HOUSTON – It's changing the way people are traveling across Texas. From the moment you step aboard Vonlane, you know it's not just any old bus liner.
KPRC 2 News was instantly greeted by our hostess, Chasity.
“Good morning, Mr. Conflenti. Welcome aboard.”
And owner Alex Danza said Vonlane luxury coach liner is like nothing else on the Texas roadways.
“We call it a private jet on wheels,” Danza said.
“Twenty-two seats, all first class seats, DirecTV available, XM satellite radio at every seat you can listen to, complimentary high speed Wi-Fi, great, reliable internet,” are just some of the amenities listed that you can enjoy when you step on board.
The coaches also have reclining leather seats, work stations, wood floors and a full size restroom.
Danza said the idea was to give passengers everything they may need while traveling.
“Neck pillows, sleeping masks, shoe shine -- we've got everything aboard here," he said. "(We have) noise-cancelling headsets, so that's a great deal there."
Passengers can bring as much luggage as they'd like. There is never a charge.
Scroll below to see virtual tour of the luxury bus liner
And with three daily trips leaving from downtown Houston to Dallas and Austin, Danza said besides the luxurious ride, Vonlane offers customers convenience without the airport hassles.
“They arrive five minutes before departure, they climb aboard, you don't have to put away your device for takeoff. You know, the laptop is up for the full three hours and they are working. They are very, very productive,” he says of his travelers.
KPRC 2 News talked to some passengers who are sold on the concept.
One passenger said, “I tried a traditional flight. It was costly. I knew I'd be fighting the airport and (it) just didn't seem worth it. So I heard about Vonlane and booked it. I just loved it.”
Another passenger who uses Vonlane for business said he's taken at least 60 rides on the carrier, and besides the price and amenities, he's happy he gets to avoid the hustle and bustle of the airport.
“No TSA. It's just really, really top-notch,” he said.
So just how does a trip on Vonlane stack up to a flight? We crunched the numbers to find out.
First up: Price. On Vonlane, a round-trip ticket from Houston to Dallas is $178. If you plan two weeks in advance, a round-trip flight averages around $250.
Now, for the travel time. Downtown to Hobby airport is about 22 minutes in traffic. Add another 10 minutes to find parking and make it to the terminal.
If you're already checked in and head straight to security, let's estimate the line is 30 minutes long. Add another 45-minute wait at the gate, an hour of flight time, plus an extra 30 minutes to get to your final destination. The total time for this flight scenario is three hours and 17 minutes.
Vonlane logs the total trip time from downtown Houston to Dallas at 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Danza said, “Your alternatives to traveling in Texas are to fly in a very large commercial aircraft, with very little leg room, very little personal space, or to drive yourself, which is exhausting on the Texas highways, as you know.”
Vonlane is attracting business travelers and families. They even allow minors to travel unaccompanied, a feature Danza said is very attractive to parents who co-parent with someone in another city.
About 60 percent of the riders are business travelers, but they're not the only ones hopping on board.The surprise has been the leisure traveler,” Danza said.
He said his company's goal is to deliver safe rides and great customer service.
“We're not a bus company. We're not a motor coach company. We're a service company,” Danza said.
Starting in February 2017, Vonlane plans to offer service between San Antonio and Houston.