Stung by Skybus

Four Hoggards are holding now-worthless tickets to whatever airport that now-bankrupted airline Skybus touted as being close to New York City.  We were to have traveled up there in September along with some friends to gawk at skyscrapers and take in a show or two over Labor Day weekend.  Total roundtrip fare for four: $400 and change.  Sounded like a helluva deal at the time.

It sounded even better once we experienced and tolerated Skybus’s quirkiness just last week.  They were our carrier of choice for a very pleasant and inexpensive trip to and from Punta Gorda (aka Ft. Myers, Fl - in Skybus lingo) during our kids’ spring break.

Now I’m thinking about sending our worthless tickets to Ben Bernanke for a personal bail-out.  (thanks to neighbor Bruce for the idea)  Since the Fed is currently all about protecting financial entities from losses due to unforseen market forces, the financial entity known as the Hoggard family could really use that $400.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted April 6, 2008 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    My sisters and I are going to NYC in July because one of us has a birthday ending in a “0″. My local sister and I spent two days agonizing over spending $350/each on a major airline or doing the Skybus thing and getting to Manhattan from sorta “upstate” (which is what NYers call anything at least 10 miles north of the city). We finally decided to go with brand-name airline and now I’m glad we did.

    Our decision was based on trying to get a rental car in Newburgh at NYC’s rush-hour time and having done that for a while years ago, we decided it wasn’t worth the effort. When Skybus got better local transportation, like a bus to Port Authority or something, we’d go for the savings.

    Good. decision.

  2. Posted April 6, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Maybe some of the incentives promised to Skybus should be used to refund tickets.

  3. hugh
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Take it out of Scott Yost’s hide. His Rhino article a couple of weeks ago mocking the $10/seat airline surely drove it to it’s demise!

  4. Posted April 6, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bundle of Joy #2 had already paid for the tickets for his priest to fly from here to Florida in July to perform his wedding. Fortunately he’s got some lead time. I feel for those who don’t.

  5. Posted April 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    To say nothing of the now-jobless pilots and other employees ….

  6. Posted April 6, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    David, I hope you are able to get your money back. And I agree with Sue. Newburgh is pretty far north of the city, and the roads leading into the city from there are fairly tough to traverse. You may have been spared a fairly “memorable” experience.

    I am attending a conference in New York in the near future and staying with my mom. I deliberately refrained from using the Skybus flight to Newburgh because the transfer to the city (and my mom’s house) would be too laborious, prolonged and inconvenient.

  7. Posted April 6, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Roch, am not sure but think those incentives were offsets against future stuff and not cash paid up front. That said, saying “go to your credit card company for a refund” is ludicrous but if you can’t pay pilots, then I guess you can’t pay CSRs to answer the phone and explain what’s going to happen. But their web site sentence?

    “More information for customers and others will be made available on the Skybus web site (www.skybus.com) as it becomes available.”

    That’s truly lamentable. Are there no Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 requirements for ticketholders as creditors? (Although, having had a client who went into Chapter 7, my company’s status as a creditor was absolutely nil. The employees came first and stood alongside banks and other “big guys.”) We didn’t even get first pick on equipment and other stuff to be sold. They offered us stuff no one would want like broken file cabinets…

    A small business can hardly afford a “few thousand dollars” as a write-off to a bad debt. Neither can consumers.

  8. Posted April 6, 2008 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    david maybe you could try e bay, hell if a frosted flake in the shape of Illinois can sell on e bay maybe a ticket from a bankrupt
    airline could be a collector item for a airline collector

  9. Posted April 6, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Sue wrote: “Roch, am not sure but think those incentives were offsets against future stuff and not cash paid up front.”

    It was a mix that included $250,000 appropriated to marketing and millions in “passenger incentives.”

  10. Posted April 7, 2008 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Roch,
    Have you been able to confirm if that $250,000 (or any actual monies) have been paid out at this point?

  11. Posted April 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    This completely sucks for the many folks who are stuck someplace unfamiliar. People are very vulnerable when traveling and it is a crime to take advantage of them. I hope that the executives over at Skybus end up before a Senate Hearing this fall!

    http://www.ihateskybus.com

  12. Posted April 7, 2008 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    David,

    With Skybus my family enjoyed countless visits with each other in an all too short timeframe. Their four flights a day between Greensboro, NC and Portsmouth, NH was an absolute blessing for us all and we took full advantage of this opportunity. I was on the Skybus web site booking more of these flights when the page refreshed to their now current ‘Out of Business’ page. I captured this information and quickly posted it onto my blog and begun searching to verify this news. About five minutes after my blog post, the news hit the Columbus, OH newspaper web site and shortly thereafter it was all over the 24 hour news stations and other news web sites.

    The good news was I was not in transit with Skybus during this time. The bad news is that I’m holding several hundred dollars of tickets for flights that will never fly! Late Friday evening I was on the phone with my credit card company and much to my surprise, they were well aware of this news and had already implemented plans to deal with the calls they were beginning to receive. Because of the nature of the credit card I used to pay for these tickets and the fact that I pay an annual service (membership) fee, I have already received credit for nearly all of the Skybus purchases I am holding. I don’t know what other credit card or bank card companies are doing (if anything) for their customers regarding refunds but in my case, I’m coming away from this ordeal almost financially whole. Personally, I would rather be a passenger then a paper-fairy filing out all sorts of forms but a little time investment has already paid dividends. I can only hope that my other Skybus flight buddies are as fortunate as I have become in dealing with this mess.

    In speaking with my credit card representative, she told me that they have ‘set aside’ funds to reimburse their customers when dealing with large companies who go belly-up. I guess the annual fee that I pay for the privilege of having this credit card has become worth every penny spent. Good luck on getting refunded for your un-used Skybus tickets and be persistent with your credit card company and their specific policies when making a refund claim.

  13. Posted April 8, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I am heading to a good friend’s wedding in Ft. Myer’s at the end of April and now am out my two tickets as are a lot of the guests flying down there. My flying companion and I rebooked but at a price increase of $340 or so. She is currently in the midsts of trying to get her money back from her credit card company, but I’m not sure how well it’s going.

  14. Posted April 9, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    FYI…
    In researching the Skybus fall-out the major concen passangers are having is regarding refunds for the future un-used tickets they are holding. Grap a look at this web page from MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24002314/.

    Key statement within this article is, “Tom Gallagher of the Better Business Bureau says, “They’re used to this, they’re good at this and they will help you out.” When you get an operator ask for the dispute department and then explain the situation. They’ll send you paperwork and Gallagher says as long as you have proof of the ticket you should get your money back.”

  15. Jan
    Posted April 12, 2008 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    The airline industry is in crisis.

    The airline industry may be the only one that does not pass price increases on to the consumer. When the cost of oil increases, we pay more for gas at the pump. How can an airline survive when it costs more to fly a person from point A to point B than the consumer pays for a ticket? How can an airline survive when it is cheaper to fly than to drive? Even in deregulated, free-market economies, the law of economics requires that a company generate sufficient revenue to pay bills. And, we can’t blame labor because, in most cases, airline employees have taken significant pay cuts and lost pensions. Labor has nothing left to give.

    The situation with the airlines is only going to get worse because the deep-discount airlines come in and grab the profitable routes while the major carriers try to serve everybody. Getting to New York, DC, and London will never be a problem. However, who is going to get people from small midwest town A to small other midewest town B when those routes have so many empty seats? As the major carriers lose passengers on their profitable routes to the deep-discount carriers, they cannot afford to carry the debt associated with the unprofitable routes that are off the beaten path.

    It seems we all want the government to step in and protect us from risk but want a “hands off” government when profits roll in. We all like our $99 airline tickets (or $10 in the case of skybus). However, those discounted fares are nails in the coffin for the airlines. Haven’t we seen 3 or 4 go out of business in the last few weeks?

  16. Mr. True
    Posted June 11, 2008 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I hope you and all others get your money back, but I wish the entire planet would wake up and realize the fantasy of any low cost flight. If you or anyone else really believes that a multi-million dollar airplane, flown by a crew with a six figure salary, loaded with thousands of dollars of fuel, requiring an extensive network of support staff and mechanics can be done at the bargain fare of $49 round trip you are smoking the same crack that these crackpot executives who start these “low cost” airlines smoke.

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