Want free Wifi, plush seats, and lots of legroom? Take the bus
Dreaming of first-class comfort for a fraction of the price? Get on a bus.
If you’ve been crammed into coach, delayed by the TSA or charged just to carry on your bag, know this: There may be a better way. It’s called the bus. In the past five years, there has been a marked uptick in the number of luxury buses, says Peter Pantuso, the president and CEO of the American Bus Association — which means that more people than ever can travel on fancier buses.
Luxury liner Vonlane, which bills itself as a “private jet on wheels,” boasts plush reclining leather seats with lots of legroom, complimentary Wifi and noise-cancelling headphones, an onboard conference room and seats that face one another with tables in between so you can play cards or work. It began serving the Austin to Dallas route a few years back and a few weeks ago announced a Houston to San Antonio route. One-way tickets cost around $100.
There’s also Limoliner, which has complimentary meals, free high-speed wifi, an onboard service attendant and even fresh flowers in the bathroom. It costs around $100 each way and takes passengers between Boston and New York. The Washington D.C, to New York route has similar options, including Royal Traveler, a large Mercedes van with gourmet snacks, quilted leather reclining seats, personal TVs, reliable wifi and more.
Now compare that to flying coach, which now costs an average of $243 for a domestic roundtrip, according to airline research company Hopper.com. The average legroom has shrunk from 33-34 inches to 31 inches, seats are less padded than they used to be, and some flights have seats that don’t even recline. If you want to bring on more than a small carry-on bag or indulge in some spotty WiFi, you’ll often have to pay. Plus there’s the time and hassle it take to go through airport security.
You’re starting to like the sound of a bus trip now, right? And even if you don’t take a luxury bus, the quality of bus travel can be better than air travel. Bus seats tend to be larger and more padded, and many bus lines don’t charge you extra for your bags and many offer free WiFi. You also don’t wait in security lines or crowded airports to board. Plus, data released by travel search engine Liligo.com found that for a distance of less than 200 miles, flying is about $100 more expensive than taking the bus.
Of course, bus travel often takes longer than air travel, so it usually doesn’t make sense for long distances. But, as Liligo data showed, it doesn’t always take longer. When you factor in the time you spend at the airport waiting for your flight, a bus may take the same amount of time and could even be faster. And, of course, not all buses are nice — we all probably remember a not-so-nice trip from college — so you have to do your homework before buying that ticket.
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