The Company That Made Buses Cool Again in Europe Is Launching in the U.S. With $0.99 One-way Trips
You might not think comfort when you think of bus travel, but a European company is headed to the U.S. to change that.
Since launching five years ago in Germany, FlixBus has become the largest bus network in Europe, busing travelers to 1,700 destinations in 27 different countries using a low-cost and high-comfort model. Next, it's hoping to make bus travel cool again on the West Coast.
Starting May 15, the company will offer tickets as low as $0.99 one-way on routes such as Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Los Angeles to Phoenix, Phoenix to Las Vegas, and San Diego to Las Vegas.
FlixBus utilizes a network of coaches that are owned and operated by independent, local companies in each destination they serve. This way, the company is able to avoid extra costs like paying to park all of its buses when they're not in use.
FlixBus has also made the decision to spend its money on its product — not on advertising.
"Instead of giving that money to advertisers, we give it to our customers, who we consider our most important stakeholders," Pierre Gourdain, the company's U.S. managing director, told Travel + Leisure. "We've seen tens of millions of people in Europe tell us that if it were not for FlixBus and the convenience and comfort they get, they would not have taken the trips."
This model has helped drive down costs for both the company and its customers while allowing FlixBus to incorporate small luxuries into its fleet including free Wi-Fi, a selection of onboard entertainment passengers can stream to their personal devices, LED lighting, and up to 31 inches of legroom.
Each seat on the buses, which tend to only be one to two years old, also comes with a tray table, cup holder, and footrest.
All of these amenities will cost U.S. travelers under $20 for one-way short-haul trips (three hours or less) and around $45 to $50 for one-way long-haul or overnight trips, Gourdain said.
Travelers will also be able to bring two pieces of luggage on board. They can make changes to their trips or request refunds through the FlixBus app.
“Today we see many things as a given, from food to water and electricity, but we think that travel should also be a given too, so we wanted to find a way to give a better experience to everyone rather than just a few number of people,” Gourdain said.
During its initial launch into the U.S., FlixBus will offer 180 connections operated by six regional partners: Arrow Stage Lines, American Explorer Motorcoach, Gray Line Arizona, Pacific Coachways, Transportation Charter Services, and USA Coach Services.
Buses will begin operations on May 31, and the company plans to expand to a total of 1,000 connections across the country by the end of the year.