Skybus folding leaves students grounded

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Six seniors from North Hills Christian School ó the private school’s entire senior class ó and two chaperones will be missing a trip to New York City after the bankruptcy of the air carrier with whom they’d booked.
Skybus, the low-cost carrier that started business just last May, went out of business over the weekend, leaving numerous travelers stranded across the country.
Members of North Hills’ entourage weren’t stranded ó they never got off the ground. Group members were scheduled to travel May 8 and return May 15.
Matt Mitchell, North Hills’ head of school, said his seniors and their chaperones probably won’t be getting their money back.
“The way we understand, they lost all their funds,” he said.
Mitchell said the students have been told they can pursue refunds through their credit card companies, but there are no promises that any money will be forthcoming.
Mitchell didn’t have an estimate Tuesday of the amount of money the students and their chaperones lost. He said Skybus offered fares at rates considerably less than their competitors and said booking the trip on another airline would likely cost much more ó money the students and their families don’t have.
Skybus advertised itself as a no-frills carrier, not offering in-flight meals and often flying into smaller airports than those served by larger airlines.
Mitchell said the trip will be substituted with a venture by bus to Atlanta.
“They’ve taken it really well,” Mitchell said of the students. “They’re taking it as a learning experience.”
Still, Mitchell said the students can’t help but be disappointed. He said the senior trip is something that students look forward to from the time they start at North Hills.
He said every student attending the school has an individual account into which money generated through fundraisers and similar events is deposited. Mitchell said the majority of that money is used to finance the senior trip.
He said the tickets via Skybus were reserved earlier this year.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or