Back in November, Catherine wrote a post about Greyhound’s $5 extra per ticket priority boarding, seat assignment system. After a month of trying it out, the system must be working well because it was expanded in December to include a large portion of Greyhound’s departure cities. (see news release) Not all trips from the departure cities are elibible for priority boarding, however.
The main purpose, I think, from the passenger’s perspective is to help allieviate the stress of wondering if you’ll get a seat on the bus at all, or have to wait for another. Also, you have more likely a chance to get your choice of either an aisle or window seat. Since the system lets you pick your actual seat, say goodbye to the risk of getting stuck next to the bathroom. If traveling with kids, it helps guarantee that you’re not going to need to ask a passenger if he or she would move so you can sit with your child.
Less stress means you’ll be more likely to take the bus which can be a real economic deal. For the bus company, $5 for a passenger isn’t all that much, but put all those $5 together and you have a money boost.
However, as Catherine pointed out, you can’t get the priority boarding over the Internet. It’s only available at the bus station which does mean waiting in line at some point unless you head to the bus station during a non-busy time. If you happen to live in or near a town or city with a Greyhound station, you can go 30 days in advance or less to purchase the priority boarding. If you want to take your chances, you can purchase priority boarding 20 minutes before your trip.
In order for your priority seating to be honored, you need to be at the gate 20 minutes before your departure time.
If the bus station is as packed as it was when my dad attempted to take the bus from Columbus to Cincinnati, having priority boarding would have assured him a seat if I had gone to the bus station a day or so earlier to get it. The day of the trip would have been too late, although he was traveling the day before Thanksgiving so bus travel was at a high. If you’re traveling in the summer, I bet it’s a similar situation.
The thing is, you can’t get priority boarding yet out of Columbus, but all buses out of Cincinnati and Cleveland have the option. Still, if there’s a smoother way out of those two cities, it should translate to an easier time in Columbus. My dad’s bus was delayed for hours in Cleveland which is why he never managed to actually take the bus.
For a list of all the available priority boarding cities, click here.