Greyhound travel: The imperfect lover. Reality, the Twilight Zone and being jilted

I’m fond of Greyhound bus travel. I like the idea of humanity rolling along on a highway. I like bus people. As one bus ticket seller once told me at the station in Columbus, Ohio as she surveyed the milling about passengers in the waiting area, “If you’re hard up and you need money, anyone of these people will help you out.”

Bus people have a certain air of resignation and quiet about them. Their expectations are low. They know getting where they are going will take time so why fuss? Bus people feel as comfortable as a favorite broken in, but not broken down shoe.

On a Greyhound bus, there are just the driver and the passengers. The driver lays down the rules: No smoking of anything; no drinking; no swearing; no loud talking; no cell phones ringing, and if you make a call, keep it down. If you break the cussing, smoking and drinking rules, you’ll find yourself off the bus and in a load of trouble.

The passengers, for the most part, don’t give grief and everyone is equal. No one is better than anyone else on the bus. The driver is accessible. You can see the driver drive. You can see where you are going. The bus doesn’t have secrets.

In general, I love Greyhound because Greyhound has treated me right even when there have been problems. Greyhound does seem like a problem magnet, however.

  • The last time I took Greyhound, the driver headed the wrong way for 70 miles when we were more than halfway to our destination. This was not an easy pill to swallow.
  • Greyhound travel can be unpredictable. The departure and arrival times seem more like suggestions. There is a reason for this. Bus travel is flexible. You can buy a bus ticket the day you want to leave without it costing you an exorbitant amount.
  • Greyhound travel can feel like heading through a jungle.
  • Greyhound travel can feel like the Twilight Zone. Finding out clear information may be a problem.
  • There are people who ride the bus who may not smell good or who take up too much room. That happens on a plane too. On a bus, though, you can change seats if the bus is not full. If it is, someone will get off at the next stop so you can switch seats. Seat hell doesn’t last that long.

With the issues Greyhound has been known to have, some customers can become very, very unhappy. Greyhound might as well be the devil incarnate as far as they are concerned.

The latest person to feel this way that I know about is Miriam. Miriam does have a sad, infuriating Greyhound tale that was described in The Consumerist. If I were Miriam, I would be spitting mad. Miriam, you see, was stood up–jilted by Greyhound. How cold is that?

As Miriam describes her left holding her dance card saga, she bought a non-refundable ticket for a bus from New Haven to Boston for a 12:05 a.m. bus. Keep in mind that this just past midnight. Her prince left her at the ball.

The prince, or in Miriam’s case, the driver didn’t make the New Haven stop. Miriam was left waiting for a bus coach that never came. When she contacted Greyhound for a refund on her ticket, she was given quite the runaround until she was finally put in contact with someone in customer service. This feat alone would have done most people in.

Miriam prevailed, but the result was not what she had hoped for. She did not meet up with a fairy godmother. Instead of a refund, she was given a voucher for the full price for another Greyhound bus ticket. She was told that because she did not have a refundable ticket, she couldn’t get a refund. The company refused to see the logic that she did not make the bus because of her doing. It was Greyhound’s fault. How can a person take a bus that jilts you? Good point.

Miriam ended up canceling her American Express charge for the ticket. In essence, she created her own refund and now is so ticked at Greyhound she will never travel Greyhound again.

As for me, I’d have taken the voucher to see what other outlandish travel story I might get under my belt. There are several other woeful Greyhound tales under the comment section of Miriam’s story. Each are as sad and sort of funny in a twisted kind of way. These are great tell-at-a-party stories. If a person doesn’t travel Greyhound every once in awhile, where would such stories come from?

Oh, that’s right. There are airplane stories. I do have my reasons for never ever ever flying United.

Fly with Virgin Atlantic — get free spending money

Mileage programs are famous for offering creative rewards for flights, but this is the first that we’ve seen that actually pays you to fly.

As part of Virgin Atlantic‘s big fall promotion, frequent flyers are earning a special bonus on top of their regularly scheduled miles: gift cards. Travelers in all classes of service will be given American Express gift cards of up to $300 round trip, depending on the class of service and date flown.

It’s money that could be used to upgrade to that sweet hotel right downtown, book nicer tickets at the theater, get that extra bottle of wine at dinner or at the very least, defray the cost of transatlantic travel.

Gift cards will be issued for flights between September 15th and November 30th, with limited restrictions on class of service and tiered rewards therein. Check out Virgin’s promotion page for more details.

What strange things have been found on planes?

Don’t buy the whole plane

There’s only one shopping day left until Christmas, and you’re in a bind. Like me, you haven’t done any shopping yet. Fortunately, unlike me, you have at least $100,000 to throw down on a present for your wife, girlfriend or both. So, don’t be greedy and hoard all that cash for yourself. Give a friend the great gift of fractional jet ownership. The Flexjet 25 Expert Guide Edition jet card offers access to a fleet of private planes and the opportunity to visit places where the normal people won’t be allowed to bother you.

This is a deal that you seriously don’t want to miss. Lay down your American Express Black card by the first of the year, and you will buy love for the 12 months that follow. For prices that start at $107,900, your friend or relative (Who are you kidding? You’ll buy it for yourself …) can get some art-buying help from Barbara Guggenheim or play get schooled by World Series of Poker bracelet winner Antonio Esfandiari. Culinary, golf and tennis programs are available, too.

Basically, this is your ticket to an absurd level of conspicuous consumption.

American Express, Lonely Planet, IgoUgo, and Travel & Leisure Unite Online

That’s a lot of big names all together. And there’s one more: Travelocity. How are all these companies linked, besides under the umbrella of travel?

Answer: Amex’s new travel “sitelet” Local Color, which has destination-specific search capabilities using Lonely Planet, IgoUgo, and Travel & Leisure. Lonely Planet provides the destination guides, Travel & Leisure contributes articles about classic and up and coming destinations, and IgoUgo supplies travel reviews. If you want to book a flight, just click on the link and you’re whisked to the Amex-powered Travelocity site.

The site also has currency converters, access to “travel specialists,” and a travel support center. In fact, there are so many services that the site is practically overwhelming. But it’s fun to play around in and certainly informative.

Happy planning!