The most comfortable buses in Mexico are the ‘executive class’ bus lines which are ideal for longer journeys: these buses feature no more than twenty-five seats on board, laid out in a 2+1 configuration, each one being a third wider than a normal bus seat and which recline to be near-flat, like a bed. Think of business class on an airplane.
Executive-class buses are not available on all routes; they are usually offered only on longer distance trips — minimum 3-4 hours — as the first-class buses are adequate and comfortable enough for shorter journeys.
The most well-known executive-class bus lines in Mexico are: ETN, Estrella de Oro’s Diamante Service, Costaline, ADO’s Platino and UNO brands, and Futura. Bus companies in Mexico are organized regionally, and you can find information about those companies on our extensive guide to bus travel.
Mexico leads the way when it comes to traveling longer distances by bus. Not only are services here efficient, professional, frequent, and affordable; the executive-class option is all of those things and more.
Executive-class passengers get use of exclusive waiting lounges which are available at most (not all) bus stations. Baggage allowances are generous and, although they vary by company, most will allow up to three pieces of checked baggage per person at no additional charge. Fees for additional pieces over the allowance are a small fraction of what airlines charge.
Executive-class buses are luxurious and offer the latest in bus technology and comfort. Inside, the passenger cabin is closed-off from the driver’s cockpit; windows are double-glazed, the cabin is air-conditioned, and the excellent suspension provides support for a smooth ride.
As you board the bus, you’ll be offered refreshment in the form of a beverage and a light snack. Some services offer complimentary coffee and tea on board as well. You’re also welcome to bring your own food and drink, although the rules stipulate that hot foods are not allowed. You’ll also find at least one restroom at the back of the bus, although most have two.
On-board, you’ll be given a wide and comfortable preassigned seat which reclines generously to become bed-like. Power sockets near the seat enable you to charge devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. (The sockets are the US-style two-pin variety: bring your own adapters for mobile devices and non-US style plugs.)
Complimentary WiFi is available on some buses, although service availability is dependent on mobile data coverage en-route.
Some buses offer at-seat screens (like airlines do) and others offer a movie on communal screens with the audio piped through headphone sockets situated at each seat. Note that most films offered through the in-bus entertainment system are dubbed into Spanish without English sub-titles. As tablets and smartphones are now almost ubiquitous, many people bring along their own entertainment for the journey anyway.
Executive-class buses take the most direct route without intermediary stops and use tolled highways where these are available between destinations. The drivers are professionally trained and the vehicles have speed limiters installed for safety; some also have satellite tracking systems.
Traveling bus bus requires a more adventurous spirit than traveling by airplane, and you’ll need to speak a little bit of Spanish to get by at the stations. However, most foreigners who try bus travel (especially executive class bus travel) usually enjoy the experience and those who live here tend to become regular customers.
Travel Tip: Executive Bus or Airplane?
Mexico is a big country, and unless you’re on a tight budget or have plenty of time to spare, you are likely to want to fly longer distances. Journeys of 5-6 road hours or less are comfortable enough on an executive-class bus, and while it’s possible to take 24-36 hour bus journeys across the length of Mexico, in our experience it’s more comfortable to fly if the bus journey is over 6 hours long.
Our guide to Bus Travel in Mexico is comprehensive and explains how to travel comfortably, safely and affordably by bus across Mexico.
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One of the problems with ETN is that you cannot pre-book unless you have a Mexican credit card.
You will have to make arrangements thru. a travel agent.
Reclining seats can be a pain. Get seats 2 & 3 or the ones immediately behind the stairs…no one in front.
re: reclining seats–took Tufesa first class from Mazatlan to Tucson –19 hours — the person behind me had the seat blocked so i was unable to recline the seat .–19 hours in a seat that does not recline is NOT FIRST CLASS TRAVELING –they can take the first class bus traveling and shove it where the sun does not shine . ed
Ed, this is the ONLY way to travel to another place in Mexico if people (or yourself) don’t want to pay the money to fly and/or want to put up with all of the (in)security theater that’s a part of air travel. If you don’t like it, the next time you visit Mexico you should do regional visits (e.g. visit Acapulco on one trip, then Mexico City on another); Mexico doesn’t have intercity passenger rail anymore, so bus travel like this is it.
I’ve used ETN several times and agree with the article, it’s a nice ride. However, if the seats recline to a ‘bed like’ position what happens to the person behind such a seat? I always dread when I see a young person take the seat in front of mine, they, it seems, need a lot more bed time than we older folks.