European-style ultra-discount airline Skybus started selling tickets this morning, with its first flights taking off in a mere four weeks (May 22). Fares start at 10 bucks, plus taxes. But this isn’t airline business as usual for passengers in the U.S. There are some important rules you need to be aware of before you buy your tickets.
For starters, they sell tickets point-to-point, which means you need to buy two separate tickets if your flight requires a connection through their Columbus, Ohio hub. Pain-in-the-butt factor? High.
Then there are the airports. Go to the Skybus website, and it looks like they fly to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle. In reality, they fly to Portsmouth, NH, Burbank, and Bellingham, WA. (Burbank isn’t terrible, but the others are WAY out there.) This is somewhat deceptive. (For now, they’ll fly to Bellingham, Burbank, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Kansas City, Oakland, Portsmouth, and Richmond.)
But what’s really interesting — even shocking! — is their “rules of flying” and their more complete contract of carriage, the terms and conditions of your ticket. Some of them may come as a shock to the American flying public. Let’s dig in:
Checked bag? Check, please! Luggage fees
The first two bags are $5 each. After that, it’s $50 a bag. Checked bags are the American standard — 50 lbs. — and there’s a $25 surcharge for overweight bags. After Spirit Airlines started charging for bags, this policy doesn’t come as a surprise.
No Starbucks allowed: Food and drink verboten, unless they’re selling it
Everything costs money. No word on pricing yet, but there’s a charge for anything you consume, as well as for pillows and blankets, which you get to keep a la Air Canada. But here’s the kicker: “Oh, and don’t sneak food onboard unless you brought enough for the whole plane.” Huh? Self-catered food is prohibited. The contract of carriage also contains this doozy: “In the interest of safety, passengers are prohibited from carrying hot drinks on board.” Even with a Java Jacket and a cover?? Wow. No Starbucks for you, tough guy!
Amish-style entertainment: No video
“Bring a book. We’re not big fans of fancy in-flight entertainment systems.” Say no more.
No phone number means no phone tree hell
This one had me floored: “We don’t have a phone number. Seriously. We’d love to chat, but those phone banks are expensive. And a good website like skybus.com is even more convenient.” Better make sure your cellphone has a good data plan if you’re flying Skybus.
Do you work here? Ultra-low gate staffing
“You probably won’t see any agents at the gate until boarding time.” Better hope you don’t have a question or need assistance.
Board early for $10
All seating is open, much like Southwest, but you can pay a fee to jump to the front of the line. No word on whether they’re doing seating areas or zones.
PBOR? Not really
Stuck on the tarmac? Drinks are for sale! Or rather, they’ll try to sell you drinks. “We will endeavor to… make refreshments available for purchase.”
I’m sure there’s more, but this is based on a first reading of the info on the Skybus site. The way things are going, there are probably plenty of other doozies in there.
Contrast this with Virgin America, which claims to offer low fares and better service, including inflight entertainment. Two startup airlines, both claiming to be discount, but two different worlds. I know which one sounds better to me.