…sigh…

i know anyone reading this is probably pretty sick of reading about my travel nightmares, but i want the following to serve as a consumer warning rather than just banter. a few months ago, a company called megabus announced a new service that seemed to fill a void no other bus company had tackled: service from downtown toronto to the buffalo airport. to sweeten the deal, that same bus continues with service to downtown nyc. to anyone familiar with pearson and not BUF, tickets start at $49, instead of a few hundred, and it takes about ten minutes to get through security, not two hours. also, flights actually take off pretty much every time.

DH and i almost immediately booked seats to the airport, even though their timing didn’t really match up. their estimated two and a half hour driving time is impossible in a car with no traffic, forget about a bus. but they’re operated by coach, a company i sort of trust, so i let it go, figuring as an airport bus they probably had this all figured out. just in case, i left over two hours of padding between the bus ETA and the flight check-in time.

the first three hours on the bus were surprisingly pleasant. it was about half full, left on time, and had a bathroom– the three things i was most worried about. there was no traffic and we were a bit past our ETA, but if we could breeze through customs we could still be at the airport in twenty minutes and be fine. then the driver comes on the speaker and explains the protocol at the border. that each passenger would have to get off the bus, stand in a long line, and present a border guard with his or her passport. once through, the rider would have to retrieve any luggage that would be unloaded from under the bus and checked by drug hounds, and allow another three inspectors to open and rifle through the luggage. once each individual was through, he explained, the bus would be repacked and allowed to depart– to the buffalo bus station, where the drivers would be switched out– and then to the airport. the whole process would take at least three hours, he said, but could take up to the whole day. if anyone had a flight within the next three hours, they would most definitely miss it.

DH stood up and asked why he didn’t say this on the website when we paid for our tickets, or when we boarded the bus, since obviously the driver knew before we left. the driver responded that whoever wrote up the timeline on the website was “an idiot” and told us to call a cab from the border station, along with the four other groups that were about to miss their planes too. we jumped to the front of the customs line and shared a cab with another stranded passenger. we got to the airport with less than 45 minutes before takeoff– but, BUF is amazing and we did make our flight and the connection at JFK.

once we were safe and sound in north carolina, mike called to cancel our return trip and get a refund for our unwarranted adventure. and to file a request that they at least reflect the real timeline on their website. the manager (who called us back three days later) claimed that he would not issue a refund for the outgoing ticket because we had taken the trip, and that they would not be changing the website. eventually, we got both trips refunded, but since i don’t think they’ll be honest about their timelines anytime soon, i can only hope that some poor consumer googling “megabus” will come upon this post and know to travel at his own risk– leaving an extra four hours at least before the departing flight, if he must use this service at all.

shame on you, megabus! at least be honest with your customers and you’d have this customer booking a summer’s worth of trips and writing a rave review instead of a beware note.

…now back to your regularly scheduled blogging. tomorrow.

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