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How Flixbus works and why you should use it.

Flixbus was new to us, as it only started 2013. We used it for most of our city to city transportation recently in France. Hopefully, I can give some insight as to how it works. Its a little different than "Public Transportation."

Flixbus is a mobile ticketing system and a bus, rolled up into one thing. There are no brick and mortar Flixbus Stations to buy a ticket. You buy your ticket on line, or you buy it AT the bus. We don't have smart phones so we as a precaution printed out the tickets, but people that had smart phones just showed their ticket screens to the bus driver. The driver has a phone with a camera that will scan the "Quick Pass" target. Placing and retrieving luggage under the bus is your responsibility. Since the driver is also the ticket agent, Flixbus is very serious about you being at that bus' loading platform 20 minutes before departure. Saw several people just waved off by being late. Flixbuses do not have a toilet. But they will stop some where about 1 1/2 hour in to a route to a place that has restrooms. All the buses we rode on, were electric, very comfortable and state of the art. On line you can assign your seats. And even if its 3 Euro/ or what ever common currency, extra, we always bought the assigned seats. This worked out for us, as an unassigned person really has no idea where to sit till the bus is entirely loaded and seated. If you are unassigned, just be the last in line. Saw one traveler have to move three times to find an unassigned seat. Flixbuses do not usually go to the center of a town. They go to a "Parking Area" that is just out side the city, yet, well served by that town's local trans system. Sometimes this parking area is not with in any walking distance to town. You have to factor that in so that you are there 20 minutes before the bus leaves, and what times the local trans system works. But, Oh My!: Its unreal inexpensive going city to city, once you understand the system. :)

Posted by
26448 posts

All the buses we rode on, were electric, very comfortable and state of the art

Francis, do you mean that the buses you were on were powered by battery instead of diesel? I've passed my fair share of the greenish buses and never noticed that they had no diesel engine.

Posted by
5048 posts

Having nearly been driven off the road twice on separate trips to France by Flixbus drivers not paying attention to the road and meandering between lanes, I wouldn’t recommend them to anybody that values their safety.

Posted by
8889 posts

I was reading an article in a paper over the weekend about someone on a Flixbus who got to their destination and there luggage was no longer under the bus, someone else had taken it out at an earlier stop
What was really frightening is that this is apparently a common occurrence, and Flixbus only accepts limited responsibility for stolen or mistakenly removed luggage.

The article (in German): https://www.20min.ch/schweiz/news/story/Nach-Flixbus-Fahrt-war-Koffer-von-Schweizerin-weg-22709024

Plus, buses take about twice as long as trains to get anywhere, and are a lot less frequent.

And I don't think they are electric, just normal diesel. I have never heard of an electric long-distance bus, just local buses which go back to their depot to recharge after each day, at sometimes also at the end of each route. If they were electric Iam sure they would be shouting it from their website.

Posted by
193 posts

Thanks for sharing. I've never considered buses because I love travel in Europe on trains. But I may try Flixbus ,the arrangements sound appealing.

Posted by
2011 posts

I took my first Flixbus today, from Wrocław to Prague. A few things I'll add to the helpful comments above.

(No) Bathrooms: our journey was scheduled for 4.5 hours. With a 20-ish minute late start that was nearly 5 hours. Plus arriving early at the bus stop. Let's call it 5.5 hours. We did stop mid journey but no bathrooms in sight. Driver spoke no English, which was expected. Let's just say I'm glad I didn't have that 2nd cup of coffee this morning.

Panorama seat: I booked the front row "Panorama" seat. It's above the driver with 180 viewing. I absolutely loved the view as we drove a lot of back roads through Poland and Czech Republic. I would take the bus again just for the sightseeing from that upper front row.
Edit: no under seat storage in that front row.

Driving safety: funny to read the above mention about safety. Throughout our ride, with my bird's eye view of the road, I distinctly noticed numerous times that our driver was particularly cautious and polite, making safe choices and giving right of way. Still wore my seat belt though!

Posted by
2011 posts

I had read similar comments about luggage going missing. For this trip, I had marked my luggage with very distinct bright red stripes. And printed the Flixbus bag tags with my name and destination.

We only stopped once to drop off riders, but when we did I got out and kept an eye on my bag as others collected their luggage.

Posted by
2011 posts

Ugh painful, random experience. We crossed from Poland to Czech Republic without so much as a blink.

Posted by
6778 posts

I use a long distance bus like Flixbus to go to NYC all the time (either Bolt or Megabus), although Flixbus operates in the DC-NYC market as well as CA, TX, and some other states. Flix, Megabus, Bolt, etc. are all private bus companies, I don't believe they get any public subsidies (so they are not "public transportation"). All the buses claim to have wi-fi but I think it gets overloaded with too many people streaming, so can't count on it (not a biggie for me though). The fares are definitely cheap if you buy in advance. Like airlines, they have dynamic pricing. I've never bought an assigned seat since it's I'm almost always in the first boarding group and it's not difficult to find a free seat. Different companies or service lines have different rules (same with the bathroom - I can't imagine having no bathroom on a long trip on the bus, but then again, the bus drivers in the US don't have to stop every 2 hours by law so that makes a difference). It does appear like Flix introduced electric buses in France.
https://global.flixbus.com/company/press-room/press-releases/flixbus-begins-ebus-line-france

Just to clear up any confusion, mobile or web-based payment and tickets are more common on BOTH public and private systems. It's not an "either...or". Commerce has shifted rapidly to online and mobile in recent years, so no need for brick and mortar ticket kiosks.

Posted by
19523 posts

I don't know of any reason why luggage theft would be more of an issue on a FlixBus than on any other long-distance bus. Although I take trains when they are practical, I go to a lot of secondary cities that aren't directly linked by express train, so I have spent many an hour on European inter-city buses. I have not worried about my luggage. Nor have I observed other travelers standing near the luggage hold, complaining that something has gone missing. I am not claiming that it doesn't happen, because I'm certain it does, but I think it must be very infrequent. It may be a bit more common in lower-income countries where the ordinary stuff a western traveler has in his bag is more likely to be financially out of reach of many local people.

When I hear about the random theft of luggage in a situation like this, I wonder why one particular bag was chosen. I think there may be an advantage to using relatively cheap luggage.

Posted by
3477 posts

I don't know of any reason why luggage theft would be more of an issue on a FlixBus

"Placing and retrieving luggage under the bus is your responsibility"

Seems it would be very easy for someone to grab the wrong bag in error (or on purpose if they are inclined) if there is no one checking tags or otherwise verifying who belongs to what bag. Every bus service I have ever taken always has someone working for the company responsible for loading and unloading luggage and usually verifying tags.

Posted by
2011 posts

My bus today was about 1/4 full. The wifi worked once, so I know it was operational. When I tried again later.... no luck. I used my data plan.

Posted by
741 posts

As Sam posted we were also stopped just after a rest stop for a full inspection. Not Pass Ports, but everyone had to claim their luggage and be subject to individual luggage searches, in country, not crossing a border. It was kind of weird. I don't think Fiixbus has anything to do with this problem at all. And maybe they are being targeted as a disruptive start up competition to the established Unions. I did sense that. On two of the trips, the French toll road system, would not accept the Flixbus beacon for the fast trans lane. So it had to be done manually. That was weird. So maybe, there is some sort of political stuff going on here with Flixbus. As outsiders, its just cheaper than the alternatives to us. :)

Posted by
19523 posts

I have rarely, if ever, had a bus-company employee tag luggage put in the hold; maybe a few times in the former Iron Curtain countries. Sometimes the driver or another company employee lifts the bag into the hold for me, but I'm a 67-year-old female, so I'm not sure they do that for everyone. A lot of the time there is no employee around the hold of the bus when I retrieve my luggage, and even if there is, I don't expect him or her to remember who had which bag. The main focus during the loading process seems to be separating bags by destination. That's obviously not a factor if the bus is an express from City A to City B, but in that situation there's no opportunity for someone to steal a bag at an intervening stop.

Posted by
2145 posts

@Francis: I wonder if the search had to do with control of immigration. Buses are used for transportation by many different persons.

Posted by
1878 posts

I took FlixBus from Krakow to Wroclaw last year and it worked great. Bus was 100% full though and legroom was very limted. Wish we had shown up twenty minutes prior to get a seat, as my travel partner and I had to sit apart. Train on this route was a lot less convenient.

Posted by
9863 posts

I, for one, will stick with the train. Toilets, dining cars, ability to move around, luggage in view.

Posted by
2011 posts

From a practical standpoint, Laurel, I agree with you. If it was a normal seat on the bus, I wouldn't do that long trip again. A shorter trip, absolutely.

My "panoramic" front row view of the Polish and Czech countrysides was a memorable sightseeing experience that I wouldn't trade for a train and won't soon forget.

Posted by
8434 posts

I took a Flixbus last year from Frankfurt-Trier and then returned to Frankfurt. The place we got on the bus was around the corner from the main Frankfurt train station and it dropped us at the Trier train station. It was faster than the train. There was a bathroom on board. I didn't use it, but my travel companion did. She said it was disgusting. We did make a stop that had a bathroom of anyone needed it. In the right circumstances I would use Flixbus again.

Posted by
1097 posts

I took Flixbus a few years ago from Venice to Ljubljana because the trains were not operating. The hardest part for me was actually getting to the departure point in Venice. There were no clear instructions and if there hadn’t been a group of guys on the vaporetto taking the bus to go home, I never would have figured it out.
I thought that I had done my research... but I was wrong...
But the bus itself was comfortable and the trip pleasant and scenic.

Posted by
4671 posts

I used Flixbus a couple of years ago from Annecy to Lyon - it was just as fast as the train (the train route is quite slow while the coach takes the motorway most of the way - and it was fine. Didn't see any sign of bad driving.

Posted by
18064 posts

On the Flixbus website, I only see being able to purchase tickets a day or so before travel, and these tickets are only refundable for a voucher less refund charge. Do they allow you to buy tickets from the driver at the time of travel? What price?

Update: OK, I found part of the answer here. You can buy a walk-up ticket, but there is no guarantee one will be available and they didn't say at what price. And advance purchase fares go up as you approach travel time. For rail tickets, trains have a lot more seats than buses. You can usually find a regional train with seats available without advance purchase, and if no seats, you can stand until one is available.

I would say that having to book in advance, even for a short trip, like Munich to Salzburg, is a disadvantage of Flixbus. I certainly wouldn't call them "Flexbus".

Posted by
741 posts

We bought our Flixbus tickets from Lyon to Aix a month ahead of time.

Other questions:

The three times we used Flixbus, in France, Aix to Nimes, Aix to Avignon and Lyon to Aix, all the buses, we rode on, were 100% electric. Other peoples' mileage may vary. :) This was our experience in September 2019.

I don't think we were stopped and de-boarded on the way to Nimes because of immigration. The security people only wanted to associate baggage with a rider. They separated us in to two groups... those that had under bus stowage and people with carry on. We only had carry-on. Fortunately for us, everyone claimed their stowed baggage: And that was all the security persons seemed interested in. They did not search the luggage. They didn't check passports or any thing else. This was however, a bus that was to go to Spain as a final destination.

I had no idea when starting this thread that Flixbus was so large and operated in so many areas. I can only report what I've personally experienced and that is admittedly, fairly limited. I can say from my limited experience that Flixbus offers travel times and destinations that usual "Public Transportation" does not, and at a price that is the lowest one can find. :) Just "be aware'" that it is somewhat different than other traditional, transportation options.

Posted by
4409 posts

Flixbus has been operational in Austria for years. It is a very popular choice for travel. Nothing new.