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Skybus


How much airline do you get for $10?

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Mar 27, 2008

Skybus generates a lot of buzz among travelers and travel professionals alike. It advertises $10 fares, and it's one of the first (and few) domestic airlines to follow the Ryanair model—offering rock-bottom prices and charging extra for everything from onboard food and beverages to seat assignments, checked bags, and more. Skybus isn't for everyone, and many of you have shared your own experiences with us. Find out if the $10 fares are worth contending with the airline's quirky route map and customer service style.

Prices and routes

Skybus' major attraction is its prices. It claims to offer at least 10 fares for $10 one-way on every flight. But as one reader writes, "If you are drawn to Skybus by the $10 fares, good luck. In [its] overall pricing scheme, there are a lot more $300 seats than $10 seats. Do the math: each Skybus plane holds 150 passengers, getting the $10 seats is like winning a lottery."

In my analysis of Skybus' most recent offer, I could only find $10 fares on two of the four advertised routes. From my previous experience covering the airline, I expect the remaining $10 fares on its current schedule to sell out within a month.

In recent months Skybus has begun to expand its route map beyond its Columbus hub, but it still focuses primarily on Columbus and Greensboro, and it doesn't offer any connecting service. New routes include flights from Newburgh, New York, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a route that is somewhat deceptively billed as New York to Boston. It also serves Punta Gorda and St. Augustine, advertised as Ft. Myers and Jacksonville/Daytona Beach. And that's a real drawback: Its route map can be downright misleading, as it lists the closest major city instead of the airport it actually serves. (More examples: Chicopee, Massachusetts, stands in for Hartford; Gulfport/Biloxi instead of New Orleans; and Gary, Indiana, in place of Chicago).

Skybus has also begun dropping cities from its route map, including Bellingham, Washington; Chattanooga; San Diego; and Niagara Falls, New York.

Customer service

Skybus is an online-only operation, and does not provide a customer service phone number. Instead, customers are encouraged to email Skybus, though its website states, "Because of the large volume of messages we receive, we can't guarantee when you'll receive a response." Not exactly comforting.

One reader wrote in recently with this warning: "Watch out for Skybus!" This reader claimed that she booked a flight on Skybus, only to have the airline change her flight days later without an explanation. Upon further investigation, she says she discovered her original flight was still available for booking, though at higher prices than she paid. Her email inquiry to Skybus about the itinerary change has yet to receive a reply. "There is no way to call and speak to anyone, and obviously they do not care about replying to email," warns the reader.

Advertising

In a previous article, I wrote about the stream of advertisements travelers are subjected to on Skybus, with sale pitches from flight attendants and ad-plastered planes. But one reader took issue with my assessment: "I just completed my first time flying with Skybus two weeks ago ... I did not find it to be a 'constant stream of sales pitches.' There never was any pressure to purchase anything; they were polite and moved on."

While this report differs from my assessment, I'm pleased to hear not all flights are heavy on the advertising.

smartertravel.com

How much airline do you get for $10?
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