[Traveling In The USA] What’s better? Planes or Buses?


Buses. People usually like traveling by plane so much more, even when planes are really expensive for the budget traveler. So here I am, talking about Buses and Planes for you to compare situations.


First off, let me say this applies to most large bus companies in the USA. Megabus comes to mind.

Buses are mildly uncomfortable, and they take a lot, a lot longer than planes. But really, let’s start breaking this down:


  1. Buses are much, much cheaper (generally): If you planned your trips with 2-3 months in advance, you might find great deals on plane tickets, bringing them down to 1-2-3 hundred dollars, sometimes with certain promotions they can be even in the low 100 numbers. If you couldn’t really foresee that far, the fares get crazy for round trips. A bus doesn’t really have this issue – if you could plan with one week or so before your trip, you can get really cheap prices. Compare Austin to Pensacola for 150 bus ride vs 482 round trip plain ride. It’s more than triple the amount.

    Traveling from Austin To Pensacola by Plane

    Traveling from Austin To Pensacola by Plane

  2. Planes are much, much faster (generally): Each way of that previously mentioned Austin to Pensacola round trip will take you 18 hours. A plane will take you 1 hour + a layover of about 1 hour +  2 hours in the second leg of the trip + 2 hours waiting prior to boarding, it’s safe to say it will take 6 hours per trip. This is about a third of a bus ride’s time.
  3. Comfort levels are similar: In a Bus Ride you have the advantage of always being able to use your smartphone and tablet, anything to distract yourself. You can talk on the phone and sleep overnight if need be. A plane doesn’t have the smartphone usage because of airline and security regulations.
  4. People: A plane’s people are very similar to Bus people. Of course, because of the reduced cost, you’ll see people with less money traveling in buses, but the politeness levels are similar. If a bus is crowded, same for a plane being crowded, it’ll be hard to find pleasant sitting or experiences.
  5. Stops: Both bus rides and plane rides have random stops. Both let you out most of the times, but Bus stops are usually 10-30 minutes (unless changing buses) while airplane stops are usually 1+ hours. You can avoid stops altogether in most plane trips but it will increase the cost of your trip a lot.
  6. Luggage: Your luggage is treated pretty badly in both situations, but in my experience, bus rides have it better. It’s hard to lose something when it’s in the bus beneath someone’s feet. Planes losing things is really rare these days, but the distance between point A and point B are so huge it can take a while before your luggage is returned. That said, airlines do handle it all by themselves most of the times, while bus companies try to let the passenger move it between buses.

All thoughts mentioned, there’s a clear advantage in convenience for Plane trips, since they take the shortest. The one issue is, looking at the example, we have a 1/3rd of the price bus ride (which could go for lower depending on the time of the reservation) vs a 1/3rd of the time spent on a plane (which could go lower but price will hack up badly).


One more thing: It’s the usual that airports are outside the city, and getting there costs money since there are no bus stops or any public transportation nearby. Add Cab costs to your total!


Don’t be afraid of riding the bus if you have TIME but not MONEY, and don’t be afraid of paying a bit more if you have MONEY but not TIME. Plan ahead though!

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