Bus services in Argentina are available in a variety of comfort classes, each with its distinct characteristics. The classification is prescribed by law (Decreto 2407/2002 Annexo II) in an attempt to improve the comparability of the services. Every service is assigned by the bus company to one of five comfort classes and has to comply with the minimum requirements of this class. Below we present a summary of the available classes to give you an impression of the respective levels of comfort.
For quick and easy reference we have introduced a numbering of the categories and assigned the number one to the best comfort level ("first class"), while the most basic service is number five.
Class 5: Común
This is the lowest category with no additional requirements other than the basic technical standards for bus transportation.
Class 4: Común con aireAs the main difference to the lowest class, services in the "comun con aire" category offer air conditioning, i.e. the buses are equipped with a heating and cooling system. Also the number of passengers is limited to the number of seats (no transport of standing passengers). Normally there are individual seats with soft cushioning, although this is not required by law for this category.
Class 3: SemicamaServices of this class offer better seating comfort. The buses are equipped with rows of individual seats (4 seats per row), with soft cushioning, arm and foot rests, and reclining back rests. There are also rests to support your legs when the seat is in a reclined position. The service either includes catering of food and drinks or a minibar with self-service where you can get juices, coffee and tea. An air conditioning system with individually adjustable air flow for every seat is mandatory. The following dimensions are minimal requirements for a semicama service:
- distance between armrests: 45 cm
- distance between seats: 75 cm
- maximum reclination angle: 40 degrees
- depth of the seats: 45 cm
- width of armrests: 4 cm
After all, the comfort level of the semicama class is thus slightly better or about equal to typical bus services in Europe and North America.
Class 2: Cama-EjecutivoThis class offers even better seating comfort, and because of the larger seats there are only three seats per row. Consequently every row has a single seat on one side and two adjacent seats on the other side of the aisle. A cama service has to comply with the following minimum requirements for the seats:
- distance between armrests: 50 cm
- distance between seats: 86 cm
- maximum reclination angle: 55 degrees
- depth of the seats: 46 cm
- width of armrests: 6 cm
Class 1: Cama SuiteThe only additional requirement for this class as compared to the cama-ejecutivo class is that the maximum reclination angle must be at least 85 degrees. In practice this means that the seat can be reclined until it is completely flat and you will really have a bed (spanish: "cama") to sleep in. Normally there is some sort of separation between your seat and the one in front and behind in order to preserve your privacy.
Limitations of the classification
In principle these categories provide useful orientation about the various comfort levels, and give you some idea of how much space you will have and how far the seats are reclining. In fact the actual law is more detailed than our summary (for example it even specifies minimum dimensions for the footrests).
Nevertheless services of the same category may still differ a lot from each other, and comparing prices is not as straightforward as it seems. This is not only because in reality services may surpass the minimum requirements to a varying degree, but also because many important aspects are not included in the classification. Services differ significantly in quality and quantity of meals, maintenance and age of the buses, background noise, reliability and timeliness, responsibility of drivers, selection of movies, friendliness of attendants, and in many more relevant aspects.
Also, the exact specifications of dimensions and features of the seats will not always tell you much about how comfortable the seat actually feels. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the question of whether or not you will get a good night's sleep and enjoy your trip.
The quality of services obviously depends on policies and investments of the respective companies, so it is essential to choose the right ones. And even within the same company a certain category may be recommendable while others are not. Although we do not publish ratings and only display the official comfort class in our information system, we regularly do receive and ask for feedback from our clients. When you book your tickets with us we will be happy to give recommendations and share our views on the quality of a specific service.
In general the companies comply with their responsibility to label the services according to the official classification, although other labels are often used in parallel. So a Semicama service may be called "Dorado", or Cama-Ejecutivos may be called "Cama" or "Ejecutivo" depending on whether an attendant is on board or not. Other companies use "Ejecutivo" to denominate the services that are officially called Cama-Suite. You may also find these first-class services with names like "Tutto Leto", "Cama Total", "Super Cama" or "Salon Real". With regard to the confusing variety of marketing designations, you will surely appreciate the general validity of the official classification.