skybus Is this a bus you want to ride? Zero frills airline Skybus launches today with $10 ticketsEuropean-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.

pixel Is this a bus you want to ride? Zero frills airline Skybus launches today with $10 tickets
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22 Responses to “Is this a bus you want to ride? Zero-frills airline Skybus launches today with $10 tickets”

  1. e Says:

    you missed the best part. even though they fly to all these airports, it looks like *everything* only flies to columbus. so even if you thought you could fly from oakland to burbank, you’re actually flying to columbus and back. i can’t think of a worse fate, honestly.

  2. Mark Ashley Says:

    Indeed, all roads lead to Columbus. But just think of the miles you’ll earn! Oh, wait… there’s no frequent flyer program.

  3. Mike Maddaloni Says:

    Hi Mark:

    I thought this was some kind of joke, then I went to their Web site. From the looks of the site, I still think its a joke!

    And with all of the money they are saving, maybe they could afford a proofreader for the site:

    http://ask.skybus.com/about/contact-us-received.shtml

    Or if you can’t get to that link, submit the contact form (and note that required fields really aren’t!).

    In any business, there are those who compete solely on price and those who believe they know what the customers want. This airline seems to be neither.

    mp/m

  4. Mark Ashley Says:

    Mike, you mean this: “We can’t gaurantee a timely response” ?

    Heh. Perhaps that’s the Columbus, Ohio dialect coming through. ;)

    I still think the fact that they ban outside food and drink is most amazing. “Smoking, eating, littering, or radio playing is prohibited”… just like the announcements on CTA buses. It really IS the Sky-Bus.

  5. Roo Says:

    Sounds a bit like Amtrak (only faster?)

  6. Jason Says:

    Actually part 21 of the contract of carriage does not mention food or drink as being “Prohibited Articles in Cabin…” and part 9 does not mention any beverages as being prohibited except alcohol. So in effect they are nullifying their “Rules of Flying” in the “Contract of Carriage” yes?

  7. David Ourisman Says:

    I wouldn’t fly this airline if they paid me. Customer service is important to me, and I’m willing to pay for it.

  8. Mark Ashley Says:

    This is a really good point.

    Section 21 and section 9 of the contract state that you can’t bring alcohol on board. Section 9 also mentions no hot beverages. But no other mention of beverages or food in the contract.

    I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know how, if it’s not in the contract, they can enforce a ban on outside food and drink?

    I wonder how they’d react when a passenger walked up with a bag of food and a printed copy of the contract of carriage, with the beverage sections highlighted…

  9. Mark Ashley Says:

    I wonder how many people are willing to deal with this sort of service, though. Or, I wonder how many repeat customers they’ll have.

    It’s an interesting experiment — thankfully with someone else’s money!

  10. Travel News Update: Skybus | Money for the Rest of Us Says:

    [...] ticket sales this week. They start flying in May. There’s a really good post about it over at Upgrade Travel, so I’ll defer you to him for the details. But, when it comes down to it, this is truly a [...]

  11. Smart Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be Rich - $10 Plane Tickets - Personal Finance Advice Says:

    [...] $10 Airline Tickets: New airline SkyBus is offering introductory plane tickets for as low as $10, but be sure to read the fine print. Taxes & Fees apply, checked luggage is extra and there are a limited number of seats. Still, those willing to endure a bit of inconvenience can get some cheap travel. (via Upgrade: Travel Better) [...]

  12. John Denune Says:

    I just booked, and gave them my credit card, and expected a confirmation page or email, but have not received it- now over an hour ago. I guess I will have to call my credit card company.

  13. Rob Young Says:

    Interesting responses. Last time I looked, nobody was being forced to flew with this crew, so they’ll probably not be too worried by the good natured ranting here.
    It’s a model that has worked so well for Ryanair in Ireland that (from memory) their market cap is more than BA (and they are worried about cutting Branson from a movie?!?!).
    Competition for Gold Card carriers it isn’t (and was never intended to be I suspect)but – as has been shown by the HUGE increase in budget travel in Europe – there is money to be made but carrier LOTS of people at low margin and charging folks for everything ‘extra’.
    You ‘pays your money and takes your choice’ folks…

  14. Smart-aleck test: What if you bring LOTS of food onto a Skybus flight? » Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] Thanks for visiting!Here’s a thought: Skybus, the cheapskate startup airline mentioned earlier this week, features this clause in their “Rules of Flying”: Oh, and don’t sneak food onboard [...]

  15. Short hops — April 27, 2007 — Skybus re-redux, hourly rates you’ll like, and wine crawls through NYC » Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] keeps on giving. Recall that the startup airline, in its multi-pronged efforts to be save money, claims it doesn’t have a customer service phone number, according to the website. But they do. Chris [...]

  16. Vagabondish | This Week in Offbeat Travel Links - April 28, 2007 Says:

    [...] In the European-style of ultra-discount airlines, SkyBus has just started offering flights through Columbus, Ohio. Upgrade: Travel Better has all of the details. [...]

  17. intheairallthetime Says:

    Ryan Air has a similar model and FYI, they are are most profitable airline in the world… Perhaps you yanks can learn from them as the service you are getting from UA or AA is about as crap as it gets… Why not pay what is probably is worth?

    Can you beat 1 pence for London to Berlin?

    Granted I agree that they are on the low side of “on the cheap” but this type of business model works if you do it right. There are enough Euro cases to prove it.

  18. Rich Says:

    $10 for priority boarding is misleading. Skybus has #1. priority, then #2 and then #3, supposedly this is the advertised order that you board. WRONG!!!!! #1 All handicaped persons.(OK)
    #2 ALL families with small children (no extra charge) #3. Now your $10 actually gets you into 3rd class, then #2 and #3 become #4 and #5. If you want “priority” boarding borrow one of those screaming kids running around, it’ll save you $10. Trust me, I’ve flown Skybus. The only thing missing is the Chinese, for an actual Chinese fire drill!!!!!!!!

  19. Skybus on your horizon? » Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] – Is this a bus you want to ride? Zero-frills airline Skybus launches today with $10 tickets – Smart-aleck test: What if you bring LOTS of food onto a Skybus [...]

  20. Spency McClure Says:

    I have friends who were thrilled with the service and price they received from Sky Bus. I can’t wait to try it myself.

  21. Ryan Says:

    They got the ‘bus’ thing in the name right. Air travel used to be a big deal. Now it is not unlike the loser cruiser (Public Transit) found in any major city.

    You wouldn’t expect in bus entertainment, or a pillow etc on public transit…. would you?

    Many buses that are suburbs bound take over an hour to get there…. yet on a plane ride we expect this stuff…planes are just loser cruisers with wings.

    ps. the thing I like best about these folks is the 25 minute turnaround they can achieve by using these smaller airports.

  22. Ange Culler Says:

    Being Buckeyes (that’s what we dumb Ohio hicks call ourselves)transplanted to northern California, we were thrilled to see a cheap airline that flies directly from here to there. We were able to fly our kids “home” to visit and bring their grandmother back with them and then send her back for less than $700.00. We didn’t have to worry about our kids trying to negotiate a layover or plane change. Also, when my grandfather was ill in November, I was able to fly home to be with him for less than $300.00. The flight crew was as polite, helpful and well-trained as any I have seen on flights with American, Delta, or United. They were certainly more friendly…they must be from Ohio..
    The flight from Oakland to Columbus is probably about the longest flight time and it is a less than 5 hour flight. Suggesting that people read a book for entertainment, I’ll admit, is way out of line. They must be out of their minds to think that Americans actually know how/where to acquire such an antiquated form of “entertainment.”
    I am thrilled to have this airline available for visiting my family and bringing them to visit me. We are all perfectly capable of entertaining ourselves for less than five hours and none of us have a mother earth need to always have a $5.00 cup of coffee in our hands. Perhaps those of you who can’t do without your Starbucks for those very few hours should consider a support group or detox program.
    As far as all roads leading to Columbus, we should be so lucky. I’ll admit that February and August aren’t the best, but Columbus is a beautiful city and if you are lucky enough to go there, I highly recommend you check it out.
    My only problem is, I have yet to catch any of the $10.00 fares. Does anyone know if there is a special time that they are posted? I would appreciate any suggestions.

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