Columbus, OH - Port Columbus International Airport offers only one all-season nonstop flight to an international destination, namely, to Toronto, Canada. And when it does offer seasonal nonstop flights to non-U.S. destinations, they are typically to Cancun, Mexico and Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.
Do you remember the low-cost carrier whose slogan was "only birds fly cheaper"? Skybus Airlines commenced operations in May 2007 and ceased operations less than a year later due to rising jet fuel costs. After several years, Skybus announced that it would restart operations in its former hub, Port Columbus International Airport, and set itself apart from other airlines by offering heavily discounted flights to European destinations. Last week, it offered a one-way nonstop flight to Madrid, Spain for only $150, which is about one-quarter of the price of competing multi-stop fares.
There was only one problem. In order to maximize the number of passengers on this international flight, Skybus advertised the flight's destination as "Toledo/Madrid". Toledo, Spain is less than an hour drive from Madrid and is serviced by the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport. Because Port Columbus International Airport rarely offers nonstop flights to non-domestic destinations other than Toronto, a dozen residents of Toledo, OH purchased the tickets and got more than they bargained for. Instead of a 45 minute flight, it took more than 48 hours for Skybus Airlines to return the misdirected passengers to Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, OH.
In an interview with Toledo, OH resident Jessica Hall, she explained that she and the others "purchased the flight ticket because it was much cheaper than a one-way car rental from Columbus, OH to Toledo, OH and Skybus offered one of the cheapest nonstop flights to Toledo Express Airport ever witnessed." She further explained that she "was not surprised by the fact that the flight attendants spoke in both English and Spanish during take-off because there are many Hispanics who live in Ohio." All of the passengers who believed that they were flying to Toledo, OH did not realize what had happened until they landed in Madrid because they fell asleep after enjoying the complementary alcoholic beverages that are typically offered on international flights.
Skybus indicated that the mishap was a major financial setback, and that it would be more transparent in its advertisements for international flight destinations going forward.
At press time, we learned that Skybus will soon offer heavily discounted flights from Port Columbus International Airport to a recently constructed private airport in Dublin, OH.