Shut up and fly: Super cheap airfare may be the wave of the future

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Skybus has just started offering service out of Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport. One flight per day to Columbus, Ohio. In just an hour, you’ll get there while squeezed in like a sardine and no frills. And I mean none.

The Skybus strategy goes like this: Stuff as many people as you can into one airplane and just get them there. Offer really low prices, and consumers won’t care. There are 144 to 156 seats available on each flight. 10 of them are sold for $10 each. The rest are sold at higher prices, but are relatively cheap compared to other carriers. Seating is three wide on each side, and the seats are unassigned, so expect a cattle call and a mad dash to get the best seats.

Want to check a bag or two? $5 please.

Want something to drink? $2 for a soda.

Need something to eat? A relatively putrid “cheese plate” is available for $8.

Flights are only sold online at the Skybus site. You can’t buy them at the airport, and they’re not offered on sites like Travelocity. Flight attendants wear t-shirts instead of traditional uniforms, and they’re paid a commission on every “extra” they sell on the flight. That’s why the flight is turned into a mall in the air, with flight attendants selling all sorts of odds and ends to passengers.

The company increases revenue by having advertisers “sponsor” the flights, and they will soon be selling advertising space on the overhead bins and seat backs.

Welcome aboard the no-service airline…

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