Flight canceled? These are your best options for getting to your US destination

The aviation industry consists of many components working together in perfect harmony to operate effectively day after day. But when even one of these components misfires, the entire system is often disrupted, resulting in a domino effect of delays or flight cancellations which pose major inconveniences for travelers. So why are flights being canceled? The following list includes some of the main reasons for delays or flight cancellations today: 

  • Bad weather such as thunderstorms, snowstorms, heavy rains, strong winds and low visibility interfere with safe take-offs and landings
  • Flight or crew scheduling issues 
  • Mechanical issues with airplanes or other airport equipment, such as baggage handling or security equipment
  • Computer glitches
  • Air traffic control capacity issues
  • Security threats

The high price of delays and flight cancellations

Needless to say, delays and flight cancellations pose major inconveniences to business and leisure travelers alike, causing them to miss important meetings and valuable vacation time. According to a recent study by Forbes Magazine, 61% of travelers experienced a delay or flight cancellation in the summer of 2022, and 83% lost money as a result. These monetary losses often extend well beyond the airport, resulting in losses on pre-paid hotel rooms and other pre-paid activities.

According to the United States Bureau of Transportation, in April 2023, the top five airlines with the lowest percentages of on-time flights included:

  • Hawaiian Airlines (56% on-time)
  • Spirit Airlines (60% on-time)
  • JetBlue (65% on-time)
  • Frontier Airlines (65% on-time)
  • Allegiant Air (72% on-time)

Stranded at the airport, frustrated passengers experiencing delays or flight cancellations often feel they have no choice but to try and reschedule or simply wait it out, often spending extremely uncomfortable nights on airport floors.

As a result, more and more travelers have begun rethinking their transportation choices and are now considering buses, trains and carpooling for their travel needs. For many routes, there are numerous advantages of choosing ground transportation, as they represent some of the most affordable and flexible options for getting from Point A to Point B.

Buses as a viable travel alternative

Travel by bus is often overlooked, but it offers numerous advantages over flying and can be a viable alternative in many instances. Here are just a few of the reasons you might want to consider taking a bus for your next vacation: 


Buses tend to be more affordable than flying (and sometimes even more affordable than driving!). The money you save can be put toward other things during your trip — maybe a meal at that famous restaurant you’ve seen on Instagram, an additional museum or even an extra night at a hotel.

Additionally, there are no supplemental baggage fees when you take the bus. Most bus companies in the U.S. allow for one suitcase of up to 50 pounds as well as one carry-on of up to 20 pounds. Passengers also usually have the option of traveling with additional luggage or with larger items like bikes or skis for an additional fee.

Comfort & Convenience

Travel by bus can also be less stressful than flying — no more standing in long security lines, wondering if you’ll make it to your gate on time! It’s also more comfortable compared to flying, as the seats tend to be wider, and there’s more legroom. Buses also have much larger windows than airplanes, so you won’t feel as claustrophobic, and you can look out the window and enjoy the scenery.  

Of course, buses are not made for the best night of sleep of your life, which can make long overnight trips a little bit challenging if you’re a light sleeper. But the buses still tend to offer a more comfortable experience than taking a long flight, as the seats are in general more cozy. 

Although bus classes are not yet widely common on US buses, some companies already offer different degrees of comfort on their buses. RedCoach, a Florida/Texas-based company, offers more luxurious buses with wide seats that recline enough to make a good night’s sleep.

If you’re fortunate enough to be journeying along the New York – Washington DC route, you can pamper yourself by opting for one of the country’s most upscale buses – The Jet. This extraordinary mode of travel offers a truly high-end experience, ensuring your journey is as exceptional as your destination.

The Jet's superior travel experience
The Jet’s superior travel experience


Traveling by bus also provides more flexibility than flying, as buses tend to stop at more locations (including smaller cities and towns) and make more connections. With a bit of creative planning, you can go virtually anywhere in the U.S. by bus. 

For example, say you need to travel between two smaller cities that are approximately 300 miles apart but have no direct flights between them. With a layover, this trip could easily take seven or eight hours by plane, whereas by bus, that same trip might take only a few hours. 

To get from Charlotte to Atlanta takes about 3h15, and a round-trip ticket costs approximately $40. Or for approximately the same price and the same amount of time, you can travel from Miami to Orlando, for example. And there’s no stress in terms of missing your connecting flight. Just board the bus, sit back and relax!

Various choices of bus companies

In the world of bus travel across the USA, you’ve got a ton of companies to pick from. It’s like a collection of options, each with its own vibe and perks. 

Among the most popular bus companies is Greyhound, which operates in almost every state in the US and some destinations in Canada, too. Flixbus entered the US market recently, but after buying Greyhound, expanded its fleet and coverage quickly to cover a large number of destinations around the country. 

Another good choice is Trailways, which connects small towns to big cities around the country and has a number of subsidiaries, like Adirondack Trailways, New York Trailways, and many more. They’re especially famous for their services in the northeast of the US. If you’re in Florida or Texas, RedCoach is a fancier way to get around, as they have comfortable buses with different types of seats.

RedCoach bus
RedCoaches’ first class experience

Most buses have amenities like Wi-Fi, plugs, bathrooms, air conditioning, and seats that can lean back. Even though many companies offer similar conveniences, they each have some differences. These can be how much of the country they cover, luggage allowances, flexibility in terms of cancellation and how easy it is to change your plans, and the extras they provide.

For example, Greyhound and Flixbus both cover a lot of ground, while Adirondack Trailways is known for being extra helpful, especially in customer service. If you’re traveling in the middle of the country, Jefferson Lines is a good choice, and BestBus is a convenient way to travel the northeast corridor. Other companies like Barons Bus, OurBus, Go Buses, and Southeastern Stages also add to the options.

Knowing these differences can help you pick the best bus for your trip, so you can have a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

Southeastern Stages bus

Trains as a viable travel alternative 

Another good alternative to airline travel is travel by train. In the United States, Amtrak is the only operator that offers long-distance train services. Besides Amtrak’s regional trains around the country, the company also has a high-speed service with 13 stops in the northeast corridor, known as the Acela Express.

Taking a train offers many of the same advantages as taking a bus, including lower prices (compared to flights), more connections between smaller cities, roomier seats with more legroom and larger windows for enjoying the scenery. This is especially important when you consider that trains also tend to travel through scenic “back way” routes with lots of nature to observe and enjoy.

Additional amenities

In addition to the bathroom facilities and Wi-Fi you’ll find onboard most buses, many long-distance trains also have dining cars where you can purchase food and beverages during your trip. Getting up and walking to the dining car is also a great opportunity to stretch your legs on a longer trip.

On some trains, you can even purchase a ticket for a private room where seats transform into beds, allowing you to lie down and get some well-deserved rest. You’ll arrive at your destination 100% refreshed. 

Where to take the trains in the United States

Amtrak travels to more than 500 locations throughout the United States, including major cities, suburbs, and smaller towns. Travelers can choose between 30 different routes, which means there are many ways to avoid air travel and the hassle of airports. 

If you’re looking for the shorter popular routes, chances are these ones will make your list:

The Northeast Corridor

The Northeast Corridor route runs between cities like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., making it a popular choice for commuters and travelers seeking efficient city-to-city connections. 

Another choice for the same route is taking the high-end service of the Acela Express, which travels between Washington DC and Boston (through NYC and Philadelphia) with a total travel time of about 7 hours (driving takes much longer when you consider the heavy traffic that’s typically encountered in these cities). The price for a one-way ticket currently goes for about $190.

Northeast regional train
Northeast Regional train

Explore the Midwest

If you’re in the Midwest, the Hiawatha service connects Milwaukee and Chicago. This short trip takes about 1h30 and costs about $30, each way. These short-haul routes offer an excellent way to enjoy scenic views and avoid traffic while quickly reaching your destination.

From Portland to Seattle

If you’re considering a journey between Portland and Seattle, which spans around 175 miles, why not consider the ease and comfort of traveling by train? Amtrak provides a convenient connection between these vibrant cities. With an average cost of about $40 and a travel time of approximately 3h30, you can relax and enjoy the scenic ride while avoiding the hassle of driving.

The unique experience of long-haul train trips

At first glance, long train trips might seem like a bad idea compared to a few hours on a plane. But trust us, these trips are not about the destination, but about the ride. Exploring the US on a train is one of the most authentic experiences you can have and a unique way to see the country. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

The Empire Builder train

For cross-country trips, the Empire Builder train from Chicago (IL) to Spokane (WA) is acclaimed for the scenic views it offers as it travels through the Rocky Mountains and across the Pacific Northwest. This is absolutely a one-of-a-kind experience, and the views justify the total travel time of 44 hours. Of course, many travelers opt to face this route in slow-traveler mode, making stops along the way and getting to know the sights.

The average price for a round-trip coach ticket is currently under $400 (beautiful mountain views included), which is not that expensive considering the number of hours you’ll spend inside the train. Still, you can find tickets for half of that price, depending on when you book. 

Find train tickets from Chicago to Spokane

Amtrak Empire Builder
Amtrak Empire Builder

The Texas Eagle route

Another option for the train aficionados is the Texas Eagle, the longest Amtrak cross-country train route in the US. In 2022, about 250 thousand travelers took the train from Chicago to Los Angeles, making many stops throughout the 4 thousand miles ride through the heart of the country. This scenic ride takes you deep into the heart of Texas and continues on through New Mexico and Arizona and to its final stop in Los Angeles. 

Amtrak Texas Eagle route
Amtrak Texas Eagle route

What’s notable about this route is that it takes you as close as you can get to the Mexican border and travels through picturesque deserts and the ever-changing landscapes of the American Southwest. 

This trip is a long one, approximately three days and three hours. Booking a sleeper car will set you back a couple of thousand dollars for a round-trip ticket, but this is a trip you’d likely take for the experience and not just for getting to a particular destination. The cheapest standard tickets start at $149, which is a great deal for this kind of experience.

Find tickets for the Chicago to Los Angeles train

Carpooling is also an option

One additional travel option we would feel remiss in not mentioning is carpooling or ride-sharing. Carpooling is often the most affordable option compared to traveling by bus or train since gas is typically the only expense and it’s usually shared among all passengers. 

However, there can be safety concerns with carpooling. Questions you should ask yourself before joining a carpool include: How well is the car maintained, especially the tires and brakes?  Do you trust who you’re riding with? What are the agreements regarding smoking, music, food, etc.?

Lastly, carpooling may not be as convenient as other modes of transportation since you need to find other people who are traveling to the same destination on the same day and at the same time, but it can be a viable option under certain circumstances, especially for short trips Don’t forget to check the driver’s reputation before setting up your trip.

Chose your way to go

Yes, delays and flight cancellations can happen to anyone and to any type of transportation. And they’ll always pose numerous challenges for travelers. Still, it’s good to remember that there are alternatives to flying and that taking a plane may not always be the best option for getting from Point A to Point B – both for you and the environment. Buses and trains, while often overlooked, present viable alternatives to air travel.

If you need help finding a way to reach your next destination, Busbud provides a convenient and easy-to-use platform for finding the cheapest and most convenient bus or rail itineraries. We’ve partnered with all the major transportation companies, including Greyhound, Flixbus, Amtrak, Acela and thousands of others to give you a wide range of options that provide a viable alternative to flying. 

Whether you’re traveling cross-country or just from one city to the next, check out Busbud to plan your next trip. It’s easy, safe and convenient.