouth, NH (Boston). It also happened to be the first flight of the day so the plane was in Columbus, fueled and ready to go. As the day goes on, you fly by Skybus time. Ontime can be anywhere from 1to 2 and 1/2 hours late. My flight back to Columbus was 1 and 1/2 hours late. Columbus to Greensboro, NC, 1 hour late.When I asked the agent at the boarding gate if the plane would arrive "on-time?" she said, "It will be landing any minute now so you may begin lining up." 40 minutes later, the plane lands, right on time!! Greensboro, NC to Columbus same story, I wass told "for a change, this late in the day, we are on time." On time was 1 hour late. I'll pay the extra and FORGET SKYBUS!!

Skybus rules!

I flew Skybus to Portsmouth, NH o/a June 26th. The flight out was pleasant, with little weather and we arrived at the old Pease AFB maybe 15 minutes late.  The luggage arrived as scheduled and we were able to get a rental car in a reasonable amount of time.

I flew back on July 3rd and the flight arrived at Columbus 18 minutes early. Again the flight was pleasant with very little weather problems.

The flight attendants were courteous. They did offer the assortment of items that can be purchased but were not at all "over the top" about selling.

As a business traveller, I found that they did a much better job than Delta that had me waiting in Harts Field for over 8 hours one night while they kept changing gate assigments. Would I fly Skybus again - heck yes you all !!!

Worth A Try!

Fly Skybus!

My wife & I just returned from San Francisco.  We flew out of Columbus to Oakland on 8/26 & returned 9/1.  While we are not frequent fliers we do fly once to twice a year on average and have experience flying many different carriers.  We did NOT pay $10 per seat...and we don't feel slighted one bit.  We WILL fly Skybus again, especially in light of the terrible costs of flying out of Cincinnati (our closest major airport).

But we will fly Skybus again for reasons other than cost:  they do a great job!  Every member of the staff (in flight and on the ground) was polite, courteous, & friendly.  Our outgoing & incoming flights were either on-time or early.  The food we paid for was good (slightly overpriced BUT, considering the in flight staff is at the lower level of the pay scale...and is so darn pleasant...I don't mind...their service was better than most of the "pros" we've run into from Delta, AA, United, etc.!).  Yes..you also will get a sales pitch or two for the "trinkets, treats, and sparkly things" they sell during the flight...but it is NOT high-pressure or bothersome....unless you are one of those people who are annoyed at just about anything.  And...please...if you are that type of person, please find some other airline anyway!  In fact, the whole Skybus attitude & experience was quite refreshing.

The tips you've probably already read about checking in & printing your boarding passes on-line, getting there early, & standing in line are worth following and remembering.  If you can afford the extra $10 for priority seating...do it!  If you can't or you just don't care where you sit on a flight...pocket that $10 and enjoy the ride.  We don't have young children, so standing in line is no big deal but...if you have children...you'd be wise to bring some entertaining stuff to keep them occupied while you wait.

The planes are new or pretty darn near new.  The seats are quite comfortable...and we ought to know after flying 4 1/2 hours one way twice!  This is NOT some junky, bargain-basement carrier with crummy planes that may get you there alive.  Skybus is...for the average, everyday human being...a great way to get to and from their destinations comfortable and safely.

A few Oakland observations for you:  be ready for a different type of airport than Pt. Columbus or Cincy or Indy when you de-plane in Oakland.  In comparison, Oakland's airport is less clean, less organized, and generally less friendly than any of the previously mentioned airports.  If you take public transportation to get to San Francisco you will take the BART shuttle bus ($3.00 per person) to the Oakland Coliseum stop....change to one of the BART trains (catch the right one...not all of them go to San Fran!) which will vary in cost depending on where you plan to get off in S.F. (you will need to pay BEFORE you go up to the train platform).  I strongly suggest you acquaint yourself with both the BART and MUNI systems BEFORE you go and TAKE A COPY OF THE TRANSIT MAPS WITH YOU for reference sake as they are not always as conveniently posted for review as they are in other cities (like Chicago, for example).  Also, depending on the time of year you travel, be ready for a higher temperature in Oakland than in San Francisco...so don't just pack clothes for one season if you are weather-sensitive.

We gave Skybus a shot...and were pleasantly suprised.  We think you will be, too!