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Unless you’re Jeff Bezos, flights don’t really offer door-to-door service.
So when you want to take a flight, you’ll have to factor in getting to the airport. Although you could try to convince every friend, sibling, and neighbor in the area to drive you there, you might be on your own.
Enter our hero: the bus.
Buses offer frequent service directly to airports in many cities and save the day when your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister isn’t available to drive you to the airport either.
To jump from bus seat to plane seat without breaking a sweat, read up on our tips and tricks for taking the bus to the airport. You’ll be a travel pro in no time.
Why take a bus to the airport?
If only you could teleport to the airport. Aside from teleportation, buses are an affordable and convenient option to arrive at airports that are often located far outside of the city center.
You might consider taking the bus for these primary reasons:
- Buses are cheap. Sure, you could take an Uber or a Lyft to the airport if you’re cool with giving up your firstborn 👶. In a post-Covid world, rideshare apps and taxis have become wildly expensive, and in some cities, they charge an extra fee for transporting you to the airport. A cheap bus ticket is going to be much easier on the wallet.
- You’ll be a good friend. Buses exist to help you travel! Your friends do not. So instead of relying on a friend to wake up at the crack of dawn and personally chauffeur you to the airport, do the selfless thing and take the bus.
- Buses provide direct access to inconvenient airports. You know when you fly into London, only to find out somehow you’ve landed in a town called Longford? Luckily, a bus can take you from Heathrow Airport (in Longford) into London. Many other airports in North America and Europe are located far away from the downtown area where you’ll want to stay and explore. Getting to and from the airport requires an extra leg of ground travel, and that’s where a bus is your best friend.
- You can become a travel hacker. Dedicated budget travelers can save big $$ by booking flights in or out of the second-closest or even third-closest airport to your destination. For example, if you’re heading to San Francisco, check if cheaper flights arrive in Sacramento instead. A $10 bus ticket will get you the rest of the way from Sacramento to San Francisco.
Planning your bus trip to the airport
Now that extra travel leg doesn’t sound too bad, does it? We recommend planning ahead to minimize your travel stress (👋 Type A travelers!), so here are our tips and tricks for booking the best bus to the airport:
How to find buses that arrive at the airport
Let’s say you live in Tampa but booked a flight that departs from Orlando International Airport. Wanderu can help you find bus options to close the gap.
The first step is to type in your departure and arrival cities (for the bus, not the flight). Then, Wanderu’s search results will show you all of the buses and trains traveling on that route on your selected date.
Next, you’ll want to head to the filters section. This is on the left side of the screen on a computer or accessible by clicking “FILTERS” at the top left on your phone.
The key to booking airport buses is looking at the Stations filter.
In our example, you’re looking for a bus that will arrive at the Orlando International Airport. In the Arrival Station filter, we see that one of the available stations is Orlando International Airport – you can also click the Map button to see the exact arrival location on Google Maps. When you uncheck all arrival stations except Orlando International Airport, the search results will show you only buses that arrive at the airport.
Each search result also lists the station locations (both arrival and departure) under the departure and arrival times.
Now you are ready to pick the bus option with the best timing for your flight and complete your booking!
Speaking of timing, how much time should you leave between the bus’ scheduled arrival at the airport and your flight’s scheduled departure?
The short answer: As much as possible.
The long answer: Any extra leg of travel includes the risk of delays. While bus carriers do everything they can to ensure on-time arrival, some delays are unavoidable.
To avoid missing your flight, plan to book a bus scheduled to arrive at the airport at least one hour before you have to be at the airport (not before your flight). For example, if you have a flight at 4:00 pm and want to arrive two hours earlier to check-in at the airport (2:00 pm), aim to book a bus with a scheduled arrival time before 1:00 pm.
If your bus arrives on schedule, great! That means more time for you to shop at Duty-Free 🛍️
If your bus has some delays, no worries. The extra wiggle room in your day means you will still be able to make it to your gate in time for boarding.
When in doubt, leave more time between your bus trip and your flight.
Day of travel
The big day is here! And since you’ve already booked your transportation to the airport, the hard part is over. Thank you, buses 🚌
Any travel itinerary requires keeping your wits about you, though, especially when you’re combining a bus and a flight. We have a few extra tips to make your travel day as easy, breezy, beautiful as possible.
- Keep track of your luggage
Know how much baggage you’re allowed to bring on the bus, and then make sure you don’t leave anything behind when you arrive at the airport. Don’t worry; you can keep your shoes on for the bus leg of the trip.
- Check where the bus drops off at the airport
Airports are huge! Ensure you know where the bus will be arriving in the airport complex and where you need to check-in for your flight. Refer to your confirmation email for the bus’ arrival stop address.
- Know which airport terminal you’re heading to
Some buses make multiple stops at the airport to let passengers off at each terminal. You can check with the bus driver if your bus makes multiple stops, and if so, pay attention so you can deboard at the correct terminal.
Once you arrive at the airport, you know the drill. ✈️
Even if your friends are flaky and refuse to drive you to the airport, Wanderu is here for you. And we’ll help you find the cheapest bus to the airport for your next trip. With these tips and tricks in mind, nothing can stop you now!