The Super Cheap Airline Ticket

If you're looking for a cheap way to take your family on vacation this summer, there may be a new way to go. As CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports, you just have to be willing to ride the bus.

Flying can already feel like a bus trip in the sky – at least now an airline is admitting it.

Skybus Airlines launched its first flights this week, promising super cheap seats on brand-new aircraft.

The hook: ten seats on every Skybus flight will be sold for $10 forever.

The carrier insists it's not just a promotion.

Skybus flies to smaller airports on both coasts like Burbank, California, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Every flight starts or ends in Columbus, Ohio.

"I'm flying to Columbus, renting a car and driving to Cleveland and saving a thousand dollars," one early Skybus passenger said.

Those really cheap seats can be hard to find. When CBS News tried to get them, the first $10 ticket from Portsmouth to Columbus wasn't available until October 10th.

We couldn't find any tickets for less than $50 between now and Thanksgiving from the Bay Area to Ohio. Still, $50 is pretty cheap.

All reservations are made online, and there's no phone number to call for help.

Inconvenient? Yes.

But Skybus bets you'll put up with it for the low fares.

"We're tapping into a market that's simply staying at home," said Skybus's Josh Flyr. "So if you want to know who the Skybus competition is, Skybus' competition is the couch, and the car and the bus."

Following the lead of European super-discounter Ryan Air, Skybus will try anything to make money.

If you get to the airport less than 30 minutes before takeoff, the ticket counter will be empty, as the people who work there also have to help board the plane. Even the planes are for rent as flying billboards.

And by the way, you can't bring your own food on board, but the flight attendants will happily sell some to you: they get a commission.

"It's kind of like going into a movie where you have to buy their popcorn and cokes and stuff like that," airline industry analyst Darryl Jenkins said. "Whether that's going to be enough to make that a success in the United States, I don't know."

Expect big name carriers to watch the new entry's take-off carefully as they decide whether to play catch-up in the super-low fare game. Or they risk missing the bus.
  • James Klatell

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