Disclosure First: I fly almost 100,000 miles a year and 99% of those miles are business travel (After all that "on demand" travel, I just don't feel like leaving home for leisure). My opinion is unavoidably biased by this fact and what's important to me is shaped by the amount of time I spend on planes and in airports.
So, the Skybus flight? Overall Impression: Really Good. Surprisingly good, as a matter of fact.
Skybus has an easy to use website, which is the only way to book a flight and as a cost saving measure, they have no customer service number to call. All communication is conducted through the website. If you like to ask questions to a live person, this isn't the airline for you.
I booked my flight to Columbus five days before I was to travel. A flight to Cincinnati (my real destination) booked on the same day priced out at $998.50. The Skybus flight was $251.00 round trip, plus $5.00 to check one bag. I chose not to pay the $10.00 to upgrade to priority boarding status, a decision that wasn't easy. There weren't any $10.00 fares left for purchase for any date in June, but there were some $20.00 and $30.00 fares.
24 hours before departure, Skybus sent me an email reminder, telling me that on-line check in was now available. I clicked the link and checked in (including printing boarding passes) in less than 5 minutes. The website is intuitive and easy to navigate.
We left the house and I was standing at the bag check kiosk at Pease Airforce Base in 17 minutes. I waited three minutes for an agent to become available, handed her my boarding pass and ID. She scanned the bar code and checked my bag in less than a minute.
She directed me to security, where three people were ahead of me to clear security. (Skybus is the only commercial airline to operate out of this terminal; they have one gate, so it's logistically very easy--just so long as you don't want to grab a bite to eat while you wait for your plane. That's not an option.)
The Skybus gate doesn't have any where near enough seats. It also doesn't have near enough space for those not getting a seat to stand. It was cramped, awkward and far too warm.
The plane from Columbus landed at 9:00. It was deplaned and ready for boarding within about 15 minutes. The boarding process is cattle call, a la South West's process. First come, first served within each of the three boarding groups, but unlike SW, Skybus hasn't quite worked out the kinks of the cattle call. Some people in group one didn't realize where they should be and boarded with group three, but most people were very good natured.
I was seventh from last to board the plane, and I was pretty panicked by visions of middle seats next to screaming, cracker-throwing babies. No worries. I somehow snagged an exit row, aisle seat, with an empty middle seat. Sweet. The plane was clean, the seats were roomy.
We took off on time. We landed on time. In between, the flight crew tried to sell me water, food, sunglasses, chocolates and an electronic Sudoku game. The in-flight sales pitch was the only part of the experience that I found to be negative--it felt smarmy and cheap, but that's just me. You can't take on any food or drink, you must buy it from Skybus and while I understand their business plan, I was surprised at how hard they pushed the food and beverages. I was pretty happy when I could put in earbuds and listen to music.
The crew was a bit over-zealous in their management of the cabin ('that's not all the way under your seat, sir'), but they were friendly and kind. They seemed to be having fun.
Most of my fellow travelers didn't appear to be road-warriors. They seemed to be leisure travelers, on the flight because it was affordable. There were many families, lots of kids and as someone else noted, the kinds of people you'd expect to see at the bus station, not on a plane, but it wasn't overly noisy and no one tried to run to the bathroom during takeoff.
If I'd paid $600.00 for my ticket (and because of the way our business works, I do that far more than I like to admit), I might rate the experience a little less positively. But given the price point and because it's 15 minutes to the gate from home, I'm very pleased. I'll fly them again. Soon.