Sometimes it pays to be late

My plans for the next few years are murky at best, but in the short term, an option I’m considering is to take a trip out to California (it would be my first!). Here’s the Greyhound schedule for that journey:

This schedule is so streamlined that the longest layover isn’t even enough time to catch a movie. It’s an absurd display of modern efficiency: even for someone without physical limitations it would be a stressful, unpleasant journey.

But what of the alternative? Buy your tickets for the same set of dates, but as two separate purchases (NYC to Denver and then from Denver to LA), and the price shoots up from $126 to $199. In other words, saying that I’d like to sleep in a hotel for at least one night on a cross-country journey will add to the hotel and taxi a surcharge for the privilege of splitting my bus trip into two legs.

I assume that the average consumer would be fairly offended if they noticed this pricing disparity. But I find it humorous for a reason that only frequent Greyhound travelers are likely to know: you can use tickets on any day after they were originally purchased! By not paying for a ticket in the expected way you can take the same route – that is, the very same bus - for less money than if you told them you were coming.

Now, having set up the joke, so here’s the punchline: buying a ticket does not guarantee you a seat on that bus on that time slot in the first place! Here’s hoping you didn’t already know that – I had to learn it the hard way.

(Disclaimer: As long as the route is running that day and the bus is not full, it won’t be a problem. However, I have never been able to get a straight answer as to their policy about this, and if you get turned down at the gate it’s not my fault.)

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