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Columbus, Ohio, for $10?!

Andrea Sachs

Got $10 to spare? If so, and you don't mind driving to Richmond, you can fly to Columbus, Ohio, on Skybus, a new low-fare carrier that recently started service between the Old Dominion and the Buckeye State.

On every flight, the carrier sells 10 seats for $10 (not including taxes) -- whether you are flying from Richmond to Columbus, or Columbus to San Diego. Obviously, the cheap seats are competitive (sign up for Skybus Emails for alerts); however, the "non-cheap" seats are hardly stratospheric. Earlier this week, I trucked down to Richmond and flew for $70 round trip to Columbus.

I expected the plane to be in shambles, an airborne version of the Chinatown bus. How wrong I was. The plane had a touch of business class, with nice gray leather seats and substanial buffer space between passengers. I struck up a converation with the man behind me, who was drinking a beer before most people have even had their morning coffee. He said he has flown Skybus nearly 10 times and commented that the burly men in the back of the 'bus, who repair water slides in Ohio malls and theme parks, use the carrier as others do Metro.

But the passengers aren't the only curiosity. The flight attendants are equally worthy of whispers. To put it bluntly, I think for many of them, this is their first post-college job. They are young and chirpy, some with Paris Hilton hair, others with a punk rock mix of red and black. More surprising was that one of the flight attendants told me what her salary was ($9 an hour, less than the cost of the flight -- I smell irony). To pad their paychecks, they receive a commission on the food, drinks and products they sell. (No outside food or beverages are allowed on the plane.) Indeed, I was almost tempted to buy an airplane-shape kiddie backpack, which two staffers were modeling down the aisle, just so they could afford their hair salon appointments.

The downside of the QVC environment is that the cabin smells like a Macy's perfume counter manned by overzealous spritzers. At 6:30 a.m., I want breakfast scents, not Euphoria. However, if I fly Skybus again, I know that with what I save on airfare, I can spend on nose plugs. A fair trade-off.

Anyone else tried Skybus out? Share your experiences here. And then, to read more about my travels on Skybus and in Columbus, check out the Escapes column in next Wednesday's Style section.

By Andrea Sachs |  September 28, 2007; 10:45 AM ET  | Category:  Air Travel , Airline Industry , Andrea Sachs
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I can drive to columbus in 6.5 hours.

I can see being excited about this if I lived in Richmond or south, but from DC I am not sure it makes much sense.

Posted by: SeanT | September 28, 2007 6:16 PM

Me and my lady do the Columbus (CMH) and the BWI thing every two weeks. Well, at least she does. If we plan right, and we usually do, we can get Southwest for a low of $118.80 and a high of $138.00, throughout the entire year, that includes desired schedules.

Posted by: lhw | October 3, 2007 2:50 PM

What can they do if you bring unauthorized food or beverages on board? They can't throw you off the plane in the middle of the flight. And it doesn't violate any law.

Posted by: Dominick | October 4, 2007 3:21 PM

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