JetAmerica goes bust

That was quick. In less than two months after opening shop for business, Jet Airways JetAmerica has decided it can’t take people from Toledo to points beyond after all. The end of May the airlines had started selling tickets to places like Melbourne, Florida, Lansing, Michigan and South Bend, Indiana with plans to expand to Newark, New Jersey and more. The airlines was to start flying this month.

Unfortunately, the okay for the route to Newark was taking longer than the airlines could withstand, so people are getting refunds. That’s according to what I’ve gathered from this article summarizing the situation in NYC Aviation.

The CEO said that the airlines hasn’t totally bitten the dust and is looking into other possible markets. Regardless, those people counting on Jet Airways JetAmerica cheap seats out of Toledo to Florida this winter are out of luck. If you’ve been to Toledo in the winter, you can see why this is a real shame.

At least the airlines didn’t pull a Skybus stunt by taking them to their destination and leaving them there or ruining honeymoon plans.

JetAmerica, new Ohio-based budget airline launched today

When Skybus folded last year, there were rumblings that it might resurrect but in another form. JetAmerica, a new budget airlines has just launched in Toledo. Is Skybus rising like a phoenix from the ashes? Like Skybus, JetAmerica is borrowing some of Ryanair’s strategies but unlike Columbus’s defunct airline that left behind a hole in airline service and oodles of bills is hoping to avoid Skybus’s folly.

From the description in this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there is a similarity that is close to what we’ve heard before except one number has been switched for another. Instead of ten $10 one-way seats on each flight, a hallmark of Skybus’s glory days, JetAmerica flights will have nine seats for $9. I hope 9 is a luckier number.

Instead of looking to Columbus for its start, Toledo was picked as a hub because the airport is no longer served by a major carrier ever since Continental pulled the plug on Toledo service last fall.

The addition of JetAmerica to the Toledo skies is welcome news. First off, people won’t have to go to Cleveland to catch a plane and the hope is that the airlines will attract more business which will help perk up Toledo’s economy.

People who live in Lansing, Michigan and South Bend, Indiana and Melbourne, Florida will also benefit from JetAmerica’s venture since they are part of the initial route set-up, as is Newark, New Jersey.

The only way I see JetAmerica working is if there is a real person on the phone for customer service questions, the flights aren’t canceled due to aircraft troubles, thus leaving people stranded because the airline doesn’t have a relationship with any others, and if the other seats’ costs are not as low or as high as Skybus’s were.

As a person who rode on Skybus once, but had plans for future flights, particularly to Newburgh, New York until the airline dissed me, buying tickets felt like some sort of strange game show. Like if I wait, will I get those $10 seats?

On a note that makes me feel hopeful that this time a budget airline launched in Ohio will succeed, JetAmerica’s first two airplanes, 737-800s are to be leased from Miami Air International until it’s clear that the airline will be a success. The flight crew will also be provided. Also, non-stop service from smaller cities is something I do think people will pay for. Tom Barlow, my good friend over at Wallet Pop has his own opinions about JetAmerica and offers more details about the business end of how this airline will work. I have my fingers crossed since Columbus is on the list for future possibilities. I’m hoping for that inexpensive non-stop to Newburgh.

Flights don’t begin until July 13, but you can book now.

Looking back at ’08 – 5 things no longer with us

We lost quite a bit in 2008. Several old banks are gone, the value of your house is probably gone, and in the world of travel several things disappeared for good as well.

I’ve listed 5 things no longer with us as we head into the new year. Come back in a few days to read my list of 5 things we gained in 2008, and keep your fingers crossed that things pick up a bit in 2009!

Aloha Airlines

In 2008, almost 80 airlines went bankrupt. I’m sure most of you were not too upset when Swazi Express Airways stopped flying, but one of the more popular airlines we lost was Aloha Airlines.

Aloha had been flying between the islands and the mainland since 1946, but 2008 would become their final year. As usual, rising fuel costs were cited as one of the main reasons they could not survive.

Another, probably more important reason for their demise, was an intense price war that broke out between Aloha and GO!. GO! started offering inter island flights to local residents for as little as $15.

In an ironic twist of events, the very airline that contributed to the collapse of Aloha has managed to purchase their name and will be renaming themselves “Aloha” next year.


Skybus Airlines

Airlines come, and airlines go. But seldom does this happen as fast as with Skybus. Skybus started operating out of Columbus, Ohio in May of 2007, and by April of 2008 it was grounded. The airline had set itself up like many European carriers, with flights to smaller secondary airports, a flexible pricing system and even forced people to dispose of all food and beverages before boarding the plane.

Once on board, food, beverages, snacks and pillows were sold, and 10% of the revenue became salary for the flight attendants.

The concept obviously looked good on paper, but their timing was horrible, and passengers did not care for the total lack of service. Skybus never published a phone number, and all communications with the airline had to be made through email.

In the end, their business model clashed with rising fuel prices, and the airline went under, stranding 1000’s of people at various airports around the country.


Free baggage allowance

Of all the perks the airlines took away from us in recent years, this is the one that is bound to hurt the most. I survived the removal of pretzels, I managed to deal with a 4 hour flight without a pillow, but forcing people to pay for their checked luggage is just cruel.

Of course, the natural effect this is having on passengers and their bags, is that people are now carrying more than ever on board the plane. The airlines still have a tad of compassion left, as their elite travelers are currently exempt from these new money making measures.


Berlin Tempelhof Airport

I’m sure more airports closed in 2008, but none of them were as important to aviation history as Berlin Tempelhof. The airport closed on October 30th, and will make way for a single Berlin Airport which is scheduled to open in 2011.

Tempelhof played a very important role in German aviation history, and was the home of Lufthansa for many years. Of course, the war transformed the airport, and the massive terminal building at Tempelhof was one of many buildings Hitler commissioned for the city. After the war, Tempelhof played a pivotal role in supplying food and other supplies during the Berlin Airlift.


The 2008 Chinese Olympics

The buildup to the Chinese Olympics was filled with scandals, anticipation and a lot of worrying.

In the end, the games went pretty much like clockwork. It’s always a little sad when such a long wait for something is over in just 2 weeks. The Chinese put on one heck of a show, in some of the most impressive sporting venues the world has ever seen.

Like with most Olympic events, before the games start, there is always a ton of bad news, rumors about incomplete facilities and some corruption scandals, but he Chinese managed to prove everyone wrong, and gave the world a great show as well as a nice view into their culture.

AirTran Airways to come to Columbus. It’s not Skybus, thankfully.

Yesterday’s news brought the welcome breath of new life to Columbus ever since Skybus did us wrong, jilting us like an uncaring, unfeeling lover.

I heard in a radio news broadcast that AirTran Airways will begin flights between Columbus and Atlanta, Fort Myers and Orlando starting November 6. As the news commentator noted, this does not mean there will be a rush on low cost airlines to Columbus. Jet Blue, for example, has been there and done that.

Still, when I think of how Jet Blue used to be here before Skybus RUINED IT, I feel like Kate Winslet, almost frozen to death, floating on that piece of wood after the Titanic sank, hoarsely crying out, “Come back. Come back.”

I’m glad that AirTran has noticed that Columbus is a viable market for folks going to Florida. If you’ve ever been in Columbus, Ohio between January and April, you’ll know why folks are eager to get out of here and head south. The gray skies make this a place to leave if ever the chance arises.

If only AirTran wasn’t bailing out of Newburgh, New York and would make that a Columbus connection as well, I’d be ever so thrilled.

According to this article in the Columbus Dispatch, AirTran has been one of the best managed airlines in the past nine years. Skybus was exactly the OPPOSITE. I’m still stinging from the break-up.

Enjoy drinks on a flight? It’s going to cost you

While you’re saving for your day of air travel, keep a few dollars tucked into your wallet. You’ll need them if you don’t want to be sucking like a guppy out of a fish bowl when you get to your destination.

The latest trend in the pay-as-you-go flight experience is to charge for drinks. So far, credit cards won’t cut it. It’s cash only.

On August 1, U.S. Airways will start charging $2 for soda, water, tea, juice and coffee and up the cost for alcoholic beverages from $5 to $7 to passengers flying economy class.

Oh, woe is me. There goes my “Could I have an orange juice, club soda AND coffee?” routine. As trends go, considering carriers have jumped on the charge for all checked bags scenario, I expect the drink charges will also follow suit.

Just great. I’ve been on this kind of flight before. It was called SkyBus, and we know how that airline turned out. We flew to Seattle from Columbus. Since our flights cost $330 a piece already, we didn’t spring for the drinks until the flight back. Then it was one tea and an orange juice. A few months later, on a Delta flight to California, I thought how hospitable it felt to be given something to drink. I even sprang for the wine.

It may not seem like a big deal to have to pay for drinks on a flight, but personally, with airlines acting like they are relatives to a discount grocery store, the kind that just opens cardboard boxes up to save on shelving costs, whatever excitement there was taking a flight is now gone. People shop at grocery stores where food is artfully displayed, partly for the experience.

Where drinks are concerned, particularly since you can’t take liquids through TSA and airport prices are expensive, I’d rather have $5 tacked to the price of a ticket and let me think I’m being treated like a welcome guest. Would you let guests come to your house and not even offer them water, particularly on a day when it’s 90 degrees outside?

I wonder if this coffee pictured here on my last flight from San Diego to Columbus was my last free drink? If I had known, I would have savored it more. As the trends are going, I’d rather take Greyhound for anything that will take me just a day to get there. [Read Washington Post article]