For my most recent foray to sunny Florida for Christmas I had the opportunity to fly Skybus "Airlines", a new low-cost carrier based out of Columbus. The perks are $10 tickets and that Columbus is their "hub". The bad news is that to get the $10 tickets you have to wake up at 6 AM the day they release the tickets, which is usually 6-8 months before the flight, and that they only fly to a few cities.
In order to keep costs down they don't have things like a 1-800 number to call to schedule/check flights, free snacks on the plane, or things like "employees". Ha! Kidding about that last one. Kind of, at least. Although you have to buy your tickets online and can check in to your flight online, you have to wait in an interminable line at the airport to check your bag, despite paying to check the bag online (yes, you have to pay $5 per bag you check).
The same slow-moving people who take the bag from you are the ones who meander down to the gate in the basement of the airport (yes, the Columbus airport has a basement. No, there are no "gates" per se as much as doors directly out to the tarmac with numbers on them.) when it is almost takeoff time to announce that the flight is on-time, despite the departure time being 30 minutes later than the time on your ticket. If they do dare to admit that a flight is late, they will notify you by posting a paper sign at the gate (and by "gate" I mean "podium") with the updated departure time. But at least it's a very professional sign. Or one written on a torn-off sheet of printer paper in magic marker, one or the other.
Once it is time to board your "on-time" flight, you can kindly line up in 3 groups for "open boarding", much like Southwest (although I hear they don't do this anymore). To get into group 1, you pay $10. To get into group 2, you check in early online and then promptly go to the airport and sit on the floor in the basement, with all your children and things spread out as if you're having a picnic, so that you and your children can be tripped over by everyone else trying to use the restroom (yes, at least the basement has restrooms).
One redeeming quality about Skybus is that they have all new, full-sized aircraft. At least until they realize that they are hemorraging money despite having seemingly no staff and can save on jet fuel by flying old aircraft straight out of Catch Me If You Can or cramming everyone on a regional jet. Manning this full sized aircraft are trained, professional flight attendants in tasteful uniforms. Either that or possibly-over-21 girls in sparkly t-shirts advertising Skybus' few destinations who make jokes about the amount of turbulence that will be on the upcoming flight, giggle with each other, and chitchat with the copilot whilst the plane is in flight (to be fair, the copilot was out of the cockpit to use the restroom).
As I mentioned previously, there were no free snacks on the plane, everything was for sale. You could get a can or soda or tiny bottle of water for $2, a dinner (i.e. sandwich) for anywhere between $5 and $10, or a piece of jewelry or last minute Christmas gift for various prices. Yes, there is a skymall-esque catalog in the seat pocket in front of you containing not overpriced motorized tie racks or massage pillows/gloves/chairs/headrests/blankets/pants but instead jewelry and trinkets that they wheel around on a cart near the end of the flight.
Finally, the plane touches down (unless you experience the unlikely event of a water landing) and before you leave you are informed that your flight today was sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, the Free Maurice Clarett fund, or some other local Columbus outfit. Approximate flight time: 2 hours. Approximate time in line waiting to check your bag or board the plane that is somehow still "on-time": 1.5 hours. Similarity to that TV commercial where the people put a quarter in the slot to use their tray table or window shade: startling.
NE at NYG: The Pats are playing for history, the Giants are playing to restore any shred of confidence that Eli Manning may still have. NE
NO at CHI: The Saints apparently still have some remote, bizarre way they can make the playoffs, but after the way they laid an egg last week against the Eagles don't count on it. CHI
CAR at TB: The Bucs lost to the 49ers last week. Pencil in my pick for them to lose in the first round of the playoffs. TB
BUF at PHI: One of these teams will be mediocre, the other will also mediocre. Can they just cancel this one? PHI
CIN at MIA: The Dolphins played like an actual team during the second half last week, for the first time all season. CIN
JAX at HOU: I still don't buy the Jaguars. Can they beat the Colts on the road in the playoffs? Probably not. Can they beat the Pats on the road in the playoffs? Probably not. They just might be good enough to win a 1st round game against a team that won't realize that their offense is 1-dimensional, but that's it. JAX
DET at GB: I don't want to upset the NFC fans out there, but both the Packers and Cowboys have kind of wheezed to the finish line. Not a good sign. GB
SF at CLE: The Browns showed last week why they will lose in the first round of the playoffs if they make it. Unless they play that other team that I said would lose in the first round. CLE
SEA at ATL: I'm not sure if it's possible, but can I pick 4 NFC teams to all lose in the first round of the playoffs? SEA
DAL at WAS: This is a classic nothing-to-play-for game. WAS
PIT at BAL: I'm not sure if the Steelers have anything to play for, but the Ravens lost to the Dolphins. PIT
KC at NYJ: I'm not really sure what direction either of these teams are going in. Neither has a blue-chip QB of the future, neither has a solid defense to build around, neither has a solid offensive line to build around. GIDCAOTW. NYJ
SD at OAK: It's kind of disappointing to see the Chargers winning after the amusing early-season struggles. A lot of people hate the Patriots for various reasons these days, but it's hard to like a team as loudmouthed, underachieving, and steroid-ridden as the Chargers. SD
MIN at DEN: People say Adrian Peterson has no chance to break the rookie rushing record since he missed 2 games with injury and is about 400 yards behind, but I say have you seen the Broncos' run defense? MIN
STL at AZ: The Cardinals are like the Bengals' non-felonious doppelganger. Equally powerful offense on paper, equally poor record to show for it. AZ
TEN at IND: Even with nothing to play for, the Colts will knock the Titans out of the playoff picture, finally. IND