The best way to describe Skybus AIrlines is to compare it to Greyhound (the bus line). I truly felt like we were cattle getting herded on and off the plane as quickly as possible. It would have cost me $100 to check my luggage so I opted to carry it on with me instead. To be honest, I was a little surprised that they do not charge passengers for carry on items.
The customer service representatives that I came across while at the airport for my Skybus flight were pleasant, however I did not come across that many of them. As with many discount airlines today, Skybus is reducing the number of human customer service representatives at the airport and increasing the number of computer check-in terminals and other impersonal ways to cut costs.
SkyBus offers the minimal in-flight accommodations as possible. While there were food and beverage selections available on our flight to Bellingham, Washington, everything came at a cost. The only thing that the price of our ticket covered was our actual seat on the plane. My choice was either to spend $2.00 for a soda or $5.00 for an alcoholic beverage selection.
Hard to beat the price
Sky Bus is one of the newest additions to the airline world. The name gives you a pretty good idea about it as it is very similar to using a bus. They fly out of and into smaller airports which means a lot less hassle and a much more reliable departure and arrival time. Most flights travel through their hub of Columbus, Ohio but new cities are being added. There are 10 seats on every flight that sell for $10 and yes, we did get $10 seats by booking far in advance. There are no freebies and the flight attendants seem more like sales people as they peddle everything from soft drinks to watches during the flight. They use all new airplanes with only one class and limited leg room. There is no telephone number to ask questions or contact them as all booking is done online. We enjoyed our flights and would use them again.
$10 flights! $49 flights!
**First ten seats are $10 each!**People, you read that right. Sky Bus sells the first ten seats on each of its flights for $10!But if you miss out on reserving one of those, it hardly matters. The next level up is only $49. Nearly everyone can afford a $98 roundtrip flight.
**How do they do that? **The company's web site is easy to use, and the way they offer lower fares is by going into far less popular airports, which are still near major metroplexes. Where I live, Southwest Florida International (at Fort Myers) is the place all the commercial carriers come in. But Sky Bus lands 30 minutes up the interstate at Charlotte County Airport. Most travelers will drive an extra half hour to save a lot of money.
**Drive a Little, Save a Lot**The list of airports Sky Bus flies into is Who's Who of airports.you've never heard of. Newburgh, NY for the NYC market. Wilmington, Delaware for Philadelphia. Gary, Indiana for Chicago. And that's precisely why 10 seats on every flight cost $10. If you're not in a huge hurry, or a time-is-money executive, Sky Bus offers a great alternative.
***Libby's Hot Tip:** As with all low-cost carriers, Sky Bus flights do not come up on web sites like Expedia and Travelocity. Go directly to the airline's web site to **find your flights and compare costs to other airliens.* NOTE IN NOVEMBER 08: This carrier pulled out of my market just 3 months after coming in. I don't know if it's even a viable concern. It may have failed completely.........
The Bottom Line: ** Libby Loved It!**
Positively the best in sky luxury
I love this airline! I live in Alaska and use this airline quite often. The Customer Service agents go above and beyond to seat my toddler with me when we can't get seats together at check-in. I have had a lot of other airlines just tell us to ask people on the plane which can be stressful when people are all trying to board and get situated. I have also noticed that they are one of the few airlines that still let families with kiddos board first which REALLY helps. The flight attendants have always been very friendly and usually go out of their way to make sure we have everything we need including juice for take off and landing.....nice trick for little ears. I have had many pilots talk to my little one as we board or deplane and even give him wings....which he thinks is pretty cool.
AWESOME airline! I am one of the lucky ones that got 10.00 seats & wow! what a deal! the plane was soooo incredibly roomy that even my 6' husband had plenty of legroom & NOT because we were in an exit row!! The flight attendants are sooo laid back & NORMAL looking....not at all STIFF like other high-heeled, hose-wearing attendants! LOL Watch for the new releases of the next batch of flights & enjoy! I am just hoping that they add Texas to their destinations!!!
Canal Winchester, OH
More than I expected!
I felt the need to write this review because there's a lot of buzz about Skybus, some positive, and some negative but I wanted to give my "first hand account" of my travel experience. A few weeks ago, I decided to book a flight on Skybus (partly as an experiment, partly because I needed to go to Columbus).
My two options were to fly from the Atlanta Airport on Delta (20 minutes away), or fly from the Chattanooga Airport on Skybus (1hr 15 minutes away).
The airfare on Delta was $280. On Skybus, it was $76, so I selected Skybus. I booked on the skybus website (www. skybus. com) and printed my boarding pass the night before the trip. I was assigned to Boarding Group 2.
As I started driving, I began wondering if the savings would be worth the extra 55 minute drive. But upon arriving at the Chattanooga airport, I realized that it was more than worth it. First of all, I parked my car right in front of the terminal. Literally, within 2 minutes of locking my car, I was placing my bag on the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint. A few minutes later, I was sitting at the gate with way too much time to spare. I then realized that the extra 55 minutes on the road leisurely driving north on I-75 were much more enjoyable than the extra time I would've needed to drive south on the I-285 loop in the middle of Friday afternoon traffic, park remotely at the ATL airport, wait for the shuttle, head to the MASSIVE security checkpoint (usually with waits of more than 30-45 minutes), take the underground train to my terminal and find my gate and flight among hundreds and hundreds of other gates and flights
By the way, the Chattanooga Airport has free Wi-Fi so I was able to log on completely free of charge while I waited for my flight. I was listening to fellow passengers at the gate area. It seemed like the carefree attitude that Skybus has spills into their passengers. Lots of socializing, and laughter. Most people were talking about how they learned about Skybus, or where they were from. A man was with his 5 year old son taking him for a plane ride because the tickets were so low. Two lady friends were having a good ol' time headed up to Columbus to visit one's son. A couple of business people had their heads buried in their laptop computers. There were several college students sporting OSU sweatshirts or hats. Definitely not the "Mind your own business" crowd normally found these days when traveling. Overall, it was a nice mix of passengers, I would say that the plane was maybe about 60%-70% full looking at the number of passengers at the gate.
My flight was scheduled to depart at 6:28pm, and around 6:05pm, I started to wonder if we'd be on time since the plane hadn't even landed yet. There are no agents at the gate so there's no way to just walk up and ask (this is probably the only thing that bothered me, but I had read about it on their website so I was prepared for it). A few minutes later, the ramp came alive with ground personnel moving into position as the bright orange airplane touched down and headed for the gate. Even though there are jetways at the airport, Skybus uses ramp style stairs to load passengers (one on the front door, one on the back). The gate agent finally showed up and said "Ok, we're going to get this plane off the ground in 12 minutes" I was like "yeah right". It was an amazing process to watch. Arriving passengers got off the plane using the front stairs. Departing passengers boarded the plane using the rear stairs simultaneously. The rampers were loading bags as quickly as possible. Everybody was very animated. The gate agent didn't lie! We were literally strapped in our seats and ready for departure right at 6:28pm!
The onboard experience: My first impression as I boarded the plane: NICE. Brand new airplane smell. The seats initially look a bit thin, but once you sit down, you realize that they are actually super nice and comfortable, with gray leather surfaces. The tray table has the name of the seat manufacturer on it: Recaro (these are NOT cheap seats. They are designer seats!). Even though these airplanes have more seats than other Airbus 319's, the design of these seats gives more space (they are thinner, no seatback pocket, and an indentation where your legs go, giving you just as much legroom at 29' pitch as more inefficient seat designs at 31' pitch). The flight attendants were all very young, super friendly and attractive. Casual is the name of the game here. No fancy and glamorous flight attendant uniforms! They wear black pants with long sleeve black t-shirts with some design and the Skybus logo in bright orange. The pilots wear a somewhat more relaxed uniform than traditional airlines as well. Still recognizable as the pilots (with wings, epaulettes, and tie) but the pants and shirts are khaki (with bomber style leather jackets and no pilot hats). By the way, It's been a while since the last time I felt like a flight attendant was genuinely happy to welcome me onboard! I did feel that way on this flight!
As we taxied out to the runway, the pilot made an announcement: "We're #1 for takeoff". Some passengers actually chuckled. Of course we're #1, this is Chattanooga, not Atlanta! Within 5 minutes of leaving the gate we were airborne and on our way to Columbus!
The flight was short (less than 1 hour of flight time). The only form of entertainment is a "Fly n' Shop" magazine. Similar to the Sky Mall magazine found on almost every airline these days, but whatever you purchase is available right there on the airplane. The flight attendants had enough time to conduct a beverage service for the entire airplane and be fun while at it. (they split a 10% commission on all sales onboard, so that might influence this friendly attitude). Most people were purchasing beverages with an ocassional sandwich (me included). Mine was a turkey sandwich with a chocolate chip cookie and some grapes. All for $10. After that, the flight attendants made an announcement that they would be going down the aisle with the shopping cart. I didn't purchase anything from here, but I was tempted to look at a few items that I saw on the magazine. Most items looked nice, and I actually found things that I would've probably purchased had I been in the mood to shop(cologne, sunglasses, beef jerky, airplane shaped kid's backpack). By the way, you can purchase items with your credit card.
Before long, we were on the ground in Columbus. The same style ramps are used to offload passengers in Columbus. It was snowing so I was wondering how efficiently we would be able to get off the airplane. Apparently nobody likes to stand in the snow for very long because people were actually moving much more quickly to get inside the terminal. Once inside the terminal, I saw the passengers already lined up for the next flight out (Going to Gulfport/Biloxi, or as Skybus advertises it, New Orleans). A few minutes later I was outside waiting for my taxi cab to the hotel, feeling refreshed and actually happy about my decision to try something different.
The return flight was almost identical but in reverse. Upon arriving in Chattanooga 2 days later, It took me a total of 3-4 minutes from the moment I walked off the airplane until I was sitting in my car (by the way, the battery of my car was dead. Another awesome thing about traveling from a small airport is that I went back inside and I spoke to a security agent who immediately brought a car jumper/battery charger kit so I was able to solve my dilemma in a few minutes).
Overall, it was an awesome experience. Even adding the extras (like extra gas to get to Chattanooga, the sandwich and drinks onboard) I still spent much,much less than what I would've spent on a traditional flight. I arrived refreshed, (not tired, cranky or anxious as when I'm going through the Atlanta airport).
I'm going to point out some of the negatives, because even though it was a great experience, I want for everyone to be aware of some things:
- READ everything on the website. It's a different kind of airline, so you should NOT expect the same level of customer service or compensation should your travel plans change. If you inform yourself, you'll be much happier than if you assume that everything will be handled the same way that a traditional carrier would handle things. If your flights are cancelled, you will have the option of going on the next flight available (usually the next day) or get a 100% refund. However don't expect to be moved to another airline. Low cost carriers don't have interline agreements.
- NO jetways. It wasn't as bad as when you're traveling on a small regional jet where you have to climb stairs, but it's not as convenient as using a jetway.
- Destinations are limited. Right now, they don't have tons of flights, so you must be flexible. For example, flying from Chattanooga to California will require an overnight stay in Columbus on the way there, but not on the way back. You must purchase each leg individually, but even adding everything up still comes up to less money than flying a traditional carrier.
- The $10 tickets go FAST but they do exist. Be ready to make your reservations as soon as tickets go on sale. I received the email from Skybus this morning saying that June and July are now open for sale. I went on their website to look for flights to Ft. Lauderdale. I could only find $10 seats in late July. I closed the site and came back 30 minutes later and the $10 seats were all gone!! I guess I'm not the only one looking for a bargain!! If you snooze, you loose!
- At the airport, almost everything you need is right at your fingertips at one of the self-serve kiosks (they have some right at the gate as well as the ticket counters). But be VERY aware that there are no humans to talk to most of the time, or even a 800 number to call. As I mentioned before, the fact that I knew about this before I went to the airport, kept me calm because I knew what to expect.
- Luggage. Checked luggage will cost you $5 per bag. However, considering that United (with other majors to follow) will now start charging $25 for any bag besides the first one, $5 seems like a bargain!
For $76 vs. $280, I'll take my "chances" with Skybus. It will definitely allow me to travel way more often than I would've in the past. I wish them all the best, and although they are brand new and trying to prove themselves, I hope that they keep growing and improving. I know that as more people learn what this airline is all about, they will truly embrace them!
How Can You Go Wrong with a $10 Fare? Let Me Tell You....
If you haven't seen the ads for Skybus, offering $10 fares each way to and from Columbus Ohio, then you've probably seen the dirt cheap promo deals for Spirit Airlines like their $9 deal. Sounds like the deal of the century, doesn't it?
Well, I love a deal as much as the next person (maybe even more), but there's no value in simply getting a rock-bottom price. Value comes from getting a good deal on a relatively *GOOD* product, and therein lies the rub, not only with Skybus, but with all of the most cut-throat cut-rate airlines. You might well be one of the "lucky" people to snag the advertised cheap prices, but you are NOT necessarily getting "a good deal".
There are a lot of **reasons** why you may want **to** **AVOID** el-cheapo airlines (dba "Skybus") and pay the higher price for a better travel experience. Here's a few to start you thinking:
- *The illusion of "savings":* While a $10 fare sounds enticing, the truth is that Skybus only has 10 seats on a flight available at that price, and they're booked far in advance. When you actually go to check their fares on dates that you're realistically planning to fly, the prices tend to be quite a bit more....sometimes even higher than Southwest and sometimes even higher than full-service airlines that give you, well, full service. Don't buy a Skybus ticket just because you *THINK* you're saving money. At least be smart enough to check around first so you know what Southwest is charging and whether the major carriers have any promos going.
- *The bait and switch of "add-ons":* Before you buy your Skybus ticket, read the terms and conditions *CAREFULLY*. Then, if they look okay, re-read 'em because you missed something. Know that the ticket covers just *YOU* flying. They'll charge extra for anything and everything...even one, single, lightweight checked bag. Adding insult to injury, weight limits are lower than they are on major U.S. carriers. If you ask for a pillow, they'll charge you extra. They'll even charge you if you ask for a glass of water on the flight! If the plane has problems in flight, parachutes are available only at an extra charge. (Just kidding. You bring your own parachutes, and they count as a checked bag. There's an extra fee for that.)
- *The looming nightmare of "customer service":* Skybus claims that they sell tickets only on their web site so they can keep prices low. Sounds reasonable, to a point. Unfortunately, that "point" is crossed when Skybus doesn't publicize customer service phone numbers. It doesn't take an IQ far above zero to figure out the problem here. Most Skybus passengers are *NOT* going to be carrying computers around with them and won't want to be mucking around a web site when their flight is cancelled or their checked baggage somehow got flown to Seattle when it was supposed to be in Atlanta. Things go wrong in the travel industry. Always. Every single day. Travelers stuck in a remote city need immediate service, not service after they find a computer, figure out how to get an internet connection, find the web site, figure out that Skybus's policy is that customer service issues are handled by e-mail, compose e-mail, send e-mail, wait up to 24 hours for a reply, send back your replay that it doesn't work, wait up to 24 more hours for a reply, be told that there is yet another charge for e-mailing customer service, etc., etc. (If you happen to be a Skybus passenger, you may want to also keep handy the web address to file airline complaints with the U.S. government. It's: airconsumer.ost.dot.gov)
- *The cost of inconvenience:* The other problem with Skybus is that they don't really go anywhere worth flying. All flights so far either originate or end in Columbus Ohio. That's not even as interesting as ending up in Cleveland! (In fact, I'm not really quite sure where Columbus is....do they have flush toilets there yet??) What's the value in a cheap flight if it's not going someplace worth being??
- *The cost of comfort:* Be aware that Skybus crams more seats into its cabin than major carriers do for the identical aircraft. 29" pitch compared to 31" on the average major carrier. You think flying coach is bad now...just wait til you feel the pain of a $10 Skybus seat!
- *The insult of hucksterism:* Skybus not only has ugly planes to begin with, they also fly the tackiest interior cabins in the American sky. There's sleazy ads inside the cabin space, hawking the kind of cheap products that appeal to trailer park white trash and the ghetto crowd used to seeing such things in city buses. As if the insult of having to stare at a scummy, defaced billboard all the way to Columbus wasn't bad enough, the flight attendants are nothing but street vendors, strolling through the cabin hawking junk food and junkier Wal-Mart merchandise. The only good thing about this is that it saves me a trip to the projects when I want to buy a fake Rolex.
Am I being harsh? Oh, yeah. I'm I being realistic though? Unfortunately for Skybus and its fans, probably too much so. I love a travel deal, but it has to be an *HONEST* deal. I don't want a cheap price on a cheap product. I want value, and that means a *FAIR* price on a *GOOD* product. And that's why I do *NOT* recommend Skybus.