Flixbus is a large budget bus company that operates all over Europe and the USA. My first ever Flixbus experience was not perfect! The bus came an hour late and there was no information. I was standing at a bus stop with no signs, so I didn't even know if I was at the right stop. It seemed that everybody (3 others) were just as confused. It is safe to say my Flixbus review at that time was a bad one.
I totally understand that travel can turn sour. I know things can go wrong. It doesn't matter if you are an experienced traveller or a newbie, planned or winging it. Things are bound to go wrong. That is just the way it is. I understand how budget transport works and I totally see that you get what you pay for.
My next experience of Flixbus was when a friend had booked a bus from Paris to London but realised the company have their bus stop in the middle of a dark and dingy park in Paris and her bus was at midnight. I thought nothing of this but she is cautious and looked at reviews. Again, bad Flixbus reviews. The stories talked about pickpockets and sexual harassment of someone's daughter. I mean come on Flixbus - Midnight buses with a secluded park pickup - in Paris!
But hey, they are cheap and available everywhere! I remember the days of European bus travel being with Eurolines. Now Eurolines were good. They had a professional brand and felt trusted. Flixbus - how the hell did they get on the top! Is it because they promise wifi and powerpoints! - well, only a small percentage of their buses ever really have that.
I am going to give you the short story first but I must mention that even if this had not happened to me, I still dislike Flixbus. The tones of reviews you can see on their Facebook page tell off their terrible customer service, dodgy ways and constant lateness without communication. With this story aside I give them a 1 out of 5. Now that this has happened to me and I looked into other stories, I give them a 0 out of 1000. But here is the story.
Upon travelling on a Flixbus from Prague to Budapest, the bus made an unexpected "mechanical stop". We all got off the bus and the short story is that the bus left without us. When we tried to contact customer service, we ended up with a "It's not our problem" kind of excuse and no help. Flixbus and all their staff, call centre, drivers, complaints guy - all were unhelpful. We were stuck in a bad situation. Our passports and belongings were on the bus. We were in the middle of a Czech highway. At the end of the story, Flixbus ended up stealing from our bags and the "complaints guy" Silke claimed it was not their problem.
If that is all the information you need to make a decision on this company, then I'm glad. If not, here is the longer story as well as links to other peoples stories that are similar.
I'm travelling from Prague to Budapest with my boyfriend and younger cousin. It was her first time overseas and she is only 19. I was trusted with making sure things went well on this trip. The journey is going fine so far until we step on the Flixbus. There are three of us sitting in the back seat. The journey is 9 hours. Before the border to Slovakia, the bus stopped by near a restaurant/bar. It was an unscheduled "mechanical stop" so we take the time to charge our phones in the restaurant. The rest of the bus all pile into the restaurant. We sit around discussing arrival plans.
Then we notice no one from the bus is in the restaurant and I tell my cousin to check on the bus. I check the time and its 2.56. We had to be back at the bus at 3 pm My boyfriend is in the bathroom. My Cousin comes back to tell me the bus is still there but everyone is going inside. I say "okay you go to the bus and I'll wait here for Jamie, we should probably get to the bus a min or two earlier". Suddenly, she comes back and says the bus has gone.
My heart SUNK. "Okay, Okay... stay calm," I thought. Whilst really thinking "WE ARE FUCKED!" Whilst also thinking "How the HELL can this happen!
There was a noisy family with a kid sitting right next to us, sharing the back seat! Surely they noticed we were missing. Jamie has jumped on the phone to call Flixbus, we used Sarah, my cousin's phone and got her to wait on hold. Time seemed to be going so slow. It grew more and more painful with every new "your call is important to us..."
Meanwhile, I was really trying to keep it cool for the sake of my little cousin. She had been smart. Her overloaded handbag had contained her passport and she took it with her. Her mum had drilled into her "do not leave your passport behind" from day one (maybe even from the day she was born) but mocking aside, it clearly had worked.
I just couldn't believe my ears "nothing we can do" was the answer I got. Despite telling the "customer service" team that we were left in the middle of a highway and had nothing with us! Despite the panic as I would repeat "our passports are on the bus" The bus that left us. The bus that couldn't do a head count. The bus with that assho... *okay calm down Bec*
The customer service team basically had no way to contact the drivers. The drivers are contractors. Nothing in their system could assist us and to be honest, I don't think they cared. No interest in really trying. We had called several times and spoken to several different people but the answer was the same "nothing we can do". There was a note placed on their system but the drivers didn't get that note. (So what was the point of the note!)
The ability to think straight and logically was passing me by as my head was filled with fear. It didn't help that I had no faith in Flixbus at all from this point onwards. Our only decision was to get a taxi to Slovakia and try and catch up with the bus. We got a taxi to the bus rank but the bus had of course left.
So there we were, now stranded in Slovakia, 60 euros down the drain. The bus had gone. Our only option now was to get a bus into Budapest and hope the bus had left our things intact in the lost and found. or maybe, just maybe the wonderful driver would be waiting for us with all our bags in hand and a celebration party to greet us.
To cross into Hungary meant crossing a border into "Non-EU land" Without a passport, that was risky. In fact, getting on a Flixbus (Flixbus was the only option) was not always allowed without a passport. Nobody could help us with advice on what the best options were. The lady at the bus stop desk just told us when the next bus was and that we would need a passport legally to cross into Hungary.
So we waited. Destination and the future unknown. The wait felt like forever and the unknown about our possessions was stressful. Would we even get on the next bus? Were spaces left?
I knew I had to keep my cool, for my cousins' sake. She was a bit of a stress head and a worrier. But at the thought of both me and Jamie losing our passports and what the unknown might be for her I just couldn't keep my cool. I burst into tears with the realisation of the situation.
I felt like a failure, I felt like a huge mess. I didn't like knowing what the next steps would be and I hated knowing that this small thing could have ruined my cousins trip. I hated not knowing the future of my Mac and all of our other possessions.
The part that really surprised me was how calm my cousin was in this craziness. Telling me that stressing out and being upset won't help anyone.
But the scariest part was knowing that if we got onto the Flixbus and border guards checked the bus, we would be in a lot of trouble.
I had written on travel groups on Facebook for advice in different travel groups and the response and assistance with advice was overwhelming and has me crying with such nice thoughts. It is things like that which make me realise starting the She Roams Solo community was the right decision.
Finally, the bus pulled up. My heart was racing because this simple decision from the bus driver could make or break our situation. If he said no, we couldn't get on the bus without a passport then we would be screwed. We had no backup plan. If he said yes, then we spend a few hours on the bus with our hearts racing to find out the next situation. The bus driver didn't speak English (they never do with Flixbus, despite being an international travel company).
I try to communicate with him that we have no passports, that our passports are hopefully in Budapest and that we need to get on this bus and that we can show copies of our passports. The message gets lost in communication. I wonder if he can see the panic in my eyes. I wonder if the tears swelling is noticeable.
To be honest, he seemed unfazed by our dilemma. He had people to put on a bus and that was that. He wanted the payment for the tickets and that is all.
When we got on the bus I knew that both mine and Jamies heart was pumping. Sarah was being very brave and it was impressive but she did not want to travel alone and to see us getting detained and taken away in handcuffs was the last thing I wanted her to see.
To pass the time and to feel like I was getting some justice I would write on their facebook wall and tweet. All of my Facebook comments would get deleted before anyone would reply. So I started to copy and paste them and keep posting. In the meantime, I looked at other peoples reviews.
There were so many reviews of people having their things stolen after the bus left early on them. I have no doubt in my mind that the bus driver will leave a minute or two early on purpose. That is my 100% conclusion of what happened.
I read stories of rude drives and a million and one stories of buses that arrive hours late without any communication. (This is standard Flixbus issues). The problem was the people who reported thefts and had nobody from the company compensate or apologies. I just knew I was going to have to say goodbye to my mac and camera, possibly any money we had. Jamie's speakers... it was all bound to be gone! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if everything was gone, including our passports and clothes.
When we arrived. There was obviously no one waiting for us and my thoughts were to just give up and try in the morning. It was almost 10 pm by this point and we had been on a very very long journey and had a very long day. But Jamie raced over to another Flixbus. By this point, I had given up on anyone in Flixbus. Nobody seemed to care or want to help and very rarely did anyone speak English. After he told the story we got very little emotion or words back. The bus driver made a phone call, stuck his finger up for us to wait and be quiet (all very rudely done with an "its not my problem" kind of attitude). Eventually, he took us to the bus driver.
I can't tell you how happy I was to see this bus driver but at the same time, I wanted to punch him. I knew I had to keep calm if I wanted our things back.
The bus driver proceeded to give us lectures about being on time for the bus. (slightly ironic considering no Flixbus is ever on time!) Never-mind the fact that he left early and we were on time. When he gave us our bags we had found that our things have been rifled through. Our passports had all been in a document wallet with some emergency pounds, euros and USD. That money had all been taken.
We knew he went through our document wallet as when he saw us he pointed to the slot in which the wallet was and said "passport" instantly handing us the wallet. On top of this, Jamies Bluetooth Bose speaker had been stolen. It had been in the top of the bag and would have been the first thing the driver saw when he clearly went through our bags.
Our clothes were fine. My Mac was fine, which was a massive relief. Once we had all our things (all the things that hadn't been stolen). We found 3 warm beers that were in the bag and we drunk them then and there surrounded by our possessions. to celebrate.
When all the dust was settled there was a sense of heartbreak that filled the air. The upset was in the event happening in the first place. Then it was in the lack of support by the company. Then it was in the lack of caring by the company, the fact that they never replied to me on social media, but kept deleting my messages. Then finally, that someone had taken our things. That even if the people sitting next to us had said something, the bus driver didn't care.
I emailed to complain about this detailed note. I was told we should have been back at the bus on time and we have no proof of theft. We were spot on time, if not a minute beforehand. The company refuse to provide me with their GPS data but my google location shows we were stopped for under 30 minutes.
The fact is I could never prove that the bus driver stole our things but I knew it. The idea that Flixbus didn't give us anything back, not even an apology was what made me angry enough to write this. The distrust I now feel needs to be heard by others.
I was very glad when I found this Facebook group. Flixbus Never Again - it is nice to know that the others want the message to get heard as much as me. Purchasing a ticket from Flixbus may be cheap but it rewards this kind of bad service and horrible customer service. Allowing other companies to do the same.
They shrug off their late buses like it is out of their control. However, I have never travelled with a bus company that has as many late buses as them, and for over an hour sometimes. Why can other companies get it right but Flixbus can't! Is it because of their lack of caring? That can clearly be seen throughout the company model.
Don't believe me, check their Facebook comments.
You can also check out these findings
You think this is bad.... stay tuned for what happens at our hotel when we arrive!
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