- In January, I took a $99 luxury bus trip from New York City to Washington, DC.
- I then rode Amtrak’s Northeast Regional from Washington DC back to New York for $49.
- My Amtrak ride may have been faster and cheaper, but it can’t compare to the Jet’s excessive luxury.
In early January, I took a $99 luxury bus trip with motion-canceling seats and free alcohol from New York City to Washington DC.
My trip on the Jet’s luxury coach was so comfortable, I enjoyed it more than my $49 Amtrak Northeast Regional return trip.
And that’s not an easy statement for me to say — some of my fondest travel memories have been with Amtrak, and I hold the railroad service close to my heart.
But the Jet’s fast WiFi, palatial “Hoverseats,” and free snacks made the startup’s service the clear winner for travel between Manhattan and Washington, DC.
Let me explain.
The Jet is an intercity bus startup with tickets that range from around $100 to up to almost $200.
This price tag is much higher than the typical Greyhound or Megabus trip, but that’s because the Jet isn’t your typical intercity bus.
The startup calls itself an “affordable first-class” bus service.
While this isn’t a new concept, it’s the only service to pick up and drop off travelers in Manhattan (Hudson Yards) and Washington DC (Metro Center).
The Jet’s coaches are filled with luxury services and amenities that made my five-hour bus ride from New York to DC fly by.
During my Friday afternoon trip on the Jet from New York to Washington DC, I noticed several amenities that Amtrak doesn’t have.
For starters, its coaches are lined with the most comfortable passenger seats I’ve ever sat on in any mode of transit, whether it be planes, trains, or personal cars.
The 45-degree reclinable seats are filled with gel and memory foam padding with adjustable seat backs.
And because there are only 14 seats inside the 45-foot-long Jet, each row is six feet apart, providing more than enough legroom.
I could have easily fallen asleep in full recline — like the passenger sitting next to me — if I wasn’t working.
The seats are also lined with Bose-developed suspension technology that blocks 90% of the freeway’s bumps.
If you’ve never heard of this in-seat technology before, you’re not alone. It’s more commonly used in the long-haul trucking industry, and the Jet says its passenger buses are the first to use such tech.
These “hoverseats” don’t block the sways of the bus, but it does make a noticeable difference in smoothing out what could otherwise be a turbulent bus ride.
But if you’re prone to motion sickness like I am, this suspension tech won’t be your savior.
I still felt carsick-induced nausea and headaches after about two hours on the road, likely because I was staring at my laptop screen and working for most of the bus ride.
While this wasn’t the brightest idea, it wouldn’t have been possible without the Jet’s robust WiFi, which is the same system available on Google and Facebook’s employee shuttles, Chad Scarborough, the Jet’s founder and CEO, previously told Insider.
I could stream videos and music, peruse social media, and use Slack without any delays even as other passengers were using their devices.
And because the seats had plenty of working outlets, I never had to worry about draining my phone or laptop’s batteries.
The Jet also has a friendly attendant that checks on the passengers and provides a wide selection of complimentary snacks and beverages, which include water, wine, beer, coffee, and sodas.
The fast WiFi, complimentary snacks, and comfortable seats made the Jet the most comfortable travel experience I’ve ever had, minus the carsickness.
And while I’ve never had a bad Amtrak experience, the railroad service just can’t compare to the comforts of the Jet.
I’ve traveled on the Northeast Regional, Acela, and Coast Starlight, and am a big fan of the passenger railroad company.
But when I took the Northeast Regional from DC back to New York, I found myself missing some of the luxuries the Jet had.
Amtrak and the Jet only share two major similarities: the option for intercity travel and onboard bathrooms.
Amtrak’s bathroom is a bit bigger, albeit not by much.
And it’s definitely not as bright and modern as the Jet’s.
Amtrak’s seats also aren’t nearly as plush as the Jet’s, although the startup did set the bar unreasonably high.
But the most frustrating part of my Amtrak ride was the free WiFi, which was pretty much nonexistent.
I’m used to bad WiFi on different modes of transportation, but the one on my Northeast Regional ride disconnected me every few minutes.
I could keep up with Slacks instantly on the Jet, but I couldn’t even respond to my emails on my Amtrak ride without the WiFi disconnecting. I ultimately gave up and decided to work offline because the alternative was too frustrating.
Yes, these are minor gripes, but none that I had on the Jet.
But in defense of the train system, Amtrak has two big benefits that the Jet doesn’t: speed and the railway system.
My Northeast Regional journey was physically smoother than the bus ride on the freeway, so getting up to stretch didn’t feel as precarious as it did on the Jet. Plus, no motion sickness.
And because Amtrak doesn’t travel over the freeway, I had no concerns with delays on the estimated time of arrival.
My Amtrak trip back to New York was also almost three-and-a-half hours, about one-and-a-half hours shorter than my Jet ride.
If your priority is speed, the Jet just can’t compare. The extra one-and-a-half hours can make a big difference when you’re traveling.
But based on amenities and luxuries alone, to me, the Jet is a pretty great form of intercity travel.
I’ve yet to see the same efficient WiFi, comfortable seats, spacious rows, and selection of complimentary snacks and beverages on any other mode of transportation.
These are just excessive luxuries, but they definitely made my journey more pleasant. And I found traveling on the Jet a highlight of my weekend DC trip.
My Jet trip was $50 more expensive than my Amtrak journey, but it should be noted that January is often a slow travel month, which may explain my cheaper Amtrak ticket.
According to the startup, the Jet’s prices are “comparable” to Amtrak’s regional routes and less expensive than Acela. And the startup knows this is a major part of its appeal.
In late October 2021, Scarborough predicted its passengers would be the top roughly 2% of leisure budget bus riders, or “people who want a nicer option” but don’t want to pay for an Amtrak, he told Insider.
At this point, I’m comparing the plushest travel experience I’ve ever had (the Jet) with the more efficient but less comfortable option (Amtrak).
But ultimately, the Jet’s unnecessarily plush amenities have convinced me that I’d rather take the startup to and from DC instead of Amtrak, just as long as I’m not in a rush.
Read the original article on Business Insider