Reminiscent of the bygone era when flying, bus and train transportation used to be great, Vonlane has brought back luxurious bus travel in the Texas triangle, which are the cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Vonlane touts itself as the private jet on wheels. I heard about Vonlane through my relatives and from online posts. I recently had the opportunity to ride Vonlane for myself due to a conference behing held in Austin. In the past I would’ve flown down the Austin, but I don’t like having to go to the airport really early in the morning and then being treated like a cattle herd when boarding a flight. Besides that a flight from Dallas to Austin is only 30-40 minutes, which isn’t worth the hassle of waking up two hours early and getting stressed about it. Then there are the TSA pat downs!
This ride on a luxury bus and my review of my experience on Vonlane. Upon boarding, a welcome mat is placed at the door of the bus and I was greeted by the my attendant Lisa, she was very cool and attentive. She showed me the amenities of the seating area. One thing you’ll notice is lots and lots of leg room and wide plush leather seats with a power recliner. There was a full leg recliner that was against the seat in front of me but could completely come down to where my seat was. I used that for the whole ride. We were provided bottled water immediately. Once we picked up everyone else at the Double Tree Love Field hotel front entrance, we departed for Austin, the ride was great because the driver avoided the morning traffic and drove through a number of small towns. Vonlane has DirectTV onboard the bus and had both CNN and HGTV on the TV during the whole trip. If you had your own earphones you can listen to music or watch TV. Also you can borrow Vonlane’s noise canceling headphones, if you didn’t bring your own. We were offered complimentary drinks and snacks. Vonlane offers a variety of complimentary beverage options onboard, from coffee, Naked juice, Red Bull, Perrier sparking water, sodas, to bottled water. Lisa passed around snacks, and there are a lot of snack options in the basket to choose from, from granola bars, KIND bars, trail mix peanuts, pretzels and potato chips Since my departure from Dallas was at 6am, there was no meal service, though I did get instant oatmeal and a coffee. Lisa asked if I wanted another beverage and I requested a Naked Green Machine juice.
I was able to relax all the way down to Austin, either enjoying the scenery of the Texas countryside or taking a quick nap. You can also browse the web and check your emails with the onboard free WIFI. Once we got near Austin the bus driver took highway 130, which avoids the congested I-35 corridor. However, once we got onto highway 290 and onto I-35 then we saw all the traffic heading into downtown.
We arrived at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Austin across the river from the city. This is one nice thing about Vonlane, it drops you off right in the city. There is no need for that expensive cab ride all the way from Bergstrom Airport. Since there is no Lyft or Uber in Austin, there are a few taxis waiting outsde the Hyatt to take you were you need to go.
The 6pm departure back to Dallas was more of the same, show your ID upon boarding and go sit in your assigned seat. There were 14 passengers that evening. However, since being it was rush hour, one of the passengers arrived right at 6pm departure just as the bus was about the leave. The late passenger checked in and quickly went to park his car at the Hyatt’s parking garage. After the 10 minute delay we hit the road back to Dallas. Vonlane recommends you be at the bus 15 minutes early and ready for departure, however, upon seeing that I can tell Vonlane was a different experience and very understanding its customers, unlike the ruthless airlines closing the departure door 30 minutes prior and not letting a passenger board the flight even if the plane is still at the gate.
The evening ride back up to Dallas offered a meal service. I passengers were given a choice of a chicken ceasar salad or a chick caesar wrap, I asked for the wrap and a bottled water. The attendant on this trip back to Dallas was McKenzie, she was also cool and very attentive to all on board. McKenzie kept the driver informed on traffic with updates on the phone. Once we were on I-35E passing Waxahachie, she informed the driver there was a traffic jam due to an accident. The driver then got off the interstate and took local roads. Eventually, the driver was able to detour through the congested section and head back on to the interstate and to the Double Tree hotel. We were late 20 minutes, but then again that is because of the 10 minute late departure from Austin and the stoplights along the local streets.
The Vonlane bus I rode on is a Prevost X3-45, fitted with luxurious amenities other than just the roomy and plush leather seats. The rear had a mini kitchen complete with a kitchen sink. There is also a four seat conference table for those who need more space. USB and 110V outlets keep your life connected, charge your batteries before arrival or get some work done with table trays in the seatback pockets. The restroom on board has a porcelain toilet for those wondering.
The Vonlane experience is truly like having your own private jet. It was one of the best travel experiences I had in a long time. The attention to you as a passenger is something you will never experience onboard an airline, especially on a short 30-40 minute flight to another city. I highly recommend those who need to get around the Texas triangle to give Vonlane a try.
Vonlane currently travels between Austin, Dallas, and Houston, but soon they’ll be adding a route to San Antonio.