I Tried a Luxury Bus Startup for $99 From NYC to Washington DC

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I’ve never had a pleasant intercity bus experience (until now), but the complimentary snacks and beverages, fast WiFi, and motion-canceling seats made the ride enjoyable and comfortable.

two seats, one with the tray table up

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


That is until I got carsick. But more on that later.

rows of seats inside the bus

The seats at the front of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


I, like many other travelers in the US, do not have fond memories of sitting in intercity buses like Greyhound or Megabus.

A Greyhound bus parked outside in Texas in 2021.

A Greyhound bus in Texas in 2021.

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters


Enter the Jet, a luxury bus startup looking to provide another option different from those sometimes-uncomfortable budget bus experiences.

A matte black bus that reads "The Jet" on the side.

The Jet on a cold January morning.

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Unlike the classic Flixbus or Greyhound, the Jet has comfortable seats, in-ride treats, and fast Wifi, among other bonuses. It’s more expensive, but the company is betting riders who can afford to will pay for the luxury and exclusivity.

rows of seats inside one of the Jet's buses

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Chad Scarborough, the Jet’s founder and CEO, predicts the company’s passengers are the top one to 2% of bus riders, or “people who want a nicer option” but don’t want to pay for an Amtrak, he said the first time I toured one of its buses in late 2021.

The galley at the rear of the bus. A hand sanitizer bottle is mounted on the right.

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The startup isn’t a new concept: Luxury coaches like Vonlane have fared well in other markets, Scarborough noted.

The back of the bus.

The back of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


But unlike Vonlane, which operates primarily in Texas, the Jet targets two cities with low car ownership: New York and Washington, DC.

A view of tall buildings through bus windows. Someone wearing a beanie sits in the lower corner of the frame.

A view out the windows while we were still in Manhattan.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Source: Titlemax

 

Tripperbus, which also calls itself a “first-class bus service,” runs a similar route from Arlington, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland to New York City.

The New York City skyline at sunset



Rachel Mendelson/Insider


Source: Tripperbus

 

But the Jet drops off and picks up its passengers right in the heart of DC at Metro Center, about a 10-minute walk to the White House.

A picture of The White House, with a flag flying above it.

The White House south facade, in Washington, D.C.


Raymond Boyd/Getty Images



On January 7, the morning after New York’s first snow in the new year, I decided to take a ride on the Jet for a roughly five-hour ride from New York City to Washington, DC to test its offering.

A matte black bus that reads "The Jet" on the side. Passengers with bags are boarding the bus or putting their bags away into the lower storage compartment.

The Jet on a cold January morning.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The Jet only has two departure times from New York: 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. I booked the former hoping to get some work done on my Friday afternoon ride.

two seats side by side with a blanket and hand sanitizer one on of them

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The Jet departs from Hudson Yards. This outdoor departure away from any terminal means I didn’t have to navigate the large, often busy corridors of an indoor station. It also means passengers board from the curb, just like discount carrier Megabus.

A matte black bus that reads "The Jet" on the side. Passengers with bags are boarding the bus or putting their bags away into the lower storage compartment.A matte black bus that reads "The Jet" on the side. Passengers with bags are boarding the bus or putting their bags away into the lower storage compartment.

The Jet on a cold January morning.

Brittany Chang/Insider


I already reserved my spot on the 14-seat bus so there was no need to rush onto the vehicle in hopes of getting a prime seat or space in the luggage compartment.

A row of two leather sets. One chair has a laptop, purse, water bottle with a backpack on the floor.

My messy seat.

Brittany Chang/Insider


And the rows of seats are six feet apart as per COVID-19 protocols, providing ample legroom and space for my bags.

the galley with a few seats

The back of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


“We’ve had some people tell us [this] feels safer than taking a train or a plane because there’s so few people,” Scarborough said in 2021.

A sink with hand sanitizer.

The bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider


And I agree. Besides me, there were only nine other people on the bus including the driver and attendant. Everyone was required to mask up unless they were eating or drinking.

A napkin that reads "the jet" and peanut butter Ritz crackers.

Snacks on the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


There’s also a UV filtration system that sanitizes the air every 10 minutes, according to the company.

The galley at the rear of the bus with a coffee maker

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Other than the person sitting next to me (who I live with) everyone felt distanced from my seat, making the Jet feel safer than any plane ride I’ve been on during COVID-19. And unlike planes, the Jet is also now enforcing a vaccine mandate.

rows of seats inside one of the Jet's buses

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The pre-booked seats, ample spacing, and warm attendant made for one of the safest-seeming and most relaxing boarding experiences I’ve ever had on any mode of transportation.

Rows of black leather seats, some topped with jackets, bags, pillows.

Inside the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


All I had to do was get on the bus, throw my bags on the floor in front of me, confirm my seat with the friendly attendant, and I was all good to go.

A row of two leather sets. One chair has a laptop, purse, water bottle with bags on the floor.

My messy seat.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Throughout the bus ride, the attendant checked on the passengers and offered us a selection of complimentary snacks, water, wine, beer, coffee, and soda. And at the end of the bus ride, she collected our trash.

The attendant holding a tray of snacks and napkins

Snacks on the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


I don’t drink soda, and I passed on the free booze (I was, after all, still working), but just having these options made the Jet feel more luxurious than an economy seat on a plane.

The refrigerator with small water bottles and Coca Cola.

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


We were offered The Jet-branded blankets to use during the bus ride, but I was already bundled in a thick sweater, so I passed.

blanket and hand sanitizer on one of the seats

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


There’s also a bathroom at the rear of the bus next to the attendant’s galley. The clean bathroom — although smaller than Amtrak’s — had the basics: a toilet, sink, mirror, and hand sanitizer.

A sink with hand sanitizer.

The bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider


But because it was freezing the night before, the bathroom pipes were frozen, putting the porcelain throne out of commission for the first half of the ride.

A toilet and toilet paper.

The bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Luckily our driver scheduled a quick bathroom stop halfway through the journey, which was perfect for a quick stretch.

A matte black bus that reads "The Jet" on the side.

The Jet on a cold January morning during out bathroom stop.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Snacks and a clean bathroom are great, but the Jet has an even stronger standout feature that sets it apart from any other luxury bus competitor or mode of travel: the motion-canceling “hoverseats.”

A row of empty seats.

Inside the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Source: Insider

 

These seats are the Jet’s pièce de résistance and its biggest draw.

a reclined single seat with the foot rest up

A reclined seat.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The seats use a suspension technology developed by Bose to block 90% of the bus ride’s uncomfortable bumps and movements.

two seats side by side with a blanket and hand sanitizer one on of them

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The tech can be more commonly found in the long-haul truck industry, making the Jet the “world’s first” bus with motion-canceling seats, according to the company.

Two buttons to adjust the lumbar support of each seat.

Buttons to adjust the seating.

Brittany Chang/Insider


 

These seats made road traveling feel more like flying, but better.

rows of seats inside one of the Jet's buses

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The gel and memory foam seats are 22-inches wide and plusher than my couch at home.

two seats, one with the tray table up

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


When my seat was fully reclined 45-degrees, I could have comfortably fallen asleep.

a reclined single seat with the foot rest up

A reclined seat.

Brittany Chang/Insider


And because there’s six feet between each row, I didn’t have to worry about reclining too far.

rows of seats inside the bus

The seats at the front of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Luckily, the seats’ armrests have a built-in tray table, allowing me to lay back while tapping away on my laptop.

two seats, one with the tray table up

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


But unfortunately, I had to work, and couldn’t take the nap I so longed for.

A laptop with a map of Manhattan. Bus seats and large windows are behind it.

Working on the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The coaches are equipped with the same WiFi used on Google and Facebook’s employee shuttles, Scarborough previously explained.

A screen monitor to track the tank and light switches for the galley.

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The WiFi was no joke. It was reliable and the fastest I’ve ever used on a mode of transportation.

a coffee maker and milk frother in the galley in the back of one of the Jet's buses

The galley.

Brittany Chang/Insider


Almost every passenger was pattering away on their laptops during the bus ride, but I never encountered disruptions with the network, even when I was streaming music and videos.

The back of the bus looking towards the front and rows of seats.

Inside the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The seats also have outlets that kept my laptop running throughout the entire journey.

A laptop with a map of Manhattan. Bus seats and large windows are behind it.

Working on the Jet.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The motion-canceling seats did a great job of blocking the smaller bumps, but I could still feel the rocking motion of the bus. This was expected and would have otherwise been fine if I hadn’t been staring at my laptop.

rows of seats inside one of the Jet's buses

The seats.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The longer I stared at the screen, the harder it became to read smaller blocks of text, a side effect that brought me back to my concussion four months ago.

The refrigerator with cans of beer.

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The longer I worked, the worse my carsickness-induced nausea — a familiar feeling from stop-and-go traffic but never from long bus rides — became.

the exterior of the bathroom with a red light indicating its occupied

The bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider


The headache, woozy uneasiness, and churning stomach made the remaining almost two hours more difficult to kill.

A coffee maker and milk frother on a countertop.

The galley at the rear of the bus.

Brittany Chang/Insider


But when I looked around, most other passengers were still on their laptops and phones, a sign that nobody else was feeling as sick as I was.

Large windows show snow falling down the side of the window.

A view out the windows while we were still in Manhattan.

Brittany Chang/Insider