Landline is rolling from Fargo to Minneapolis. Is the new bus service worth it?

To learn more about Landline's service from Fargo to Minneapolis, Assistant Business and Features Editor Thomas Evanella took a ride-along on the new, nonstop bus line.

After riding the Landline bus from Fargo to Minneapolis, a mother and son stand on the sidewalk Thursday night, March 16, 2023, outside Hector International Airport.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

FARGO — I don’t need to tell any of you how to get from Fargo to Minneapolis.

Head east on Interstate 94. Drive for anywhere from three-and-a-half to four hours, depending on road conditions and lead-footedness. Exit where you need to and you are just about done.

That simplicity is why I was a bit surprised to see that a Forum story about a new nonstop bus service from Fargo’s Hector International Airport to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranked among the top 10 most popular stories with readers the week it was published.

Our readers were clearly quite interested to learn more about this new service, run by an up-and-coming company named Landline.

Landline got its start in 2019, serving as an “airline on the ground” to connect passengers from underserved areas to airlines at major airports. According to Business Development Manager Liz Thiesse, the company is among the only on-the-ground transportation services partnered with a major airline. “People spend a significant amount of time on the road, transporting from regions in and out of Minneapolis,” Thiesse said. “It really changes the way people are traveling. They don’t have to worry about being on the road.”


Landline has offered similar services in other Minnesota cities as well as throughout Colorado, servicing Denver International Airport.

Around here, Landline is partnered with Sun Country Airlines, a low-cost carrier that doesn’t fly into Fargo but has a solid stable of destinations out of MSP.

Landline bills itself as a high-end yet cost-effective service that can potentially save passengers hundreds of dollars on their next vacation or Twin Cities weekend. There is a lot to know about this new travel option, so to learn more, I took the Landline trip to and from Minneapolis on Thursday, March 16.

Is it the right choice for your next getaway? Continue reading to find out. I'll break down the costs, timing, on-board experience and share my final verdict at the end.

The dollars and cents

Passengers can book transit in one of two ways.

Those flying on Sun Country can book their Landline ride directly with the airline. Thiesse advised flyers to search for trips originating in Fargo rather than Minneapolis. Doing so allows customers to not only earn miles with Sun Country but also get the lowest price. Landline’s trips are a $15 flat add-on per person, per direction to a Sun Country itinerary.

Landline bus driver Mark Peterson checks a passenger Thursday, March 16, 2023 at Hector International Airport in Fargo for a trip to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

Those traveling on other airlines or looking to get to Minneapolis without driving themselves can book via Landline’s website. Prices for non-Sun Country passengers start at $29. My ride on Thursday was provided at no cost, though the total would have been $98, or $49 per person, per direction. That’s only $20 more each way than what the rides are advertised at, but it’s still worth noting for the price conscious traveler, which I suspect many considering using Landline are.

Thiesse said the booking process works similarly to that of a regular airline, meaning prices can rise based on demand or capacity. For the best prices, she said to book as far in advance as possible.


Timing is everything

Currently, Landline makes one trip per day to Minneapolis on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Landline makes return trips to Fargo on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

To cater to college students, Landline has added service to North Dakota State University. The bus starts the day at 9:25 a.m. at the Memorial Union before heading to Hector and leaving there at 9:55 a.m. If road conditions are cooperative, that puts passengers at MSP at roughly 2 p.m., stopping first at Terminal 2 before moving to Terminal 1.

Heading back to Fargo, Landline leaves MSP at 4:30 p.m. and, in ideal conditions, reaches the airport in Fargo around 8:30 p.m. and at the Memorial Union around 8:45 p.m.

Landline bus driver Mark Peterson, far right, helps passengers load their luggage onto the bus Thursday morning, March 16, 2023 outside Hector International Airport in Fargo. Landline travels nonstop to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, stopping at both of the airport's two terminals.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

Landline operates door-to-door, Thiesse said, picking up and dropping off riders right in front of the airport entrances. Sun Country flyers can also have their bags checked and receive boarding passes from Landline staff, allowing them to bypass standard check-in counters.

Thiesse estimated that simply approaching the parking gate to passing through the terminal doors can take up to 25 minutes. Landline aims to trim that excess time for its passengers.

On return trips, Sun Country travelers can also bypass baggage claim. Bags are instead brought to the Landline counter and loaded onto the bus. “By traveling Landline, you really get your time back,” Thiesse concluded. “You’re able to relax.”

The competition

At this point, there’s a good chance you’re wondering how Landline stacks up with its main competitor, Jefferson Lines.

After booking my Landline trip, I checked out Jefferson Lines’s website to see what they had to offer.


Both carriers offer trips from Fargo to Minneapolis with one key difference. Landline runs nonstop while Jefferson Lines makes numerous stops along the way.

Passengers board the Landline bus Thursday morning, March 16, 2023 outside of Hector International Airport in Fargo. The service is affiliated with Sun Country Airlines but open to anyone seeking transportation to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

For Thursday, Jefferson Lines offered me three different itineraries. All three of them made several stops along the way, though two were advertised to be 4 hours and 20 minutes. The skeptic in me wondered if their stops are as quick as they claim to be. One whopper of an itinerary was listed at 10 hours and 10 minutes, heading north to Grand Forks before stopping in seemingly every notable Minnesota small town en route to Minneapolis.

As of Friday, March 10, Jefferson Lines did have a slight price advantage, offering a one-way trip for $37.

The onboard experience

As someone who is 6-feet tall, there were two things I noticed immediately when stepping on the bus.

Firstly, I didn’t have to duck at all. I never felt like the overhead storage was inches from my head because it wasn’t. This is a stark contrast to some of the older model regional jets which fly out of Hector, which I’d compare to glorified flying tin cans.

Secondly, leg room is plentiful, which Thiesse said was a deliberate design choice for the company. Seats also recline generously without going into someone else’s lap. All in all, the roominess makes the seating comparable to an airplane’s exit row, if not a touch more spacious.

The interior of the Landline bus awaits passengers Thursday morning, March 16, 2023 outside Hector International Airport in Fargo. Landline offers nonstop bus service to and from Fargo and Minneapolis.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

Landline offers WiFi on board at no cost. The connection also comes with a library of entertainment, featuring recent movie titles such as “Mulan,” “Wonder Woman,” “News of the World” and others. Streaming is limited to Landline’s in-house options, so don’t expect to watch the debut episode of “Ted Lasso” or binge “The Last of Us,” however. (Don’t tell my bosses I tried. They’re not going to read this, right?)

The WiFi connection is best likened to an airplane’s WiFi. It’s good for basic browsing and the connection became sluggish when I tried more advanced work tasks that run with ease at home. I occasionally ran into issues getting apps to load, but I was impressed with the connection’s ability to keep me connected to work emails, Slack messages and the Google Docs file used to write this story.


A simple selection of snacks is available along with bottled water. Seats also come with two power outlets and a pair of USB 2.0 ports.

The bathroom located at the rear of the bus also compares similarly to a plane bathroom, with a touch more room. Don’t expect to find running water. The bare-bones room consists of a toilet and hand sanitizer, sufficient for the circumstances.

The atmosphere is subdued, which is welcome for the quiet traveler. Silence was occasionally interrupted by light chatter or phone conversations. Riders included solo travelers, students, young families and couples. A party bus this most certainly is not and alcohol is strictly forbidden on board, Thiesse noted.

After 10 hours on this bus, I came away with one complaint. The seat backs could really use a tray table. If you’re not planning on working like I was, you would very likely be fine without it, but I would have liked to have had a better place for my laptop and to rest my forearms.

Otherwise, Thiesse referred to the on-board experience as “extremely premium.” It’s no limousine, but for a bus service, I’d say that’s an apt description.

What riders had to say

There were a few nervy moments Thursday afternoon.

Mother Nature was uncooperative, with snow, rain and wind pelting Minnesota throughout the day. As a result, I spotted numerous semis, trucks and cars in the ditch along the interstate.

Suffice it to say, driving conditions were less-than-ideal. Though we left Fargo on time, we didn’t reach Terminal 2 in Minneapolis until after 2 p.m., putting our ride over four hours in duration.


One passenger looking to catch a flight to Florida was frantically tracking our route on his phone, counting down each minute. (If you’re reading this, shoot me an email. I’d love to know if you made it.)

A Landline passenger en route to Florida prepares for the bus's departure Thursday morning, March 16, 2023, from Hector International Airport in Fargo. Were it not for a weather delay, the trip would have been a "home run," the passenger said.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

Despite the rush, he was pleased with Landline’s service and the value it provided, saying the trip would have been a “home run” were it not for the weather delay, which clearly was not Landline’s fault.

By Thursday night, it was clear that the star of the show was driver Mark Peterson. The affable, semi-retired Peterson is a Concordia College alumni who said he’s happy that the gig brings him back to the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Peterson had a grueling task on Thursday. Conditions worsened from afternoon to night, and the interstate was covered in snow and ice for the majority of the trip. A trip that’s projected to be roughly four hours took 5 hours and 35 minutes, Peterson announced to passengers upon pulling up curbside at Hector.

Even if some nerves were fried after a taxing bus ride, no one seemed to show it. Riders called out words of encouragement for Peterson throughout the ride and some even clapped upon our arrival. Peterson joked that he promised safety but that he didn’t make any guarantees on speed. He certainly delivered, and passengers obviously appreciated the effort, even if it meant a late night.

The verdict

All told, Landline is a welcome addition to the Fargo transportation network. ... My advice? Pay attention to the details and crunch the numbers.
Forum reporter Thomas Evanella

Thiesse made it clear that Landline’s biggest selling points are its affiliation with Sun Country, price and time savings. “When you take a look at the big picture of the total cost savings of everything, and then also their time and relaxing and getting their time back, it really measures out that it’s such a win-win,” she said.

Does it? In certain situations, I’d be inclined to agree, but there are very likely times where it just makes more sense to fork over the cash and fly out of Fargo.

The federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides data on airfare at airports across the country. Among 2021’s 15 busiest domestic airports, MSP ranked eighth for average fares at $413.59. By comparison, fares out of Fargo averaged out at $508.78. On airfare alone, there are clearly cost savings to be had by flying out of MSP, not to mention exponentially more direct destinations and access to low-cost carriers such as Sun Country.


This is where it gets tricky.

If you can find a flight that departs MSP in the evening or at night, you can ride Landline the same day. If your flight leaves in the morning, you’ll have to ride to Minneapolis the night before. Tack on a hotel stay and other on-the-ground costs and that overnight stay could ultimately be a wash as compared to flying from Fargo for solo travelers, less so for families. Thiesse noted that Landline offers family discounts, which certainly would enhance the value for groups.

There is a timing issue inherent in all of this, and that’s before considering your return to MSP. If you return to the Twin Cities in the morning, you’ll have a long time to wait at the airport before Landline heads back to Fargo. It could make for a very long travel day and perhaps feel like a chore at the end of a vacation.

Fortunately, this issue may be resolved eventually. Thiesse noted that Landline buses have been fuller each week, saying April bookings are “really looking good.”

Passengers on Landline's trip from Minneapolis to Fargo Thursday, March 16, 2023 appreciated driver Mark Peterson's efforts to safely navigate snowy conditions along Interstate 94, with one offering the driver a tip upon arrival at Hector International Airport.
Megan Sirek / The Forum

Should that pattern continue, Thiesse said the company would look to bolster the Fargo schedule with another departure and arrival. “If the demand increases and people realize this is really very beneficial to their travel experience, we certainly will add additional times to Fargo,” she said. “We can see certainly adding to that.”

Thiesse said Landline has a 96.7% on-time rate. That mark no doubt took a hit Thursday, showing that weather may ultimately prove to be an insurmountable hurdle for some travelers. There is no escaping the fact that, in this part of the country, interstate travel is hardly reliable for half the year. Adding more layers to your trip increases your exposure to Murphy’s Law, especially in the winter. That is no fault of Landline’s, but something potential customers ought to keep in mind.
Of course, many of those concerns go out the window if you’re simply looking for a way to get to and from Minneapolis for a long weekend. Nonstop service that puts you right near the light rail is a no-brainer.

All told, Landline is a welcome addition to the Fargo transportation network. Nonstop service distinguishes the company from Jefferson Lines. Extra leg room, comfortable seating and on-board WiFi are all pluses.

If you live in the Fargo area and find yourself driving to MSP for flights, Landline is an appealing option. The same can be said for those planning their next Twin Cities weekend. Right now, tickets are less than a tank of gas and riding the bus will spare you from plunging hundreds of dollars into airport parking.

My advice? Pay attention to the details and crunch the numbers. There are a lot of scenarios where riding Landline adds up, but occasionally you’ll be better off scouting out alternatives.


Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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