Sunday, July 31, 2016

First-Class Flying on the Ground

I've only flown first class once in my lifetime.  It was a glorious 13-hour international flight with comfortable seating, personal service, and all the food and drinks we could handle.

When considering taking a bus ride, I had never envisioned a first-class setting...until I met Vonlane.

Earlier this month, I was headed to Houston for a professional conference.  My hotel room was reserved and I had even planned out my stops for a road trip.  A day or two before the conference, I learned that parking would be $16-$20 per day!  That added up to $80-100 just to have my SUV sit in a dark garage for 5 days.  With my low MPG, I was also looking at a $60 gas bill.

Knowing Greyhound busses would not be my cup of tea, I decided to check out Megabus.  Reading this blog review scared me, though, and I decided not to spend $20 one-way on an iffy experience.  When the author said to "lower your expectations" and "we've never taken a Megabus that doesn't leave at least 30 minutes late," it doesn't leave me with good feelings, even if the trip is cheap.

That's when Ken suggested Vonlane.  Vonlane claims to be a "private jet on wheels."  While I've never flown in a private jet, I can say I agree to the sentiment.

I argued with Ken over the justification for the $79 one-way trip.  He explained that if we are going to have to spend $100, he would rather spend it on something enjoyable rather than a parking spot. He's also the most thoughtful husband who insisted that I needed the break and the special treatment.  (awww)

I took to the internet again to read reviews and found nothing but praise for this bus line.  That sealed the deal.

We booked the one-way trip online and saw there were only 6 of the maximum 16 seats filled.  The next afternoon, Ken dropped me off at the Hyatt Regency downtown where the slick-looking bus was waiting for me.

Services included
I was greeted by the attendant, Melanie.  She showed me to my seat and asked if this was my first trip.  She shared the run-down of our trip, the services offered, and that she used to be a flight attendant who enjoyed the more personal touch of Vonlane.

On the drive to Houston, I enjoyed binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, working on my Macbook, having a few snacks, and simply taking in the view.  Melanie checked on me frequently, but would not interrupt my work or sleep.  It truly was a relaxing 2 1/2 hours.  Melanie also served the bus driver, offering him drinks and snacks as well as updating him on road conditions and travel time.  It gave me peace of mind to know he could simply focus on driving while she took care of other details.

They offer noise-cancelling headphones that are legit!  When I put them on, my ears popped due to pressure.  I didn't use them to watch the bus TVs, but plugged them in to my iPhone to enjoy Grey's. The wi-fi was fairly reliable throughout the trip.  There were some parts of the drive when certain apps such as Netflix or Snapchat didn't respond, but work-related sites such as my assignment scheduling platform and Blogger always responded.

On the subject of work, they offer a conference room in the back, complete with a large table, door for privacy, seating for 6, and noise-cancelling headphones with a built-in mic so you can work and even conference while on the road. What an awesome way to do work travel!  The conference room typically must be reserved, but if you're with few passengers as I was, they simply offer the use of the room to whomever might need it.

The bathrooms.  They were not only clean, but were a lovely design.  Much better than the "vomit-worthy" possibility I read about on Megabus.  The seats recline to a very comfortable position and some busses have leg/foot rests, which help shorties like me sit for a long period of time without our legs falling asleep!

I highly recommend you take Vonlane if you're traveling among the tricities they serve. (Dallas, Austin, and Houston.)  It could be a fun friend's trip or a way to get work done while you travel.
The bus back home did have leg rests

The first bus didn't have leg rests
Roomy! Nice flooring.
This is the bus BATHROOM, ya'll!


TV if you choose to watch.
View from the bus, arriving in Houston










2 comments:

  1. Yeah... James used to take Megabus from Dallas to here and back because he got so tired of the driving. It was cheap, but never EVER on time. I don't think he ever attempted to use the restroom. Since he's lower maintenance than you, it worked out fine. ;) I don't think I'd take it, either. But I have a friend whose whole family (three kids and the parents) took a vacation solely on Megabus. They said they waited outside in the rain several places (since there are no stations) but that they had a good time and it was the only way they could have afforded traveling where they did.

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  2. Wow, what a cool service! I wish it was offered in the Midwest; I can't stand Megabus for a trip of more than 3 hours. Especially when half of the passengers let their cigarette smoke waft into the open doors of the bus at every rest stop (instead of moving a few steps downwind). Then they smell like cigarette smoke for the entire trip, triggering my asthma. And don't even get me started on the frequent bus breakdowns! It sounds like your travel funds were well-spent!

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