In re: $10 flights? Skybus gets set to fly from Columbus.

250px-skybus.jpgColumbus, Ohio is definitely not at the center of the aviation world, despite its proximity to Dayton, arguably the birthplace of aviation. This might change soon as Skybus, the newest low-cost carrier in the United States is set to begin operations later in May offering flights as low as $10 (before tax and fees) to ‘secondary’ destinations such as Burbank (instead of LAX) and NH instead of Boston. The first day of ticket sales proved to have a few glitches, but still brought in a pretty amazing 60,000 sales (pretty unimaginable before the internet era – See story in Columbus Dispatch)

How are they planning on making the fares so low? Well they are cutting every corner known to airlines, low wages for attendants ($9/hr) along with commission for onboard sales. Oh and onboard sales are where they hope to make money. Like movie theatres living off of popcorn sales, Skybus plans to hawk wares while they fly you cross country (they won’t let you bring your own food/drink on board) as well as putting ads all over the aircraft (outside, inside, even on the carpet). In Europe budget airlines have become the way to go (see NY Times “Adventures in Low-Cost Travel” where the author attempts 7 flights, on 7 budget airlines, in 7 days) In the past I’ve jetted around on various versions of the European budget jet and have been pretty impressed that 99 pence ($1.50 at the time) bought me a ticket from London to Frankfurt Germany on Ryan Air (the Irish pioneer of budget travel), but was less impressed when we landed in Hahn, Germany almost two hours from Frankfurt.

Will Skybus succeed? Will people be okay with walking out to their plane on a cold day in Columbus because they aren’t paying for the sky bridge to the plane? I think so, of course there will remain a market for a bit ‘fuller’ service travel, and likely some of the ‘majors’ will attempt to compete with the budget folk, but all and all more options is good.

Also see Columbus Underground post on Skybus and Wikipedia entry on Skybus.

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