What To Do If You Hold Skybus Tickets

Defunct budget airline Skybus plans to issue full refunds to all ticket holders. The airline announced last night that they were done flying less than two weeks after former CEO Bill Diffenderffer quit to pursue a book-writing career. While everyone who hasn’t yet traveled will soon be reunited with their cash, what about passengers who are in the middle of a trip? Let’s ask Air Force Sergeant Gary Patterson.

Gary L. Patterson, who flew Skybus from Richmond yesterday to visit his girlfriend, said he felt “empty” when he learned he wouldn’t be going back the same way. He’d gotten word when a friend called his girlfriend.

Patterson, 42, an Air Force tech sergeant temporarily stationed at Langley Air Force Base, said he’s frustrated. He thought “common courtesy” called for at least a week’s notice.

But “getting mad is not going to change anything,” he said. “It’s not going to get me back on Monday morning.”

Skybus is not providing alternate transportation.

Patterson planned on getting something to eat and trying to find a way back tomorrow.

Skybus is instructing slighted passengers to contact their credit card companies for a full refund.

Airport: Skybus Airlines Shutting Down [AP]
Skybus shuts down, cancels all flights [The Columbus Dispatch]
PREVIOUSLY: Skybus Airlines Ceases Operations
Skybus Will Try To Mimic Some Other Ultra-Low-Cost Carriers, Just Without The Whole Imploding Aspect
(Photo: marada)

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  1. humphrmi says:

    He thought “common courtesy” called for at least a week’s notice.

    I’m not happy that all those people lost their transportation (I won’t say “lost their money”, because they’re all getting refunds.) But seriously – he expects “a week’s notice” for a company to go out of business? I’m not blaming the victim here, I hope he gets home (at least he knows he’ll get his money back) but honestly, does anyone expect a company to give a week’s notice before they go out of business?

    We fell for these fly-by-night, financially shaky companies in 1998-2000, right before the tech bubble burst and put them out of business. You’d think we’d learn to read when all hell is about to break loose and stay away from similarly shaky companies now.

  2. Pink Puppet says:

    @humphrmi: Well, I suppose one could certainly wish for such a thing. It would at least be courteous to give some notice before going out of business, though I’d admit it wouldn’t be common.

  3. ecwis says:

    The airline announced last night that they done flying

    They done flying?

  4. Falconfire says:

    @humphrmi:

    but honestly, does anyone expect a company to give a week’s notice before they go out of business?

    Not only should you, in some states it is the LAW. They knew internally there where major problems coming, the idea they just up and decided to stop flying one night is ludicrous. They likely knew weeks ago after their CEO up and left that the company was going under but hid it.

  5. blitzcat says:

    One of my employees took the day off to fly up to Philly(?) today, but came into work around 11am. So I asked what happened. He said they flew up to wherever the airport was, and just circled around with the captain making delays saying they couldn’t land for x more minutes due to fog. After a half hour, they just flew back to Greensboro. I pointed out that planes make automated instrument landings all the time, so the pilot was making some sort of BS answer, and it was more likely they couldn’t pay the landing fee. But I wasn’t certain what was up till I saw the news this evening. I guess my employee was on the flight when the news leaked- and the pilot realized he didn’t have a job tomorrow.

    They made some announcement about ‘do this to get your refund’ at the airport, and he did it, but no confirmation numbers were given to prove he sought the refund. We had a quick chat about chargebacks right then :0

  6. humphrmi says:

    @Falconfire: Sorry, but I’m afraid there’s no such law. I’d love to see your citation if there is. I’ve worked for a company that went out of business. Sometimes it all comes down to the wire, i.e. you find out at the 11th hour that your last ditch creditor decides to float you or not to float you for 30 more days and you either have the cash to keep paying your day-to-day bills or you don’t. Most companies don’t have the luxury of knowing that they’re going to run out of cash a week in advance.

  7. Shadowfire says:

    “Skybus is instructing slighted passengers to contact their credit card companies for a full refund.”

    Uh….

    No one else saw this? I mean, really? Ouch.

  8. huadpe says:

    @humphrmi: There is such a law, but it is superceded by bankruptcy. I can sue you for reneging on a contract to provide a flight. The court can enforce a debt against you for it. But bankruptcy courts organize all your debt and determine order of payment and portion thereof. So you could sue them, and get in line with all the other creditors.

  9. levenhopper says:

    If you bought your ticket via credit card, and your credit card has travel insurance, would that insurance cover the difference between an ordinary flight (one average fare with 14 day advance purchase), and the more expensive fare because I’m buying the new fare so close to when I take off?

    I’m suppose to fly out later today, but I’m now scrambling to find a new flight. The ones I’m looking at are now about $350, but I fly this route all the time, and fares are typically $200.

    So I’m not worried about loosing the skybus money, because it wasn’t a lot of money for my fare. I’m more worried about the extra $150 I’ll be spending because I’m buying my ticket 14 hours before I’m suppose to take off.

  10. freakwent-flier says:

    How to get home? The travel insurance will help buy a full fare ticket elsewhere. Other airlines may help if you can’t afford full fare. JetBlue announced $50 standby tickets if you show proof of booking on a cancelled Skybus flight for the next couple of weeks. Other airlines will probably follow suit.

  11. Pro-Pain says:

    Skybusted.

  12. chiieddy says:

    A week’s notice? When the company that ran the Big Red Boat cruise line went under, they had their customers stranded in foreign countries (okay, Canada, but still!) when the banks came a repossessed the boats. Basically, it’s not the first time this happened, and at least he didn’t pre-pay for an all inclusive vacation to multiple ports on the airline. :-)

  13. PoleMan14 says:

    Awesome…just hit the 45 minute hold mark with Chase.

  14. nequam says:

    @humphrmi: A number of states allow an alternative to bankruptcy called an “assignment for the benefit of creditors.” I believe the notice requirement is a common feature, but the procedure itself is uncommon. It’s not really superseded by bankruptcy law as huadpe suggests but, rather, is another option for companies in those states. It tends to be a more streamlined approach than bankruptcy.

  15. cashmerewhore says:

    @PoleMan14:

    Please let me know what your luck with Chase is, I had tickets booked for August travel that I need to get a refund for, and I’m in class ’til 3:50pm today. Maybe by then the calls will have died down some (I can only hope)?

    I’m in Columbus and earlier this week (Tuesday/Wednesday) they announced Skybus was going to be holding job fairs for flight attendants on the 9th and 25th (of April). Why make that announcement if you knew the company was going to cease operations by the end of the week?

    I’m upset, Jetblue pulled out of Port Columbus (IIRC) because of losing customers to Skybus, and Southwest isn’t always cheap here.

  16. abbyleigh says:

    What about if you paid with a debit card?
    Skybus is not really issuing refunds according to their website. The credit card company’s are the ones you are supposed to call to get this handled. But I paid with a debit card…and my bank is not going to take the hit on this for me…is Skybus liable to pay refunds even if it claiming bankruptcy? Is anyone else having this issue? I bank with Bank of America.

  17. jessicamorgan1 says:

    I paid for my tickets with a debit card, and talked to my bank about an hour ago. The woman I spoke with told me she would talk to her superiors on Monday about how to achieve my refund from Skybus, and I know that I cannot be the only person to have paid with a debit card rather than a credit card. I am extremely unfamiliar with this whole refund/bankruptcy/evil shady business situation, so does anyone know if I am also protected by the refund if my debit card has no “insurance” that a credit card would?

    I’m supposed to fly to New Orleans next week, and have talked to Southwest about standby. Its unfortunate that the actual company that is screwing its customers did not arrange for other travel, but I must commend Southwest, US Air and jetBlue. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be stranded in the middle of a trip right now.

  18. cashmerewhore says:

    @cashmerewhore:

    Got through to Chase and completed the dispute in less than five minutes. The rep I spoke with said she was located in Columbus and they were bombarded with calls yesterday. Refund should process in 72 hours, show up on the next statement or two and I’ll get a letter in the next week or so confirming this.

    All in all, that was easier than booking the flight when they announced the new dates in March. Now to figure out how to get to Boston cheap……

  19. Altdotweb says:

    I’m not a law expert, and I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do remember learning in economics class that:

    Most business closure laws have an exception that usually has an exemption, “If an employer was seeking capital to continue operating and making an imminent closure annoucement would negatively impact the securing of needed capital.”

    Sorry about the luck of the stranded, but the Skybus model was bound to fail. Skybus was only convenient if you lived near Columbus.

  20. daniinpa says:

    I am one of the passengers in the middle of a trip, and looking for any information I can find. I’ll be able to get back home thanks to help from family, but how do I get my original $200 back? I guess I’m going to have to do a charge-back because there is no way to contact Skybus for a refund.

    “Skybus is instructing slighted passengers to contact their credit card companies for a full refund.”

    I think that’s ridiculous, they should just refund it, I shouldn’t have to do a chargeback. Oh well whatever.

  21. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @humphrmi: If it got so bad that the company would literally ‘live or die’ based upon the decision of a creditor….then the higher ups definitely KNEW something was going to happen.

    I doubt the CEO and higher ups walked in, and the secretary said “Sir, Larry from XYZ called…..[insert bad news here]“

    CEO: “Well, that does it. We are ceasing operations. So sad…I never would have imagined this happening when I was driving to work this morning….”

    SkyBus knew it was in trouble, and should have had a contigency plan in place. Simply thinking that credit card companies will pick up the slack is wrong…I know credit card companies are evil…but it’s wrong.

    Something illegal had to have happened…someone just needs to investigate hard enough.

  22. cashmerewhore says:

    @daniinpa:

    Go here CMHInfo USAir and JetBlue are both offering standby tickets for Skybus flights (If you are in Columbus then Jetblue is not an option).

  23. Carencey says:

    @jessicamorgan1: This is one situation where credit cards are usually better than debit cards. In this situation, most if not all credit card issuers will complete the chargeback, but for debit cards, you are at the mercy of your bank, and the more recent the transaction, the better. It sounds like you might have a good one though. I’ve never heard of a debit card that carried travel insurance though.

  24. whitjm5 says:

    My aunt/cousin are stuck at my house as a result of this. We’re looking for an alternate way for them to get from Florida to Ohio before Wednesday. Good thing I like them. :)

  25. Amry says:

    I was supposed to fly Greensboro – Columbus today. Instead, as we were beginning the drive from Wilmington to Greensboro this morning, we got the news. My first thought was, crap, wish I could see what Consumerist is saying about this! Luckily, we were able to have someone make a one-way car rental reservation for us online and just ended up driving the rest of the way.

    Here’s the real travesty: when I first called Avis to find out if we could add on the one-way rental, they wanted to charge us an extra $600 beyond the originally quoted weekly rate. Instead, we reserved the one-way separately, and asked the girl at the rental counter if we could just keep the same car (she agreed) – all only for an extra $150! Way to be, Avis.

    Anyway – any ideas about how credit card companies are going to know what portion of the trip to refund? Will they require confirmations/receipts, do you think?

  26. weave says:

    Ah, that pic’s author’s copyleft states no alterations on their work.

    Funny pic alteration, regardless!

  27. LUV2CattleCall says:

    The airline announced last night that they done flying

    They done flying?

    @ecwis: Delta Commercial in Ebonics:

    [f0rked.com]

  28. JustAGuy2 says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010:

    You are very welcome to sue Skybus. Problem is, they’re what’s called “judgement-proof.” If someone doesn’t have anything, there’s no point in suing them, because you can’t GET anything.

  29. bukz68 says:

    Luckily the Skybus tanking didn’t affect me mid-trip but I bought a ticket 7 days ago for a flight in July. I understand that there comes a point where a company might become unable to render the services they’ve been paid for but this isn’t a problem that popped up overnight. Why the execs, who knew about an impending bankruptcy, would knowingly allow the company to continue (or be allowed to continue) taking money when they knew that they’re about to go belly up makes me very upset. I drove to CMH (Columbus, OH) on Friday to pick up my girlfriend and saw an ODOT message board that read “Attn Sky Bus Passengers. Please tune to (some number)AM for an important message” and thought to myself “That’s bizarre… I hope they didn’t go out of business or something.” Saturday morning I wake up and grabbed the paper and sure enough there was a large headline announcing Skybus’s failure. Needless to say I’m pretty upset about this whole thing but what are you going to do you kow?

  30. marcyayres says:

    i paid with a debit card too. my bank said skybus is refunding those who paid in cash/debit. their website says no such thing looks like we’re up shoot creek!

  31. Anonymous says:

    @humphrmi: I worked for an airline here in Ohio, when they closed they were required to give 3 MONTHS notice.

    You asked him to cite something, I’m not sure I can, but it’s called the WARN act.

  32. hi says:

    Bill Diffenderffer says “You just got Diffenderffered”.

    Why doesn’t the Fed just inject money into their company like all the banks going out of business? Bear Sterns and now Wamu just got 2 billion.

  33. hi says:

    @hi: oops my bad I meant 5 billion.

  34. President Beeblebrox says:

    Did we really think that an airline that sold $10 seats and flew into Columbus, Greensboro, and Wilmington, Delaware while NOT offering actual connecting flights was going to stay solvent? No dig on any of those cities, but their business model wasn’t exactly Southwest’s.

  35. gmugovt says:

    I bought 3 tickets for May with a check card in December. I called my bank and they said if it’s pass 60 days they cannot refund my money, I talked to the attorney general’s office, but they couldn’t help me either…Does any one have any ideas of how I could get my money back? Thanks!

  36. straightsolid20 says:

    I bought 4 tickets with my debit card through ING Direct bank. I made the claim within 60 days of my purchase but they are not refunding my money. Does anyone have anysuggestions on how to get my money back?

  37. EatonPurpureo says:

    Comment on What To Do If You Hold Skybus Tickets What about if you paid with a debit card?
    Skybus is not really issuing refunds according to their website. The
    credit card company’s are the ones you are supposed to call to get
    this handled. But I paid with a debit card…and my bank is not going
    to take the hit on this for me…is Skybus liable to pay refunds even
    if it claiming bankruptcy? Is anyone else having this issue? I bank
    with Bank of America.