I already bought a plane ticket. Should I take an 8-hr bus instead?
August 5, 2016 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I bought a (nonrefundable, of course) plane ticket to a wedding thinking the wedding was in the evening. It turns out it is in the afternoon. My flight is supposed to get in at 9 am the day of the wedding. I am in the wedding party. Should I take an overnight bus instead to insure that I am there on time?

I couldn't get the Friday before the wedding off of work or I wouldn't be considering this. Barring extraordinary delays, I'm not worried about making it to the wedding itself, but I am worried about missing any photography that might happen before the wedding (I don't know if they are doing pictures before or after) and worried about not having enough time to do my hair/makeup. I am also worried about being super-stressed if the flight is delayed at all or even canceled.

I am already missing the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

The last afternoon wedding I was in, I was up at 6:00 to do hair and makeup and meet for pictures before the wedding. If I take a bus I can be there at 2:00 am or 6:00 am (depending what bus I take, I'm not sure I can leave work early enough to get the bus that gets in at 2:00) but I will not be as well-rested as if I take the flight in the morning. I have a hotel (sharing a room) already so I would be able to get a couple hours of sleep if I got in at 2:00. I can usually sleep a little on buses but would not get a full night's rest. If I flew, I would wake up at 5:00 so I wouldn't be so well-rested either but would probably be getting 5-6 hours of sleep and it would be in my bed and not on a bus.

I am considering the plane ticket a sunk cost, the bus ticket is around $30 so cost is not a huge factor here for me. (Buying a new plane ticket, however, would be more than I can spend).

In my mind the pros and cons of each choice are just about even-- what am I not considering that would tip the scales? Any 'hacks' (doing my hair in a style that stays put before I even get on the plane) that would make either of these plans less terrible?
posted by matcha action to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
Best answer: Oh my gosh, I would absolutely fly. That's not a great margin of error if you get delayed, but you're not gaining a ton of time by taking the bus. You are losing a lot of sleep and convenience. In my experience, getting up at 6a for wedding stuff is an anomaly, even for the wedding party. I would be very surprised if the couple expected that from you.

Do you mind sharing your route? Also, what airline are you? Some (Alaska) will let you do standby. Others (AA, I think) charge $25 or something for standby. You could look to see if you are on the first flight of the day for your city pair, and potentially get on an earlier flight.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:18 AM on August 5, 2016 [13 favorites]

When you say "afternoon," what time specifically does the wedding start? There's a significant difference between a 1 pm wedding and a 4 pm wedding here. [I would probably keep the flight if the wedding started in the late afternoon. I would, unhappily because it's not going to be restful, take the overnight bus if it's a lunch-hour wedding with afternoon snacks reception.]

Talk to your wedding's maid/matron of honor or wedding coordinator. Are there plans for whoever's doing the bride's hair/makeup to do the bridesmaids' hair/makeup as well, or is each bridesmaid responsible for their own hair/makeup? What time are the posed photography sessions set for?
posted by Pandora Kouti at 6:20 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Definitely talk to the bride and see what she prefers and what the plans are for hair, make-up, photos, etc. But, that said, I would lean heavily toward the flight. The main reason is that busses can also break down or get delayed, especially if you're talking about MegaBus here (which would be my guess given the price). At least if you're at an airport, you can try to beg one of the gate attendants to get you on another flight; if you're stuck on the side of the road or your bus doesn't show up (I do know people those things have happened to), you're probably SOL.

I do agree with whoever mentioned checking with your airline about standby. If there's the possibility of getting onto a red-eye the night before, that gives you some extra room for error.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:27 AM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I think this is slightly different than standby- call the airline exactly 24 hours before your scheduled departure and ask if you can leave on an earlier flight. If there's room, lots of airlines will let you switch flights within that 24 hour window at free or minimal cost. They'll let you know on the phone if there's availability, so you won't have to sit around the airport. I really hope this works out for you.

Also, honestly, if this were me I might make a decision based on the temperament of the bride & the tenor of the wedding. Smaller wedding with a calmer bride? I'd definitely fly. But if the bride's high strung and it's one of those weddings that seems ALL ABOUT the photos, so that stress levels will skyrocket if your hair isn't perfect or it's time for makeup to start and you're not in your seat? I might suck it up and take the bus that gets in at 2 am.

You're a good friend for even considering this, either way.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:27 AM on August 5, 2016 [20 favorites]

You will not be pretty if you take the bus. Fly in, be chill, and hope for the best. Avoid red meat, booze, and bread for a day or two beforehand so that your skin will look better and you will need less prep work. Worse case scenario, you slip the photographer a little extra to shoot just you and photoshop you in.
posted by myselfasme at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

The bride and groom already know you're supposed to get in at 9AM day of, yes? If the timing was going to be an issue for scheduling, (hopefully) they'll have said something as soon as you let them know. Double check the schedule with them, make sure they know your travel plans, but if they haven't raised concerns then I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd be very surprised if there was no mechanism to allow for changing the plane ticket time. I've done it, although I can't remember what airline. There's some fee, but it might not be more than the cost of the bus ticket. Call them, and if the first person you talk to says no, call again. They're not all trained the same way.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:30 AM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: From my experience, while both buses and planes can get delayed, when buses get delayed they get delayed hard. Or they start detouring all over the place (as happened to me one time). You might not even make it on time (or ever!) if you take the overnight bus.
posted by divabat at 6:30 AM on August 5, 2016 [9 favorites]

Plane, for sure. You will be exhausted, cranky, and on edge if you take the bus (when they are delayed, they are really delayed), and probably be miserable through the whole wedding. Whereas plane, you will be well-rested and a lot less stressed.

Also, no offense to anyone who loves the ritual of it, but that six-hour hair-and-makeup prep time is just as exhausting as taking the bus and you will be better off for skipping both of them. As long as you are there for the photos and look nice (well-rested!) I imagine the bride will be happy.
posted by epanalepsis at 6:41 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fly! Totally a good excuse to get out of a bunch of boring nonsense.
posted by something something at 6:45 AM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: To be fair, if you agreed to be a bridesmaid, you signed up for "a bunch of boring nonsense" and it is not fair on your friend to blow it off. But that is NOT what we're talking about here.

You need to contact the bride and ask what the schedule for the day is, with a heads up but without stressing her out. "I'm having an issue with my scheduled flight time so to make this all work smoothly the way you need it to, can you please tell me the schedule for the day?"
posted by DarlingBri at 6:51 AM on August 5, 2016 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Also you know that if you skip the outbound leg of the flight you will not be able to take the return flight, right? So you will have to take the bus both ways.

I say fly, and try to get on standby if you're not already on the first flight of the day. If the wedding is at 4 you should be fine; if it's at 1 they're probably doing photos between the ceremony and reception so you're probably fine there too.

If you don't want to bug the bride about the schedule, try the most local and put-together bridesmaid first.
posted by mskyle at 7:00 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Fly! Call the airline and see if you can change your flight if there is an earlier time or redeye. You may have to pay a ticketing change fee, but if it's Southwest, they are insanely flexible about things like this.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:15 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would not take the bus; sounds stressful, you need real sleep, and there is no guarantee. I travel by bus a good amount, and traffic, accidents, and mechanical trouble have thwarted arrival time more than I can count.

You're on an AM flight, so the logjam effect of delays isn't a huge factor, as overnight air traffic is not as busy as daytime air traffic in most locations. Think of it this way. If your flight leaves late and you get there by 10, 11, 12, even 1 or 2 depending on start time, that should be okay, right? Maybe not ideal, but okay?

Personally, I wouldn't risk stressing out the bride by saying you have an issue but can you confirm exact timing of scheduled events with the MOH? Anything can happen on any mode of transit (force majeure!) but that's not your fault. You've arranged for a reasonable morning arrival, so no need to drive yourself nuts thinking of what might happen. Plus, you KNOW if you switch to the bus, it'll be the one that breaks down because the universe is hilarious.

I would just 1) pack smart --everything you need to get ready down to the bobby pin in one easily accessible bag; 2) prepare--maybe put your hair up or in braids or whatever gets your hair halfway ready for the style you're planning, or can look decent with minimal styling in a pinch; and 3) relax and hope for the best.
posted by kapers at 7:48 AM on August 5, 2016

Best answer: One thing to consider is that flight delays generally affect later flights. Unless there's crazy weather, first-thing-in-the-morning flights are rarely delayed. So if you're worried about getting in later than 9am, you probably shouldn't be. On-time flights usually arrive before their scheduled arrival, too, so if you're scheduled to land at 9am, you'll probably actually get there around 8:45.

If you can fly nonstop to your destination, that's preferable. One fewer flight to have complications. If you can't fly nonstop from your home airport, but there's a bigger airport nearby, drive there and take the direct flight (e.g., if you live in Milwaukee, drive to Chicago).

Avoid checking a bag if possible. Waiting for baggage claim is one of the biggest bottlenecks in the airport. Much better to have everything in a carry-on and walk directly from the gate out the front door to your ride. If you can't fit everything in a carry-on, see if you can ship it to your destination ahead of time, maybe to the bride's house or whatever.

Switch your seat to be as close to the front of the plane as possible. The closer you sit to the exit, the sooner you'll be off the plane. If it's a bigger one, that could save you another 10 minutes.

Since you're considering spending $30 each way on a bus, you might as well spend $15 more ($75 total) and do TSA Pre-Check. That'll get you through security at the departure airport quicker so that you don't have to wake up quite as early.

If you're getting your hair and makeup done somewhere with the rest of the bridal party, let that place know that you'll probably be the last one there, so they can start on others and then work on you after others are done.

Before doing any of this, though, you should check with the bride and confirm the schedule. If she's a bridezilla, have another bridesmaid check for you and report back. Once you know your "must be there by ___" time, you can formulate plans better.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:53 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest calling up the airline, turning on the charm, and seeing if there's any way you can get your flight changed to an earlier one. The worst they can say is no.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:11 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I was a bridesmaid last year at a 2pm wedding - very fancy one too. Prep for bride & I started at 10am.

So, I'd totally fly.
posted by kariebookish at 8:33 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

To emphasize what was said, if you skip the outbound flight, your return flight will be automatically cancelled. If it were me, I would go prepared with a list of the other flights that would get me there on time, just in case I needed to buy a walk-up ticket, but with the knowledge that likely I wouldn't have to use it. Look up the flight you do have on Flightstats and see if it's likely to be delayed (Click the "On-time performance" tab"). Summer is the busiest flight season (not Thanksgiving or Christmas) and thunderstorms can delay you for an hour or two, but almost never all day. Early flight, short, non-stop, I think you're almost certainly fine. 8 hours in the bus means a 1-hr flight, no?
posted by wnissen at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Morning flights are usually the safest bet. I would keep a close eye on the weather forecast, and assuming all clear in both the departure and destination cities, I would fly. But if you get closer and they start predicting severe weather, I'd think hard about switching to the bus.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2016

I want to point out too that if your plane ticket is round trip, you can't just skip the first flight and take the return flight. If you miss flight 1, most airlines will cancel your return leg. (Ask me how I know.)
posted by alleycat01 at 8:29 PM on August 5, 2016

Best answer: You'll have to ask for the schedule, but objectively I think the flight seems way better. Missing a couple hours with bridesmaids that early in the morning probably won't be too bad, you can probably just sneak in as the last person to get their hair and makeup done if that's happening, and eat breakfast and caffeinate by yourself because you'll probably miss that. I would definitely talk to the bride though, because I was "giant who cares!" about every problem on my wedding day and had a super fun day (it was even pretty fancy.) but a few friends and lots of questions on metafilter hint towards that not being the mean for brides.

Just bring a carry-on if you can, because that eliminates a lot of time at the airport, and makes it a little easier to get a cab fast, so you can gain a little time there.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:43 PM on August 6, 2016

Response by poster: OK metafilter, I hear you loud and clear. I will opt for the flight, do a carry-on only. The bride is having a hair session for some bridesmaids but it is optional so I will do my own. I will wake up early to prep my hair so it is already curled before I get on the flight. I have a style in mind and will practice beforehand so I know how long it will take me and I'll be able to do it quickly; I was already planning on doing my own makeup and can do that quickly (the wedding is not so super-formal and I have done my own bridesmaid makeup before so I feel confident with that). Photos are at 1:00 or 1:30 so I think I will have plenty of time for the amount of prep I will need, and if my flight is delayed terribly I can just simplify everything so it takes less time to do.

Thanks metafilter, I was not looking forward to an 8-hour bus trip.
posted by matcha action at 10:00 AM on August 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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