Turns Out Skybus Might Actually Be Overpriced For What You Get

This past July, I decided to try out Skybus on their run from the “Seattle are”, where I live, to Columbus, Ohio, their hub and (as it just so happens) a place I visit several times a year. Now don’t get me wrong – I travel a LOT, so I’m used to delays, gruff employees and all manner of shenanigans, and trying out a brand-new airline that had only been flying for two weeks was a bit daunting. But I figured what he hell, I got a great price on two one-way tickets (the only way you CAN buy tickets on Skybust) so I threw in and figured I’d give them a shot.

Booking and ticketing online were simple enough, and I received confirmation emails of both my outbound and return flights, which I printed and took with me to the airport. Oh, yeah, let’s mention the airport situation. To save money, it appears that Skybust leases space at outlying airports, not the normal busy (and more convenient) ones closest to a major metro area. So instead of driving to SeaTac for my flight, I had to drive about 90 miles north of Seattle to the Bellingham airport. Wait, Bellingham HAS an airport?? Turns out they do, and it’s little more than a general aviation field with minimal passenger hops to places like Vancouver and Spokane, and it has the tiniest little commercial terminal I’ve ever seen, with one metal detector and manual everything. Quaint, but serviceable, and no complaints there.

Having never flown with them before, I did my online homework well in advance. I was therefore well warned by their website that they save money by not having a call center, nor booking agents, nor emails, nor pretty much anything that resembles customer service. You book your flights, you takes your chances. I knew I would be carrying one very heavy bag, so I read the rules – over 50 pounds would incur a $50 fee, and nothing over 75 pounds would be accepted. No problem, I’m used to paying the overweight fee when necessary, but a little voice told me to stuff an empty rucksack in there, just in case – and it’s a good thing I did. I printed out my confirmation emails, and make the two-hour drive north.

WHen I got to the Bellingham airport, I was surprised to discover that Skybust doesn’t have a desk at the terminal like the other airlines (Delta, Alaska and Horizon). Oh no, their counter is down the walkway, outside, and in a DOUBLE WIDE. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. So in I went, and discovered two very harried female counter employees fighting with their booking computers. While I attempted to check in with the automated kiosk, I repeatedly heard the Windows reboot sound over and over again…not a good sign. When (of course) the kiosk wouldn’t let me check in, I got to the counter and was met by the nastiest, rudest airline employee I’d ever encountered. THis woman was loud, abusive to EVERYONE, and had no patience whatsoever with anything. She mentioned how they were having computer problems and that their tech guys weren’t answering their phones. That’s when I noticed they didn’t actually have “phones” on their counters; instead, the employees were using their own personal cell phones. Ooookay. After they got their computers to boot and register, they went to log me in – and of course couldn’t find me in the records. No problem, I had my printout, I showed it to them.

This is where things started to get really interesting. The lovely rude woman insisted that I wasn’t on the fllight – not like it’s hard to find, Skybust only flies one flight a day out of Bellingham, and that was the one I supposed to be on. She insisted that I wasn’t on the flight. When I showed her the printout, she simply shrugged and said, for the first of three times that day, “Sorry, not my problem.” Excuse me?? I was so stunned that I didn’t have a comeback for that. She just looked at me, mute and smiling, like that answered allt he problems in the world. When I tried to reason with her and show her that I did in fact have a printout with today’s date on it, she again said “sorry, not my problem, you’re not on the manifest for today’s flight. It says here that you were on yesterday’s flight.” And left it at that. This perplexed me, as I pointed out to her that this would be quite impossible, as the flight back from Columbus was about 90 minutes out, and yet I was STANDING RIGHT HERE. Again with the “sorry, not my problem.”

Fortunately for me, a good friend was also flying Skybust that day, and was behind me in line. He put is hand firmly on my shoulder and pulled me gently away, lest I blow any major arteries. The rude lady and I went back and forth until I asked to speak to a supervisor, at which point she said “we don’t have any supervisors here, we’re all contractors and work independently.” Whaaa? Okay, well, how about you get on the phone and call someone? “Sorry, there’s no one to call, we don’t have a central call center.” Well no kidding. SO what, exactly, are we to do about this, I asked? “Oh, I’m not going to do anything,” she said, “you’re either going to buy a new ticket on today’s flight, or you’re going to leave right now.” Huh, is that so. Okay, fine, how much? $440. This was twice what I’d paid for the round-trip ticket in the first place, but I was in mo more mood to argue, knowing that I’d simply charge this back off my Visa when I got back.

SO the rude lady sold me another ticket to Columbus, then proceeded to go about checking my bags. One came up 71 pounds, as I knew it would, and which she pointed out to me. I was ready for this, and handed her my Visa card. “Oh no, SIR, we won’t take any bags over 50 pounds here.” Again we danced back and forth about what the website clearly indicated, and what she was telling me, and again with the “sorry, not my problem, no bags over fifty, period. Even if we could, we have no way to charge you for an over-weight fee.” Wait, didn’t you just take $440 on my Visa? Never mind. Fine. I pulled some bags and packed a third bag, which appeared to make her happy – and allowed her to cheerfully inform me that there would be a $75 third-bag fee! WTF?!? By this point I was just apoplectic about the whole thing, so I allowed ehr to check my bags in utter silence. When she finally finished, she smiled, handed me my ticket and said “here ya go, the door’s fifty feet behind me, do try not to miss this flight.” Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me.

I seethed for another hour, my friend equally perplexed by this whole thing. Getting on was fine, if unorthodox – no jetways there, just airstairs, and the flight was uneventful as well, other than the “50/50″ pot-splitting raffle the flight attendants ran and their incessant peddling of the catalog goods every ten minutes.

But wait, it gets better. While in Columbus, I decided to track down the corporate offices and see if I could speak to a real human being, in person. No dice – I couldn’t find them anywhere. SO I went to the Skybust website and sent an email complaint, which was a basic form email page. When I submitted it, along with the full details and full name of the employee, I got a confirmation page that said “Thanks for letting us know about your problem. We may or may not get back to you. Good luck!” Unfuckingbelievable. When the time came to fly out of Columbus, the staff was quite friendly and helpful, and the flight back was equally smooth and uneventful (except another round of in-flight gambling and non-stop commercials.) WHen we landed back in Bellingham, it turned out I was the last person off the plane. As I was walking down the airstairs, I was met by someone coming up – none other that the rude witch who had been so nasty to me when I’d left! I went to move by her and ignore her, but she stopped in my way and said “hey, I remember you! You’re the jackass who sent our corporate offices a complaint email about me and demanded I be fired! Well good luck, bucko, you’re gonna have to try a lot harder than THAT!” And proceeded to walk by me up into the plane.

This whole thing is for real. I couldn’t have made this shit up if I had tried. Not only will I never, ever fly Skybust again, no matter HOW cheap the fares, but I am actively evangelizing against them to everyone and anyone I know from around here. Cheap is one thing, but nasty rude and incompetent is completely uncalled for!

Thanks -
Phil

Yikes. Looks like once you add all the extra fees and mistakes, you’d be better off with a real airline.

(Photo:marada)

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    I mostly fly Southwest, which also uses the “smaller less-crowded alternate airports” strategy. They fly to enough major areas via alternate airports that I haven’t had a problem visiting most people I know; in the case of Miami the Ft. Lauderdale airport is actually closer to my final destination than the awful Miami airport is. Where I live they use a newer terminal that is almost exclusively theirs (a few gates are used for charter flights) that is a lot more convenient than the aging 70s-era main terminal.

    So alternate airports aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Saving the hassle of a huge terminal is definitely worth it. I think the biggest airport I’ve been to via SWA has been LAX, and I don’t think LA really has a viable alternate airport.

    Bad service is another thing entirely, but don’t be turned off by the thought of going to an alternate. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  2. CaptainSemantics says:

    Wow. If I was Phil, I would bitch up a storm. If I had treated even the worst customer like that in any of my previous jobs, I would have been fired on the spot.

    It’s probably not much, but if Phil is out there, he might try some of the contact info on this page: [www.elliott.org]

    It looks like he is nowhere near alone with this so-called “airline.” Don’t get me wrong, they seem to have a smart business model and *could* be really good, but poor customer service trumps just about anything in my book.

  3. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Is Skybus related to the “Easy” brand found all over Europe? Easyjet, EasyCruise .. even EasyPizza. The orange and white look the same.

  4. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Apparently they aren’t related … looks like Skybus is modeled after RyanAir … blah.

  5. BlondeGrlz says:

    Skybus flies into “Hartford” in CT, but what they really mean is Chickopee, Mass, where they rent one runway, the parking is in a field, and bagage claim is two guys throwing the bags over a fence onto a piece of plywood. It was really hilarious, but only because I was just picking someone up. No way would I get on that plane. My inlaws had their flight cancelled with no notice – but got an email twelve hours after the scheduled takeoff to let them know. Thanks a bunch, idiots.

  6. jaubele1 says:

    @Buran: Just an FYI, the Long Beach airport is a very viable alternative to LAX (only about 20 minutes south) — I fly in and out of there every chance I get (close-in parking, quick through security).

  7. TadizzleFizzle says:

    I regularly travel from NH to Ohio on business, and I am a recent convert to SkyBus. My last flight on Delta to Cincinnati cost nearly $800 and was canceled. That meant I had to get up very early the next morning & stop in Philly instead of getting the direct flight I reserved.

    I haven’t checked a bag yet on SkyBus, but the flight attendants on the planes have all been friendly. The planes are clean & new, and I’ll gladly put up with the in-flight advertising for a cheap ticket.

  8. dlynch says:

    i’ve flown skybus 5 or 6 times now, including flights into and out of bellingham, and it’s no worse than any other airline. it is frustrating that there’s no one to complain to, but if you search this very site you’ll find the contact info you’re looking for and the location of the corporate offices. sounds like you ran into a disgruntled employee and let it color your whole experience. don’t give up now. track them down and make it right.

  9. cashmerewhore says:

    I live in Columbus, and have flown skybus myself, as have friends & coworkers. If you score the $10 flight, it’s worth it. I haven’t had any problems, and wasn’t too upset with losing the $100 for the trip to Boston I couldn’t make (it would’ve cost $160 plus new fares to change the flight).

  10. timmus says:

    Interestingly it looks like Chris Elliot’s travel blog has a massive section with actual street addresses and phone numbers for Skybus.
    [www.elliott.org]

    4324 E. Fifth Ave, Columbus, OH 43219 (614) 246-8800

    Not sure what happens if you call it though. Interestingly there are only FOUR hits for “4324 E 5th” and “4324 E Fifth” on Google, so either this info is wrong or it’s well hidden from the masses.

  11. FightOnTrojans says:

    @Buran: As mentioned previously, Long Beach is one “viable” alternative to LAX. Also, for those that know that civilization doesn’t end just east of downtown, Ontario is another decent airport offering fewer headaches and hassle than LAX. I live almost halfway between LAX and Ontario, and prefer Ontario over driving across downtown and down the 405 to get to LAX.

    Back to the topic on hand, I’m sure the chargeback of the $440 2nd ticket must have generated some response from the airline. Does Phil have an update on this?

  12. pythonspam says:

    I got on one of the first flights from Chattanooga (new Skybus destination) to Columbus. Got a $10 ticket ($26 after taxes, fees, and checking 1 bag). I had no problems at the skybus counter in the airport. The flight arrived on time, the staff was friendly and helpful, and we took off on time. My return flight ($36) was delayed (as were all the carriers) by weather for an hour, but we were kept notified so it wasn’t too bad. As I am 6’5″, I was hoping for an exit row and managed to get it on both flights because I was in ‘Boarding Group 2′. I had a pleasant experience with Skybus and actually preferred flying out of Chattanooga as opposed to driving 15 minutes less to get to Atlanta.

  13. cashmerewhore says:

    4324 E 5th is a multiunit warehouse 4301 E FIFTH AV -331. It’s owned by GENE B & STEPHEN T HYMES.

  14. doireallyneedausername says:

    Well, be happy that they’re not doing that well on some of their routes. I think Allegiant Air has a much better “alternative airport” operating model.

  15. cybercjh says:

    Anybody who buys a ticket on Skybus needs to have their head examined. They might as well have called the airline SkySubway … because Greyhound provides better service. Skybus’s service is about on par w/ the Broad Street Line in Philadelphia. “We will get there when we get there.”

  16. Kounji says:

    What a pain in the butt. I seriously have no idea what I would have done had the clerk said that to me. The charge back is definitely a nice alternative.

    Southwest is excellent as far as customer service goes. Its easy to find alternative flights if flights get cancelled, and their website actually works. Plus some of the hubs they fly out of are much better than the busy old airports. Like O’Hare for instance

  17. Asvetic says:

    That entire series of events sounded SHADY as hell. You might have had better luck if you went to the air field and paid a guy with a crop duster to fly you to Ohio.

  18. pine22 says:

    at the top of the page, underneath the search bar, columbus is spelled wrong, fyi

  19. indydrew says:

    Southwest, Southwest, Southwest. I know they are not perfect, but they have a good balance. They have great service, better then most legacy airlines. As well as a great safety record. They are less expensive then Skybus, unless you score one of the few $10.00 tickets. I fly Southwest when ever it is possible, they earn the respest of their customers on every flight.

  20. indydrew says:

    Might I add that Southwest is the #1 airline in this country for a reason, service. Skybus might want to take a look at how their service is going to run them out of town.

  21. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Yeah, skybus(t?) sounds like southwest taken to the next three levels. I love southwest ($50 commutes from SD to SAC rock), but if they had service like this I would pay the extra to take someone else.

    Cheap doesn’t matter if you have to buy two tickets :)

  22. Anitra says:

    Southwest. And I don’t just say that because I never have to fly out of Logan Airport with them. (They serve New England through airports in NH and RI rather than through Boston).

  23. Buran says:

    @FightOnTrojans: Hmm, thanks guys for the recommendation. Next time I’m out that way (I do have a friend there) I’ll ask him if that’s close enough for me to come get him there. I went to LAX before because my bf was there for a business trip and I met up with him and LAX was closer.

  24. Pixel says:

    My mom has flown Skybus a couple times to visit my sister. (Mom lives in CT and sis lives just outside of Columbus, so it works out great).

    She’s been perfectly content with the service provided, and was amused at the tiny airport & baggage claim being a tent outside.

    Sounds like you got a bad employee who colored your view of the airline, plus got caught up in the birthing pains of a new airline.

    I do find in interesting that they note this happened on a two-week old airline. Skybus started flying the end of May ’07*, she they would have flown mid-June. So it is over six months later that they write in to complain? How relevant is a six-month old experience on a then brand-new airline to their current business?

    I’m not claiming Skybus is great, I’ve never flown them (and haven’t flown since 2000) so I have no clue. But this letter smacks of someone holding an unreasonable grudge against the airline for the actions of the one clerk.

    * according to this article: [www.usatoday.com]

  25. uclajason says:

    Kenneth Gile
    President and chief operating officer
    kenneth.gile@skybus.com

    Bill Diffenderffer
    Chief executive officer
    bill.diffenderffer@skybus.com

  26. socritic says:

    Amazing. Thank you consumerist, thank you whomever posted this. People like you will make the business of McAirlines and their corporate brethren a thing of the past. If i’ve learned anything from being frustrated myself when receiving bad service, is if you see someone else getting it as well, NEVER buy products from the same company. It’s called voting with your feet, and the satisfaction i get from paying the competitor the extra insignificant cash is worth the world when trying to avoid bad business. Kudos!

  27. uclajason says:

    I am not sure if those previous emails are correct or if these are. Anyway here is more info to ECB if you want.

    Floyd Nickerson
    Vice president, people
    (614) 246-8800
    fnickerson@skybus.com

    Executives (*)

    Kenneth Gile
    President and chief operating officer
    (614) 246-8800
    kgile@skybus.com

    Bill Diffenderffer
    Chief executive officer
    (614) 947-3103
    bdiffenderffer@skybus.com

  28. meballard says:

    Southwest is smart enough to know that Bellingham is NOT an alternative airport to Seattle (the Seattle area only has one commercial airport, Seatac). There are flights from Bellingham to Seattle. If you book a flight on Alaska between LAX and Bellingham, you fly through Seattle to get there. On the other hand, it can only be good for Bellingham to have an additional airline (as prices from Bellingham tend to be high, most people I know in Bellingham will drive to Seattle to fly out instead).

    Just to mention, in the LA area there is also the Burbank and John Wayne (Valley and Orange County respectively) as well as Palmdale further out (and very small) depending on where you are going. I believe Long Beach is the smallest of the 5 main commercial airports in the LA area.

  29. jamesdenver says:

    sKYBUS sells plane tickets for TEN dollars.

    If you’re hiring someone to re-roof your house or drywall your basement should you take the lowest bid? Probably not. Would you pay bottom of the barrel rates for car insurance? Not a good idea. Then why pay it for transportation? Reducing the fraction: I can take the bus from my home downtown to my suburban office park for $1.50, which entails a transfer and an hour plus jaunt snaking down congested busy streets. Or I can pay $1.25 more and take the train – making my commute a quick 40 minutes trip.

    You get what you pay for – airplane tickets included.

    [www.futuregringo.com]

  30. uclajason says:

    Just for completeness here is more info:

    Bill Diffenderffer
    Chief executive officer
    (614) 947-3103
    bill@skybus.com
    billdiffenderffer@skybus.com

    Ken Gile
    President and chief operating officer
    (614) 947-3104
    ken@skybus.com
    kengile@skybus.com

    Charlie Clifton
    Vice chairman
    (614) 947-3105
    charlesclifton10@hotmail.com

    Judy Timberlake
    VP of Marketing
    (614) 947-3041
    judy.timberlake@skybus.com

    Denis Carvil
    Vice president, ground and airports
    (614) 947-3375
    denis.carvil@skybus.com

  31. Randal Milholland says:

    This thread had me panicked. I’m s’posed to attend a convention in Columbus Friday and the con’s guest coordinator bought my flight for me. I never thought I’d say this, but thankfully I’m flying on Midwest.

  32. brappy says:

    You’ll be happy to know, that she is getting fired. Skybus service to Bellingham ends on January 5th.

  33. JMH says:

    @radleyas: I had the same thought after seeing the color scheme, but when I read the post I knew they weren’t related. Cheap though they may be, easyJet is actually reputable and has halfway decent service. (Caveat: except for one easyBus driver who was really surly, but that’s fairly inconsequential.)

  34. ivyingrate says:

    @uclajason: snaps!

  35. MFfan310 says:

    Well, Skybus is ending Bellingham flights on the 5th due to “high fuel costs”.

    And I actually am flying Skybus from Columbus to “New York”… I mean Stewart/Newburgh in a few days. The seats were only $20 each way, which even after taxes, fees, gas, and buy-on-board foodstuffs, is far cheaper than what you can get from Fort Wayne or even Indy. I look forward to flying them… but then again, I’m an air travel freak.

  36. youbastid says:

    @Buran: Long Beach, Burbank, Ontario, and Santa Ana are all viable alternatives. LA probably has more “viable alternatives” than any other city.

  37. youbastid says:

    Best CEO name ever = Bill Diffenderfer.

  38. JaYp146 says:

    I’ve flown Skybus three separate times and have found it to be more competent and reliable than Continental, Northwest, or United. The planes used were more comfortable, the service more friendly, and the prices? Not even a tenth of what I paid with the other airlines.

  39. amejr999 says:

    If they refused to let you on the plane with a confirmed reservation, that’s an involuntary denial of boarding (aka a bump). Complain to the DOT and dispute the charge on your credit card.

  40. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    Skybus was a very nice alternative for the San Diego-Columbus route…which they’re discontinuing as of March or April. Primary airports on both ends, and the only non-stop available on the route. Even setting price aside, it was the best option.

    Another nice thing: All the planes are brand new.

    It actually sounds like the OP would be recommending the airline, but for the psycho in Bellingham.

  41. varco says:

    A few thoughts:

    The Bellingham Airport is at least 100 miles from the Seattle Airport. A little Homework would tell you that Bellingham =/= Seattle.

    On the other hand, Horizon = Alaska’s commuter air service (and they offer free microbrew/Washington wine on most flights). The leg from Seattle to Bellingham runs about $160 roundtrip they are about the only show in town for most flights into town.

    As a nice, small airport, BLI is a billion times nicer to get into/out of than SEA.

    After seeing a Bellingham-based airline with a realistic business plan fold almost instantly(Western Airlines offered flights for Candadian snow birds out of Bellingham to Las Vegas and Phoenix), I had no confidence in Skybus. They were offering $20 flights to Ohio and not much else. They looked seriously crazy or seriously shady or both.

  42. WraithSama says:

    Wow. Just… wow.

  43. yetiwisdom says:

    @jamesdenver: I had my house roofed by the lowest estimator and he did an amazing job and actually talked us out of $750 of work that wasn’t really necessary. Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it will be crap – it can also mean that the provider is trying a volume model or is just ethical! Regardless of price, if it was $5 for a ticket they’d still be obliged to provide the service offered.

  44. StevieD says:

    Price versus Service

    Price versus Service

    Price versus Service

    You want a low price ($10) then you will get comparable level of service.

    Fly First Class on ZXCVB Airline and you will get special flight attendant one-on-one in the the locked restroom level of service.

    It all boils down to what you want (or need).

    Price versus Service.

  45. rjhiggins says:

    @StevieD: Just repeating the same, moronic mantra over and over doesn’t make you right. For one thing, very few people get the $10 Skybus fare. He paid a good amount more than that and got service that wasn’t even worth $10.

    We all make these price-vs.-value compromises every day. He certainly deserved a better result.

  46. rjhiggins says:

    @jamesdenver: Wow, great advice: You get what you pay for. I think we can safely say that Phil (who did not get one of the $10 fares) got far less than he paid for in this case.

  47. bnb614 says:

    There is no excuse for treatment like that or piss poor operation of the company.

    But the story starts off with a complaint that the airport is not SeaTac. If you didn’t know you weren’t flying out of SeaTac before you book the flight then you aren’t paying attention to detail, and that isnt their fault.

    And flying into smaller airports can be awesome. The Colorado Springs airport is amazing compared to the behemoth that is Denver. I can land in Colorado Springs and be halfway to Denver before people at DIA get from their plane to baggage claim.

  48. bnb614 says:

    There is no excuse for rude behavior or piss poor customer service, or any of the attitude you received at the airport. That being said, the complaint starts off discussing not flying out of SeaTac airport. If you didn’t know you weren’t flying out of SeaTac before you booked the flight, that is your fault for not reading the details, not SkyBus’.

  49. secondgreatdepression says:

    Even though SkyBus seems to be closing down in B-ham, be sure to let the Washington State Attorney General’s office know about your experience. What happened to you may or may not have been fraudulent, and the AG may or may not be able to help you. But it’s good to at least give them your story, in case yours is not an isolated case – that’s how states bring charges against shady companies.

  50. bkpatt says:

    The entire story seems GROSSLY embellished. I can imagine a person having a problem with an employee, or showing as booked on a different flight, but unless you are undoubtedly the UNLUCKIEST person on the planet, you have been working this story up for maximum play.

    I’ve flown Skybus 7 times round-trip between Columbus and Portsmouth since their inception. I read the rules carefully and took my chances, and I am yet to be disappointed. I’ve only found the sales pitch in-flight annoying probably twice, most of the time they will ignore you other than the food offer if you put headphones in.

    However, out of ALL the times I’ve flown Skybus to/from Portsmouth, I’ve seen no less than 3 or 4 people that sound just like YOU in line. The entitlement is practically dripping out of your story. People can’t read the kiosks and follow basic directions, and the second they get confused, they expect some minimum wage servant to rush from the shadows and cure their ills all while massaging their ego.

    Grow up. If you are flying an airline that has issues with bags over a certain weight limit, do NOT intentionally pack a bag within just a few pounds of that limit. You are practically ASKING for issues, then crying about it!

  51. Buran says:

    @bkpatt: Wow, so just because you had good service, you think no one else has ever had bad service? There’s always somebody who thinks bullshit like this is not only excusable but acceptable. And apparently your selective reading let you skip over the parts where you can see that this guy DID plan within the rules and still got treated like total shit.

    The only person around here who needs to grow up is you.

  52. theora55 says:

    I’ve been flying Skybus a fair amount. Planes are in great shape. The shilling for gifts is really annoying on a 6 a.m. flight when I want to sleep. Customer service has been inconsistent. They call it Boston, but fly out of Portsmouth, NH. Not bad, actually, the airport has free parking.

    Skybus had some cancellations over the Christmas holiday, and had no resources to help passengers. Most airlines have relationships with other carriers, and can get you on another flight; not Skybus. Stranded passengers had to wait until Skybus had a flight open, and paid for their own hotel in the meantime.

    I hope they work out their growing pains; cheap tickets to Columbus are very handy for me.

  53. theora55 says:

    And my absolute worst airline customer service was on United, and it was a lot more expensive.

  54. meballard says:

    @bkpatt: “If you are flying an airline that has issues with bags over a certain weight limit, do NOT intentionally pack a bag within just a few pounds of that limit. You are practically ASKING for issues, then crying about it!”

    Charging for bags over 50 pounds is pretty standard policy for airlines, and their webpage clearly states that they accept bags up to 75 pounds, but that they charge for anything over 50 pounds. He was following that policy exactly, he was willing to pay for his greater than 50 but less than 75 pound bag, like basically every other domestic carrier does, and yet she refused to accept the bag.

  55. ThatSaabGuy says:

    Okay, let’s clear up a few things here. Bear with me :)

    - I started the story by describing BLI simply to explain to those who don’t know how Skybust operates. I have no problem flying out of a big airport or a dirt strip, or hell even a cropduster, if it gets me there in one piece and relatively on time
    – I’m not making ANY of this up. Nor am I asking for handouts, or demanding restitution; I already tried that. I’m simply relaying the story of the single worst customer service experience I’ve ever had in over 25 years of flying all over the globe. Further, I’m not a whiner, or a screamer, or someone who feels entitled to anything when it comes to flying; sometimes the flights leave on time, sometimes they dont, and that’s why I always carry a fully-loaded iPod and a couple of books. I don’t yell or scream or get rude, even when treated like this. My friend held me back, he later told me, because he knew that even the calmest people have breaking points, and he feared that I was getting near mine.
    – The bag weight thing: since I routinely travel with big, heavy things (proof copies of books, metal miniatures, chainmail armour, etc.) I’m used to checking very carefully what the weight policies are on various airlines. Skybust clearly stated at the time two bags, 50 each, $75 for bags over 50 and less than 75 lb. The Rude Lady simply refused to check in ANY bag over 50 pounds, and gave no explaination outside “I (not we, I) will NOT check any bag over 50 pounds.” Her only explanation was that they had no way to take any payments for overweight baggage, despite having just charged my card an additional $440. When we were boarding the plane, I looked right and saw why, I believe, they wouldn’t check heavy bags: there wasn’t a conveyor belt from the ground to the cargo hold. Rather, two guys carried over an extension ladder, and one climbed up in the hold and waved his hands in a “toss ‘em on up” fashion to the guy below, who proceeded to toss each and every bag up to the cargo door. Now THAT was a sight to behold…
    – When I was in Columbus, I took a couple of hours and drove to both locations where I could find references to corporate offices (I believe at the time I even used Elliott’s pages as my guide.) I found nothing, no signs, no offices, nothing. While I was there, I also emailed every single VP and email I could find relating to Skuybust, asking for someone to get in touch with me. Nothing. Not a peep. Not then, not now, never.
    – when I got back, I did call Bank Of America and register a chargeback complaint. The very nice lady there listened to my story, verified my purchases and the like, and was in general the very opposite of what I’d faced just two weeks earlier. However, she was only able to reverse the charges on the unused part of the original ticket, about $125, because although the $440 had been an outrageous charge, I DID in fact use that ticket. She was incredibly sympathetic and tried her best, but that was as much as she could do. Better than nothing!
    – I hadn’t yet heard they were canceling service out of BLI. While it doesn’t surprise me much, it’s still kind of sad. They tried, they failed. No matter how piss-poor my service was, I still regret the fact that we’re without a discount airline out of SeaTac or anywhere nearby

    I’m originally from near Dayton, and I was quite interested when I first learned about Skybus a couple of years ago and their plan to turn the grossly-underused Dayton Int’l Airport into their hub. So I really do WANT to root for the home team. But after I was treated and ignored, I simply cannot recommend them at this point. Maybe if someone had contacted me, or dropped me even so much as a “get bent, asshat” email, I think I wouldn’t have been nearly as disgusted as I am with them now.

    Traveler Beware!

  56. ThatSaabGuy says:

    I’d like to clear up a few things:
    – First, and most important, I wasn’t rude or yelling or being a total jackass to this woman. I fly a LOT, and I’m generally very mellow about such things, which is why I travel with a fully-loaded iPod and a couple of books. Sometimes the flights go, sometimes they don’t, that’s the way it is. I was angry at the way she treated me, not a sense of entitlement or demanding (I detest those types of flyers as well.)
    – I mentioned the difference between BLI and SeaTac simply to put the Skybus thing into perspective, for those who might not know how they operate. I’ll fly out of a major hub or a dirt field, hell I’ll fly in a crop duster if it’ll get me there cheap and relatively on-time…

  57. bkpatt says:

    @Buran: Please try not to put words in my mouth… read the story. It sounds like EVERY bad customer service experience all in one event. It’s highly unlikely, hence why I think the story is played up to intentionally sound that way.

    Yes, I have had service equivalent to what they represent – which is very very minimal. I anticipate it because I paid for it (or didn’t as the case may be). I don’t expect the world for a pittance. However, I’ve had it consistently now… 14 flights, with very minor inconvenience. I think that gives some perspective that obviously this guy connected with the wrong person on a bad day with some serious bad luck, and playing it up like it’s a constant is poor taste.

    Read the comments… not a single corroboration to this experience. Some people content, some people wish a few things were better, but not a single person yet to say they have had a similar experience as drastic in total. To the opposite, more people commenting they are overall pleased with the service.

    For quick commutes that are cost-friendly, it’s hard to beat. I can drive up to Columbus, be in Boston in a few hours, all for $100 even on the $35 fares. Booked early enough and took all 3 of us to Boston for $110 round-trip.

    For 3 round-trips to Boston @ $110, I’m willing to say No Thanks a few times to cheap trinkets. And if I get cancelled or something happens sometime? Wow, all the money I’ve saved thus far, and the opportunities I’ve had that I otherwise couldn’t have due to cost… well, it will suck, and I may be upset, but in the bigger picture, I’ve saved thousands (quite literally).

  58. bkpatt says:

    @meballard: I agree, and his experience was poorly handled. His complaint is valid, and he addressed it to the company. I truly believe he got the wrong person on the wrong day, and the employee should be promptly terminated for how bad she does her job. He is blasting this company as if they shouldn’t exist, though. Let’s just shut any company down the first time it gets a customer service complaint! That’ll teach ‘em!

    In reality, he should be extremely happy that upon his return, she acknowledged she had been reported. How quick is that to turn-around a customer complaint and direct it to the employee before his return flight? Try calling United customer service and filing a complaint directly about an employee. I did on our return flight on United, and I received a sorry form letter response 3 months after I sent the original complaint. I highly doubt any corrective action was taken with that employee, based on how long it took me to even receive a response.

    Personally, I am very impressed this employee was dealt with so swiftly and promptly. I hope he files his second complaint about her response, and that ends her tenure, that would help alleviate any other poor soul from dealing with her.

    Whatever, everyone has their opinion. I just find this one blindly tainted, and thus far, nobody else is chiming in to sway me. Quite the contrary, most are wishing success to the company so the good deals continue.

  59. bkpatt says:

    Oh, and for added effect… original story, paragraph 3:

    “I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.”

    Last paragraph:

    “I couldn’t have made this shit up if I had tried.”

    Yeah, we got that… NEXT!

  60. Moneypenny says:

    What amazes me is that no one has addressed the fact that the employees were on their own cell phones and there were sounds of computers rebooting…

    Has anyone given any thought to the fact that perhaps we were dealing with an employee who was a little stressed out and whose computer may have been malfunctioning?

    I know it’s a small part of the story, and it doesn’t make up for the fact that this passenger wasn’t treated the way they thought they should be…but it’s hard to be sunshine and rainbows when you feel like you have to hand-crank a piece of modern equipment!!!

    My parents have flown Skybus a number of times and have never had a single problem. In fact, at one time they went out of their way to solve a problem for my dad. I’ll be flying on the airline at the end of the month. I think some people have to keep in mind that this is a new venture and there are some rough spots to smooth out. Sounds a bad day all around, but it doesn’t seem like it was just a bad day for the passenger.

  61. esq2003 says:

    So much drama! So much intrigue! So much bullshit!

  62. sis says:

    I like how the author cleverly adds a “t” to the end of Skybus, thus both naming the airline and sending a political message at the same time.

    Also, by “cleverly” I mean “childishly” and this cost him credibility in my eyes. The scene at the end when he bumps into the rude lady seriously reaks of fictionalization. Life is rarely so neat, in my opinion.

  63. esq2003 says:

    Another point that proves this is bullshit – he just happens to carry an empty piece of luggage, and would rather just cram everything into one overweighted piece – as if he PREFERS to pay the $75 fee. The rational consumer would USE that extra piece, and not pay that fee. However, this guy, who is either irrational or attempting to beef up his portfolio of fiction to present to Hollywood during this writer’s strike, WANTS to pay the extra $75.

    Whatever.

  64. meballard says:

    @esq2003: It is $50 for the overweight fee, it is $75 for the third bag fee. It wouldn’t been $25 LESS for him to pay for the overweight bag than to use a third bag.

  65. JerseyJarhead says:

    1. In NO other industry could an employee treat a customer like that, even an unreasonable one (and this guy wasn’t), and keep his or her job for 20 minutes. Once a Continental employee at EWR told me “why don’t you go fuck yourself?” after I politely observed that she had no idea how to operate the Jetway, and should have gotten some training before trying (and before jamming it against the door and trapping us inside for 40 minutes).

    2. Having said that, anyone possessed of common sense should look a bit askance at an airline that trumpets its similarity to a bus, has no phones, that virtually charges you to use the restroom, flies to airports you never heard of, and can offer fares of $10 under ANY circumstances. The way they peddle common comfort items is absurd and comical – why would you expect professionalism and competence? Don’t. Even large, reasonably well-capitalized airlines treat us all like shit these days. How on earth do you expect another Mickey-Mouse airline, built on the founder’s outsize ego, to be even as good as the shitty majors?

  66. brofriend says:

    While the story indicates bad service I have been happy with my three trips to Columbus and my trip to Ft. Lauderdale. I have had one hour delays and nothing worse. I amnot a fan on the selling of merchandise but,if that is necessary to keep my 10 dollar fares it is worth it to me. The key is to sign up for the email and wake up and make decisions well in advance

  67. sbd652 says:

    I have been a big fan of Skybus, but no more. My daughters have been delayed by 11 hours and 4 hours, respectively, and I have witnessed horrible treatment by the Skybus employees in the airports. I live in LA and my daughters go to school near Columbus, so their being delayed is extremely upsetting to them (and me!)I had to book one daughter on Southwest and drive her from the Burbank airport to the Ontario airport, just so I could ensure that she could be back in time for this semester.

    I had planned on booking a trip to Winston-Salem when they started flying that route in late February, but I hesitate to do so at this point. Every time one of my family members flies on Skybus there is a problem.

  68. robbitubalard says:

    You can try their manager of stations at 614 849 2941 or their internal phone tree that takes you to their operations center at 614 947 3200

  69. upset says:

    SKybus seems to have adopted the logo “Thats not my problem” We heard that over and over again when we tried to get some help from them at the airport, where you cannot rebook your flight or make any changes, or get ANY help if your flight is cancelled…..

    The people from Delta came forward to help us and offered flights at far less money and were friendly and never once said “That ‘s not my problem’. When weather caused jet blue to cancell a flight they, they accomadated and never charged any fees, even said have a nice day.

    So I say it not my fault that skybus may have a short ride if they don’t learn customer service strategies.

  70. upset says:

    Good Luck called they don’t care, I think I interupted something important like doing her nails…