SkyHi Review: A Subscription Service for Local Flights

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There are a growing number of flight apps available these days. Airlines and travel services are no fools: they understand that the future is in mobile devices, and that mobile services – as well as speedy desktop services – are how people will be booking flights.

That gives people quite a few choices, which is usually good – except when trying to book a quick flight, when it can become a barrier to effective service.

SkyHi takes on this challenge and choose differentiation as its weapon. The subscription service is targeted specifically toward fast-moving individuals who have the freedom – or the responsibility – to make fast, on-the-spot flying plans, and need a service that can keep up while helping them save money. But succeeding at this also limits just what SkyHi can do. Can a subscription plan work in this industry?

So keep reading my SkyHi review to find out more.

Overview

SkyHi Logo 2
SkyHi’s gym model service targets frequent flyers.

Summary: SkyHi helps you quickly find and book local, one-way flights within your “travel radius.” You can only book one flight at a time, so the service is designed for on-the-move professionals with fast-changing schedules and plans.

Price: $200/month + $35 per one way ticket.

Availability: Limited as of November 2017. Must apply and be accepted.

SkyHi App 1What We Liked:

Design and Interface: SkyHi is primarily concerned with being easy to use. This is its primary value offering, and it largely succeeds. Everything is smooth and easy to understand.

Speed: SkyHi takes about as long to view flights and book a ticket as a traditional online service…when on a desktop. The mobile version of the app is streamlined for claiming a seat on the go, and takes about as long as ordering a meal online when you’re in a hurry.

Cost Effective:  SkyHi is aimed at people who travel frequently and travel alone. The subscription model is interesting because it’s ideal for just these kind of people – and if you use the service frequently, you are bound to save a significant amount of money. The subscription service costs $200 per month, which includes 5 one way flights at $35 a piece. It’s an interesting model with a lot of potential for frequent fliers.

What We Didn’t:

A limited system for short-term plans: SkyHi isn’t about planning your big vacation of the year. It’s not about booking seats for your whole family. It’s about individuals booking immediate flights for important work or fun. While this ties into the millennial-friendly feeling of the service (and helps save money), it also creates a bunch of limitations.

  • You can only book a flight up to a week in advance, no longer.
  • You can only claim one seat at a time, no more.
  • You can’t book a secondary flight until your first flight has landed.
  • You can only fly 5 times each month.
  • You can only go up to 1500 miles per flight. These rules significantly limit the target audience of SkyHi.

Some uncertainty about flights: In a perfect world, you could fly out on a plane, hop out for a fun activity, and pop open SkyHi to book your return flight home that day. Unfortunately, FFA regulations and other limitations make this a little difficult. Even after you land and SkyHi lets you search for more flights, you can’t book a flight that’s less than several hours out (there are several reasons for this, mostly concerning worries about esoteric industry manipulation). This makes it difficult to book very short trips reliably, and dangerous to assume that you can get a flight back the same day. Naturally, this limits the target audience even more.

 

The Experience: A Booking App for a New Generation of Travelers

SkyHi Flights
SkyHi offers a wide variety of direct flights.

SkyHi offers a wide variety of direct flights.It’s hard to use SkyHi without getting the feeling that it was made by millennials, and for millennials, to reinvent the ticket booking process – a goal SkyHi has confirmed in its marketing. Everything about the design feels design for the younger generations who don’t mind plane-hopping at a moment’s notice, but may want an easy and affordable way to do it. Certain aspects of the design are reminiscent of other popular service apps like AirBnB. Everything is streamlined for easy mobile use, with large letters and clear categories, plus an overall, extended effort to be, well, chill.

“You’re currently in ________, but you want to be in _______” is how SkyHi greets potential travelers.

SkyHi has access to many different flights based on local services and availability, but appears to focus on nearby major cities where flights are common. Choose a city, and you will see all available flight times for nearby airlines where seats are still open. Pick a flight to claim your seat, and that’s it. The airline will send you your confirmation, and you get on with life.

Note that SkyHi does not allow you to select a seat: that’s a service that the airlines have to provide directly, so once you get your confirmation email, you can use the airline website to select your seat. Obviously, this works best if you don’t really care where you sit.

Of course, the service model is also highly focused, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you need a refresher, take a glance up at the limitations we discussed in our pros and cons sections. These limitations all work together to help 1)speed up the booking process and 2)make claiming a seat viable for only a small section of frequent flyers.

This is a service for freelancers, for long distance relationships, to photographers bouncing around between shoots and professionals moving around frequently for consultations or training. As long as those limitations are understood, the service works. But you can’t expect to download it and use it for your family vacations, and it’s important that SkyHi makes that clear going forward.

The Future of SkyHi

SkyHi is planning to move out of the early bird model and launch fully to the public in early 2018. At this time, the service expects to have several tiers with different subscription rates and ticket offerings for different kinds of travelers. This should help define the service more clearly and give people more choice in tailoring a package, which is always a good thing. For now, the service is focusing largely on individual consumers, although the commercial sector is still a future possibility, which could allow businesses to buy a subscription and share it around the office as needed.

SkyHi App 3The question is, can the gym model work in the airline industry, and will SkyHi face any serious competition? Currently, the closest thing the app has to competition are local spot-filling services for private jets (such as JetSuiteX), which has been a stable part of the industry for years and is unlikely to change much in the future. This leaves SkyHi largely alone as a national service focused on commercial airlines.

Final Things to Consider

SkyHi is quick to add a couple caveats to its service so it can forestall any complaints.

First, the service doesn’t actually provide air carrier services. It’s not responsible for anything that happens at the airport. It’s worth saying it again, the service is basically an automated agent to help you quickly schedule flights while covering the costs in return for your subscription: You can’t get mad at SkyHi because of flight availability, delays, problems, sudden changes, etc.

There’s also the issue of arranging baggage, which SkyHi also doesn’t touch. Of course, baggage policies vary from airline to airline, and if you are randomly picking up a cheap, fast flight, you will need to know the baggage rules for that particularly airline. SkyHi helps a little with this by providing links to all the baggage policies with the airlines it works with. But generally speaking, it’s probably easier for freelancers and day-trippers to limit their luggage to carry-ons.

Note that you are allowed to upgrade your seat after you claim it, as long as that’s an option the airline provides for that flight. However, this will not be included in the subscription fee, so you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

A Note About SkyHi’s Founders

SkyHi was a project started between Rama Poola and Vivek Poola. Rama Poola’s experience incudes other popular apps that you’ve probably heard of. He worked on compatibility with the Readability Android/Chrome app, helped create Reuters Next, was involved in making Beatport. Vivek Poola, serving as CTO and co-founder, has experience in brand new startups, putting together tech teams, and launching a variety of new products. Together, they are the ideal team to bring disruption to the airline services industry with a third-party app like SkyHi.

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Tyler Lacoma

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.

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