Skybus is, as the Columbus Dispatch describes it, wheels up. The departure of its first flights Tuesday marks the U.S. debut of truly ultra-no-frills European-style air travel in the United States.
When I blogged about Skybus last month, I criticized three of the new airline’s policies. Two of them – forbidding passengers to bring food on board and selling the right to board early for the best seats – are pure money grabs, extorting money out of passengers to offset the low fares. The third – refusing to provide a phone number for customer service – is an unacceptable cost-cutting strategy that’s bound to implode in the first weather meltdown.
These policies alarm me not so much because Skybus has implemented them, but because the major airlines may try to copy them in order to compete.
The reactions to that entry were interesting. Mainly, people who were delighted by the low fares were offended by the idea that anyone would object to them.
So, for the record, I don’t object to the low fares. I believe Skybus could reverse those three policies and still offer low fares. All the other trade-offs – paying for checked luggage, using stairs instead of jetways, extraordinarily tight seating – are cutbacks that seem tolerable. (Rob Lovitt laid the whole deal out cogently on MSNBC.com.)
And, not to put too fine a point on this, but some readers seemed to miss my point on the food. I don’t object to the airline not feeding the customers. I object to the airline not allowing passengers to bring their own food, and then charging $10 for a sandwich. That’s the same crap that movie theaters and theme parks pull so that they can sell me an overpriced bucket of indigestion, and I’ve always objected to it.
Anyway, there are a lot of views on this, and they’re all welcome here. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s flown Skybus.
Added 5/26: Here’s a first-person account from an ABC News reporter.