Fuel Prices Force Southern Skyways To Abandon Flights

Brian writes in to let us know that Southern Skyways has fallen partially victim to soaring fuel costs:

It seems the fuel prices are about to consume another airline. We are taking our daughter to Disney in June, the first time for any of us. We booked 3 round-trip tickets on Southern Skyways back in March for our trip.

I started getting very nervous when a few airlines went bust out West, then I really started to sweat when SkyBus went SkyBust, but I had started to get a little more comfortable as of late. I guess I should have known, as today I received this e-mail from Southern Skyways “Customer Service” explaining that they no longer intend to serve me as a customer.

Here’s the email Brian received from Southern Skyways:

Dear Southern Skyways passenger:

Everyone is very aware of the constant rise in the price of fuel. Oil is now over $125 a barrel and aviation fuel is over $4 per gallon and increasing every day. Given the rise in fuel prices Southern Skyways will be unable to operate flights from/to either Charleston, WV or Orlando-Sanford, FL this summer.

We fully understand that this is an inconvenience in your travel plans and that other arrangements will be needed for travel to Orlando from Charleston or to Charleston from Orlando. We recommend that you contact Allegiant Air for which has service at the Huntington Airport.There fares are competitive with ours. While a short drive is required, Allegiant Air’s schedule operates flights on many of the same days you were scheduled to travel. Seats are available, but limited, on most flights and you should be able to find a suitable schedule for your trip.

You may check schedules for flights online at http://www.allegiantair.com.

Southern Skyways will automatically process a full refund which will be credited to your account. This process normally takes up to one week for the credit to appear. All passenger funds are held in an escrow account for your protection in accordance with federal regulations so you can be certain of a refund.

Again we apologize for this necessary action. The price of fuel has exceeded all expectations not only for us in the airline industry but for everyone at the gas pump everywhere. Your patronage is appreciated.

Southern Skyways
Customer Service

Brian adds,

I’m at least in the good fortune to have almost a month to plan alternative transportation, but what about those who were getting ready to leave? These people advertised and touted their low fares and direct flights to Orlando since the beginning of the year trying to attract customers away from the larger airports, and now they are hanging all those passengers out to dry.

Another airline headed for the inevitable. So sad.

Comments

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  1. Truvill says:

    Was this really “inevitable” though, as he put it?

  2. Serpephone says:

    another one bites the dust…

  3. Shappie says:

    So, how long until some of the more major airlines start doing something? Besides fuel surchages, higher rates, more for extra baggage…

  4. JustThatGuy3 says:

    The fact that the authors of the the airline’s official documents don’t know the difference between “there” and “their” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

  5. Why would you want to leave WV for FL? That’s insanity.

    /native FL

  6. Kajj says:

    At least they recommended a few alternatives. So when are we getting some bullet trains in this country?

  7. zero_o says:

    I just want to know how long did you work on the “skybus” = “skybust” … clever

  8. Rojma says:

    You’re better off not going to Orlando in June. I lived in Orlando for 6 years and June-August is unbearable. It is extermely hot and humid, plus the crowds and lines are really bad. Best times to go are early November, early December, and mid January to mid February. Weather is great, cool, and not humid. Additionally, there are less crowds and lines. Trust me…

  9. jamesdenver says:

    I know its not the Consumer’s fault – but its a lesson. If you’re going to invest time, money, and most of all memories (your kid’s,) by all means DON’T settle for the cheapest bottom of the basement rock bottom airfare. Period.

    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?

  10. god_forbids says:

    @jamesdenver: Isn’t the Nanny State supposed to have circumvented natural selection by assuring the Stupid and Cheapskates that their purchases, too, are perfect substitutes for planning ahead or using their brains?

  11. Orv says:

    @jamesdenver: I’m not convinced going with a more expensive airline makes a difference. Southwest is a discount carrier but they’ve been having fewer financial problems than the more expensive legacy airlines. I think air travel is a commodity and there’s no real reason to shop on anything but price.

  12. Lambasted says:

    Never heard of them but it’s a shame to see another low cost carrier go the way of the dodo bird. I dare to imagine the fuel crunch the transportation industry must be feeling.

    I really don’t see how our economy is going to maintain itself with astronomical fuel prices as they are. A new administration cannot come fast enough. Not saying it will be the answer but nothing can be worse than the damage this administration has caused.

  13. MFfan310 says:

    Southern Skyways wasn’t even a “real” airline to begin with. They were a pubilc charter company that chartered planes from other airlines such as Primaris Airlines and Swift Jet and resold the seats under their name.

  14. KarmaChameleon says:

    @Rojma: The best trip to Disney World I ever went on, I did in August when it was miserable. The key is in the way you plan your schedule. The ‘rents and I stayed at the Dolphin hotel, and one of the perks of staying on property is you can get in the parks an hour early. We would get up early and hit all the big rides in the morning, then when it started to get hot and crowded around noon, we’d head back to the hotel for lunch/swimming/naps/etc. After sundown, we’d head back to the park to head to the attractions we missed in the morning and see whatever parade/light show/whatever was going on. That way, we beat the crowds and the heat. We had an awesome time, too. It’s the only way I ever do it if I’m going during peak season.

    As an aside, I would never do Disney World without staying on property. Price is no longer the barrier it was years ago when all they had was the Big Three hotels (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and that pug fugly one the monorail goes through that I can never remember the name of. The Contemporary?). They’ve got a number of cheap ass hotels there now that are actually pretty nice.

  15. shanerz says:

    Never mind the horrible grammar…

  16. trujunglist says:

    @jamesdenver:

    I’d take the lowest bid if there was a stipulation in the contract that for every day over the project deadline that work was needed to be done in order to complete the project they had to say, pay me $1,000,000. California knows how to roll when it comes to low bidding.

  17. bkpatt says:

    I’m Brian in the story, so I’ll clarify a few points that came up in the comments:

    @Ash78: Only for Disney, and only for a week for the kiddo. WV Rocks.

    @Kajj: Their alternative offer was nice, however they didn’t try to help with the transition, and the day I got the e-mail, rates on Allegiant increased by 25% or more, just another “screw the consumer” move. I know because I checked Allegiant regularly as they were my other “direct” option.

    @Rojma: Wife is a teacher, we vacation in June, July, or August, it’s pretty much a given.

    @jamesdenver: I’m certainly not cheap when it comes to memories or vacations, but I like to be efficient when traveling with a 5 year old. Southern is the only way to fly direct to Orlando from Charleston, that is why they were picked, not solely based on price. If I don’t fly out of Charleston, I have 3+ hours to Columbus/Cincy/PGH (plus parking and the drive home after flying) to fly direct, or I lug through airports/connections with a kid and pray my luggage gets to my destination when I do.

    @KarmaChameleon: You described our plan to a tee, and exactly why we are staying on property.

    Regarding alternative plans… we have pretty much decided to drive it at this point, and leave Friday night so our daughter can sleep a good bit of the drive, and we are going to Cocoa Beach on Saturday and Sunday before Disney. Essentially, we added 2 days to our vacation we hadn’t planned on. The drive will be rough, but we’ll make the best of it, and the beach addition will be fun.

    I still feel for the ones who were traveling much sooner than I. It’s expensive to fly out of here no matter how early you book, much less last minute. So they are either paying significantly more for longer flights with more connections, or they are going to an airport elsewhere, which means additional travel.

    What I “left out” of the original e-mail was that we were already charged a “Fuel Surcharge” as defined in the contract based on a % of our tickets. It’s not like we “duped” them and booked early for dirt cheap tickets and are mad we weren’t able to screw them. We paid a hefty surcharge already over the ticket price to make up for the fuel prices, and it’s still not enough? If Southern can’t accurately price out their product, then yes… their demise is inevitable.

  18. WVCouch says:

    First, I go every year to Orlando….Mother in Law’s home. I live north of Charleston WV about an hour and a half.

    We used to fly, before the kids came. Used Columbus, Charleston, Parkersburg and even Akron Canton.

    Then, 1 + 1 became 3. Then 4. Now we….god forbid….drive.

    It is a 15 hour trip. We break it down to two very easy travel days. First stop is in SC. Nice dinner, movie, nice hotel, breakfast, then on the road.

    For Four, flights can run over 250pp. Over 1K roundtrip and add to that a rental car for a week, 200++, (can the fees in Orlando on Rental Cars get any higher??) So, we are at 1,200+. Fuel down and back, 400. Hotels 250, we have to eat where ever we are, so that is a wash.

    But, Being in Control of my travel….PRICELESS. How many times do I need to be stranded and delayed? How many times do I need rerouted, screwed, and treated as cattle before I say chuck it.

    Flying is great if you have no choice. My limit is 600 miles per day, about 10 hours driving. So, leave at 8 am and stop at 6pm. Dinner, movie, hotel, and I am very happy.

    LOW STRESS as well.

  19. mmcnary says:

    I like to start my first day of driving very early, like 2-3 am. That way I’m out of the city before rush hour, we can stop for breakfast when the kids wake up around 6-7. I usually catch a power nap when we stop for lunch (usually near a park so the kids can run off a little energy). Then another 3-4 hour stint of driving that puts us into a hotel at 5-6 pm. Kids in the pool, pizza delivery to the hotel and an early bedtime for dad.

    Subsequent days of driving are 8 am till 6 pm with breaks as needed, and the day’s drive is calculated with Streets and Trips and hotel reservations already made.

    There’s just something about starting the trip so early in the morning that makes it special. Everything’s so quiet, there’s no traffic, it’s as if those few first hours just fly by, and seeing the sunrise knowing you don’t have to go to work today really seals the deal…

  20. aidenn says:

    Also, there is a difference between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and where that letter is claiming to fly him into, Orlando-Sanford (SFB). Whenever you fly into one of the smaller airports here (Daytona Beach, Orlando-Sanford) you’re already paying a higher premium than flying into MCO.

    I can see why so many of the airlines are pulling out of these tiny airports. Our small airports are fast becoming sparse.