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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

‘Cheap but poor customer care’ – What readers think of Flixbus coach services

The bright green Flixbus branded vehicles are an increasingly common sight on the roads in France - but who are the German start-up company and why is opinion about them so divided?

'Cheap but poor customer care' - What readers think of Flixbus coach services
Flixbus runs dozens of routes in France. Photo: AFP

Thirty three people were injured, four seriously, on Sunday when a Flixbus travelling between Paris and London overturned on the A1 in northern France.

A relatively recent addition to the travel market in France, Flixbus now offers dozens of services in France, both domestic and international, with prices varying from around €8 for shorter journeys to €80 for international routes.

The company launched in Germany in 2013 as a small start-up, but since then has grown rapidly around Europe and now operates in France, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Croatia, Norway, Spain and England.

READ ALSO Readers reveal – the best way to travel around France


In 2018 the company also launched in the USA. Photo: AFP

Why is Fixbus so popular?

It's cheap and it also brands itself as a green operator.

Flixbus offers inter-city travel, as well as cross border services such as the Paris to London route.

It's largely app based, which means it can keep prices low and has been offering major competition to domestic rail services. It is now Europe's largest long-distance bus service and 100 million people have travelled with the company since its launch six years ago.

What do passengers say about it?

When we asked The Local's readers across Europe for their experiences, we received a lot of positive reaction.

“Smooth, cheap, good facilities” “Good. Slower but cheaper than the train” “very cool and cheap” were just some of the positive responses we received, along with a lot of people who said the service was basic but the cheap prices made it attractive.

Overall, of The Local's readers, 48 percent rated the service either good or very good.

Was it all positive?

No, there were also some unsatisfied customers.

Almost 30 percent of respondents described the service as “bad” or “very bad.”

The main complaints seem to be about the comfort of the buses for long distance travel and the customer care.

Like its fellow low-cost travel pioneer Ryanair, the company seems to have some problems with customer service, with many people reporting unfriendly or hostile staff and a difficulty in contacting the firm in case of problems with their journey.

On users said: “The customer service is appalling” while another added: “Some of the drivers are very rude and often drive dangerously fast and jerky in cities.”


The crash in France on Sunday happened as the bus left the A11. Photo: AFP

Any other issues?

The company has been dogged in recent months with a series of accidents. An investigation is now ongoing into the crash in France on Sunday in which 33 people were injured.

In October, one person was killed and 17 injured when a Flixbus rolled in Southern France. 

Several people were injured in two separate crashes in Germany in June, while one person was killed and 60 injured in a crash in Switzerland in May. 

In May this year, a Flixbus driver was recorded watching a film on her mobile as she drove. The company said the driver has since been banned from working for them.

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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