July 24, 2007

Skybus Problem

As I see it the problem with Skybus is that there are no direct flights. Now add the fact you have to connect through Columbus where there are no other airlines. Here is a story from the Seacoastonline that drive this point home:

Skybus 'nightmare' sours local family

By Shir Haberman

Years ago, at the end of a commercial for Yuban coffee, an old geezer with the solid Yankee name of John Arbuckle would somberly intone, "You get what you pay for." For the Hunter family of Stratham, the lower fares and close airport proximity that Skybus Airlines offers are not worth the anxiety, frustration and anger they went through when the airline canceled a scheduled flight to Portsmouth last Thursday.

Hilda Hunter was supposed to be on that flight, and what went on due to that cancellation is indelibly etched in the minds of her family. "It was a nightmare," said Nancy Hunter, the 75-year-old Cincinnati woman's daughter-in-law. Hilda was among the 144 passengers scheduled to take off on the two-hour evening flight from Port Columbus, Ohio, to Portsmouth International Airport on July 19. Fog along the Seacoast that night first delayed take-off from Columbus, then forced the flight to land at Bradley Airport in Hartford, Conn.

The passengers were held on the plane without access to their luggage at Bradley for several hours until the airline made the decision to have the flight return to Columbus. The plane landed in Columbus at 5 a.m. on Friday, and those passengers who wished to continue to fly with Skybus were booked on an extra flight scheduled to take off for Pease at 8 p.m. Friday night. The scheduled two-hour trip wound up taking about 28 hours. Hilda Hunter's flight landed around midnight on Friday. While delays and cancellations are common in the airline industry, the problems created were exacerbated by Skybus' limited information network and nonexistent backup infrastructure.

"When they got back to Columbus, there was nobody to communicate what was happening," Nancy Hunter said. "The airline didn't offer the passengers anything — not a cup of coffee or something to eat. They were just told to sit and wait. "And there was nobody at Pease," Hunter said.

Skybus spokesman Bob Tenenbaum called what happened to Skybus' Portsmouth flight on Thursday "the perfect storm." He said it was a combination of bad weather and an inoperable flight tracking system that the company has been working on for months that would have allowed those waiting for the flight here in the Northeast to know its status. "The concerns (of people like the Hunters) are legitimate," Tenenbaum said. "There is supposed to be a flight status update system on the Skybus Web site, but it is not working properly."

Tenenbaum said the decision to have the flight return to Columbus was made to accommodate the majority of the people on the flight. "At least half the people were from the Columbus area," he said. "It was better for them to come back to a place where there were Skybus people who could help them then be dropped off at an airport where they were not supposed to be." However, there were some passengers aboard the flight who felt the problems on Thursday were systemic.

"They had no Plan B," Linda Cargill of Canal Winchester, Ohio, told The Columbus Dispatch. "It was kind of one of those things where you keep thinking, 'I'm just going to wake up and this will all be a dream.'" As for the Hunters, this experience has soured them on Skybus. "We have friends who bought Skybus tickets for December," Nancy Hunter said. "I'm worried for them. "God forbid, there's (bad) weather," she said. "They're up the creek."

Hunter said her mother-in-law will never fly Skybus again, nor will any other member of her family. "They lost not only my mother, they lost me and my husband, and he has told all the people at Osram, where he works, about it," she said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry what do you mean "no other airlines in Columbus?" I think you mean no other flights to Worcester from Columbus.

Unlike Worcester, Columbus is served by 12 airlines (18 if you include the commuter affiliates).