The expense and hassles of air travel have many people turning instead to the open road. But hours behind the wheel can be exhausting. There is another way: You can take a bus.
In fact, several lines have set out to prove that bus travel doesn’t have to be cramped and uncomfortable. They feature amenities you might find in first-class plane cabins, such as plush reclining seats; abundant space between rows; free internet, TV and movies; foldout tables; free snacks and drinks; onboard attendants and even private mini-suites with lie-flat beds.
The Jet, a bus service that launched in 2021, connecting Washington, D.C., and New York City ($99–$199 one way), is a good example. Just 19 passengers sit in rows 6 feet apart, a spaciousness that is rare for bus travel. The reclining seats are made with gel and memory foam and something called motion-canceling technology that makes the highway ride feel more smooth. “It really is a game changer, especially for seniors,” says founder and CEO Chad Scarborough. “It eliminates all the bumps and motion sickness. We had a passenger with sciatica, and she only travels with us now.”
One more breakthrough is enhanced Wi-Fi, billed as the fastest in mass transit, which lets you stream away while an attendant serves free snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine. Scarborough says frustration with plane travel helped create the opportunity for luxury bus service: “We tried to eliminate every pain point — no crowded stations, no long security lines, no waiting in line at all.”
With a plan to launch a D.C.-New York-Boston route early next year, Napaway boasts flat-sleeper buses with convertible private “pods.”
“Driving yourself is fatiguing, and you can’t get anything else done,” says founder and CEO Daniel Aronov. “Flying takes at least five to six hours door-to-door for even a short journey, with security, delays, crowds. The regular bus is crowded, and trains can be expensive.” What’s more, says Aronov, bus travel is relatively green.
Other lines providing a premium experience with fewer, more comfortable seats include RedCoach, serving 14 cities in Florida and eight in Texas; and Vonlane, serving five cities in Texas, plus Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis.