Sunday, November 11, 2007

Skybus Delivers: Cheap seats and relatively few hassles

Looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get from St. Augustine, Florida, to Columbus, Ohio? Skybus is answer. Could also be the answer if you are going between any two of these places:Skybus routes

Ten seats on every flight are sold for only $10. The rest cost more as plane fills up. I tried them out for the first time on Friday, to make the trip from Florida to Ohio to collect the Great White Office. I paid $90 including all fees, taxes, government surcharges, etc. That was at least $40 less than any other commercial flight I could find from Jacksonville, and this plane left from St Johns County airport just 3 miles and a cheap cab ride from my house, as opposed to 50 minutes and a $45 fare to JAX. To book...

...click here (and no, I don;t work for them). Skybus is ahead on cost and convenience. But what are the downsides? Well none of these things are real downers, but:

  • you pay extra for eveything you get, including a soft drink during the flight (but you can take your own Coke onboard AND you can buy a hot sandwich which a lot of the major carriers don't offer, even if you pay).

  • you pay extra to check bags ($10--but who needs to check bags?)

  • you fly in a billboard (Nationwide insurance had dibs on my plane)

  • you walk up to the plane (ditto on many commercial flights serving JAX and it is a short walk, as opposed to the wlak and bus at some places, such as Heathrow)

  • you wait in a terminal that is short on chairs and entertainment (bring a book)

  • you can't call the 800 number (they don't have one)

  • you have to listen to sales pitches (like duty free on international flights)

  • you don't get audio or video at your seat (take your iPod and noise-cancelling headphones)

  • you don't get an assigned seat (like on Southwest, but you can pay $10 to be in Zone 1)

  • you don't always arrive on time (so what else is new)


There are other limitations. You can only book between two destinations--no schedule exists for St. Augustine to LA even though Skybus flies between both cities and Columbus. And there are very few flights per day between each city pair. BUT, these guys are onto something. We have friends in Maine and Boston. I just looked online and could book a round trip from St. Augustine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for $90. Try doing that with a major carrier.

Finally, the equipment appears to be new. All planes are Airbus 319. The seats have decent spacing (seat back pockets are above the serving tray to give your knees a few more inches).

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