2004-10-22 / Front Page

Save time, save money, and have a little fun — flyi

Columbia Star editor flies Independence Air to Washington, DC
By Natasha Whitling

Kathleen Gustafson and Gerry Cooney are Independence Air  
customer service agents
Kathleen Gustafson and Gerry Cooney are Independence Air customer service agents

Comfortable leather seats, celebrities, warm towels, and a smooth ride, are some of the features Independence Air offers on its domestic flights, all for budget prices. For those taking domestic flights out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Independence Air has made travel cheaper and faster with non–stop flights to 39 destinations.

Chuck Berry on the way out and Dennis Miller on the way home. Those are just two of several guest celebrities Independence Air hired to record their in–flight instructions. Adding a little bit of fun to their flights is one of the ways Independence tries to make their airline unique. Making the customer’s ride fast, fun, and comfortable is their goal.

Pilot Gerry O’Sullivan 
Pilot Gerry O’Sullivan “Often people are nervous leaving their bags on that cart,” Michael Barnhardt, flight attendant said. To let them know their bags are safe the ground crew walks by the windows holding a blue circle sign that says “Your bags are loaded” on one side, and “See you on the flip side” on the other.

Perhaps one of the best aspects of the Independence experience is their variety of in–flight snacks. Gone are the days of the mini–bag of peanuts. On an Independence flight passengers can choose from several snacks, such as Sun Chips or Famous Amos cookies.

Co–pilot Anthony Mastropietro
Co–pilot Anthony Mastropietro With prices as low as $39 one way, extras like warm towels and complimentary breath mints on the way out the door are a surprise. The Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC based airline cuts corners a bit by skipping the ticket booklet in favor of a less expensive, thin paper ticket. They do not intentionally over–book their flights, and seats are assigned.

Flight attendant Michael Barnhardt
Flight attendant Michael Barnhardt The addition of Independence Air and its low fares has significantly increased passenger traffic at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. “We saw a traffic increase of 40% in August and 38% in September as a result of Independence air,” Mike Flack, executive director of the Columbia Metro Airport, said. Before the arrival of Independence many travelers would drive to Charlotte or Atlanta to take cheaper domestic flights. “Right now we have cars from Georgia and North Carolina sitting in our parking lot,” Flack said.

The traffic at the airport has increased a total of 21% overall. Flack attributes this to the large number of people traveling now. The difference in air fares is literally hundreds of dollars. “We had flights to DC that were $850 or more. Now you can fly round trip for $150,” Flack said.

Independence Air has lived up to their mantra of “go your own way,” by providing more affordable and convenient opportunities for Columbia travelers, all sprinkled with a little bit of fun.

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