Competition for passengers is fierce, so the standard of service on long-distance buses is higher than, for example, in Austria and Germany. This is expressed for the passengers as follows: When ordering their vehicles, the bus operators tick a lot more extras that are subject to a surcharge and do not save on the design of the passenger compartments. Also in Bratislava there is access to a real lounge at the Nivy bus station. Regiojet tries to score with free coffee on board.
Just because Slovak Lines comes from Slovakia and thus from "Eastern Europe", does not mean that you are traveling with "old buses". The opposite is the case, because the fleet is young and offers passengers a lot of comfort that the competitor Flixbus does not have. It is also a great advantage that, in contrast to the European market leader, they do not rely on subcontractors, but rather operate the coaches themselves with their own drivers.
In the traffic between Bratislava and Vienna, Slovak Lines is not necessarily the cheapest provider. Although there are always promotions with cheap tickets for only one euro, the average price is around 9,90 euros if you book online. Prices may be higher directly from the bus driver or at ticket sales counters (e.g. at the Nivy bus station). It is now also possible to pay the driver with a debit or credit card, which is advantageous for international travelers at Vienna Airport, because they do not have to obtain euro cash beforehand when boarding spontaneously.
Tickets are not linked by name - can therefore be passed on
The booking process on the Slovak Lines homepage is simple and very similar to what one is used to from airlines. There are also seat reservations, although these are free of charge. You simply select the chair you want during the booking process. Now you should be careful when choosing extras, if you drive from Bratislava (Nivy), because otherwise you miss out on a free service: The free "coffee option" should definitely be ticked, because then you get together with the Ticket a voucher for the lounge at Bratislava Airport. Mineral water and coffee are served there free of charge.
Unlike its competitor Flixbus, Slovak Lines tickets are not issued by name. In concrete terms, this means that if you can't drive yourself or don't even know who you want to take with you on the trip - you can pass them on. It is also possible to cancel this free of charge until shortly before departure. During the booking process, the company points out the currently valid conditions, which are more customer-friendly compared to other providers.
Modern touring coaches from Setra in action
Between Vienna and Bratislava, Slovak Lines mainly uses single-deck coaches from the German manufacturer Setra. A young Setra bus was used on a test drive carried out by Aviation.Direct between Bratislava (Nivy) and Vienna Central Station (Südtiroler Platz). This looked extremely new and of high quality. For example, the floor was designed in wood look. The seats featured adjustable headrests and armrests between the double seats.
The latest Slovak Lines vehicles are no longer equipped with single screens. They now offer a WLAN-based entertainment system that can be used from a cell phone, for example. Free wifi with internet access is available throughout the trip. What is also new is that you no longer have classic sockets, but instead USB sockets that enable fast charging. It is not entirely clear why, unlike the competition, they decided against classic sockets.
Due to their design, the folding tables in long-distance buses are only of limited use for working on laptops. However, it should be possible to put down a tablet PC - for example to watch a Netflix video - without any problems. In contrast to the competitor Regiojet, the seats can also be moved into the aisle, so that the distance to a possible seat neighbor can be increased during the journey. The legroom (laser measured) is 44,6 centimeters and is therefore a little larger than the competition. There are no footrests and there is neither an in-flight magazine nor free coffee on board - but you can "pick it up" for free in the lounge at the Bratislava Nivy bus station.
No mask requirement in Slovakia
During the test drive, the “captain” was a friendly bus driver who could communicate well in English with international passengers. The Slovak Lines vehicle left the Slovak capital on time and reached Vienna Airport ahead of schedule. The existing toilet was clean and may have been cleaned just before the trip due to the smell of cleaning supplies. The passenger compartment itself was impeccably clean.
Masks are no longer compulsory on board public transport in Slovakia. This means that mouth and nose protection does not have to be worn on the Slovakian section of the route. In Austria, FFP2 masks are still mandatory, but this was collectively ignored by all passengers during the test drive. Even the Austrian army, which has a passport control at the Kittsee motorway border crossing (no 3G control, because the soldiers were not interested in the evidence) were not bothered by the fact that nobody wore a mask.
Conclusion: Good way to get to Bratislava publicly
Slovak Lines offers a solid, reliable product to travel between Vienna and Bratislava. In terms of price, they are usually higher than the competition, but they score points with the lounge access at the Nivy bus station, which is a huge shopping center by the way. For Viennese, the long-distance bus to Bratislava can also be exciting for a shopping trip, because the bus platforms are in the "basement" of the new shopping center, where pretty much all internationally known brands are represented.
For passengers who want to travel to Bratislava via Vienna International Airport, the Slovak Lines bus is a good way to get to and from the Slovakian capital quickly and easily. The vehicles are attractively and comfortably equipped and offer far more than one would expect on this short rule.
Incidentally, at the Nivy bus station there are numerous options for onward travel within Slovakia. Any waiting times can be avoided at the really very successful bus terminal, which clears up all the "prejudices" that some people have about long-distance bus journeys. The shopping center, in whose "basement" you are taken by bus, has many shops and restaurants. Bargain foxes can stock up on cheap provisions at the Lidl, which is located in the center diagonally opposite the bus platforms.