As travel times between major metro areas go, the flying time between Los Angeles and San Francisco is about as short as it gets: less than an hour in the air, and a bit longer gate-to-gate. Getting to the airport probably takes longer than the flight itself.
That explains the dearth of lie-flat seats on those flights. By the time you’ve reached cruising altitude and can recline your seat, it’s time to stow your tray table and prepare for landing.
There is a place for lie-flat seating in the West Coast corridor, however. It’s on the newly launched Sleepbus service between California’s two largest cities.
As the name suggests, Sleepbus’s signature feature is a bed, rather like those on a train’s sleeper car. But there are other amenities as well:
- Private pod with twin bed
- Pods have reading light and electric outlet
- Free WiFi
- Free coffee and tea
- No charge for three bags (and a bike)
- Premium Casper bedding with privacy curtain
- Fare: $65 each way, but $48 introductory rate
- No taxes or fees
Travel time between the Santa Monica pier and the San Francisco Caltran station at 4th and King streets is around 6.5 hours. The northbound bus leaves Santa Monica at 11 a.m., arriving the same afternoon; southbound departures are at 11 p.m., arriving the next morning.
Deal or No Deal
Price-wise, Sleepbus is more expensive than Greyhound, but much cheaper than the airlines. But even factoring in the travel time to and from the airport, and time at the airport, flying is considerably faster than busing.
Time will tell whether Sleepbus has identified a sweetspot in the travel equation, where the combination of convenience, low cost, and comfort outweighs the extra travel time.
Reader Reality Check
Bus trip, anyone?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.