“Seems more practical than the BFR” except that the BFR is already partially built and the question “how is this going to be paid for?” is answered.
BFR is primarily a launch vehicle. The port to port capabilities are an emergent “oh, wait, with a cheap rocket, we could do this” sort of thing. Don’t be surprised if that part of the BFR gets dropped or delayed for a while.
The thing is, though, BFR being used port-to-port is more realizable since the craft is going to exist for space launches primarily. Which means the BFR will be improved whether or not its used for port to port transport. And, if its space reliability is high, then SpaceX can start work on securing the legal and infrastructure needs of the BFR.
So, while the design might be more “practical” from your point of view (i.e. it’s a space plane that isn’t so big), it’s not actually necessarily much more practical in reality. In fact, it might be less practical because it’s more complex. The BFR is not like a plane - it is a rocket that can land, fundamentally. The delta “wing” is not a true wing. It’s just a shaped heat shield and has no steering flaps for subsonic travel, which means that the heat shields won’t need so much work and require so much cost after every use. Furthermore, because it is simpler AND sturdier, it will be more reliable, and safer.
I just think that people here are not wrapping their heads around “fully reusable” in terms of what that actually means for cost.
Don’t worry about the port to port thing so much. That may or may not happen, but it’s not much of a paradigm shift because the demand to get across the ocean fast is not so great that people need to cut trips of 9 hours (12-15 hours of travel with the air port/connecting flight BS) down to 30 minutes (3.5-6.6 hours of travel). You’re not getting much out of the BFR being used port to port that would actually justify it being used without it first being proven very safe for getting people to orbit.
That’s the general idea behind port to port. Why make a rocket to do what an airplane can do just as reliably? Answer, you don’t. You make a rocket to go to space cheaply, and once that has been developed and proven reliable, you use that for earth travel that is faster than a plane.
The military might like the BFR more than anyone for that purpose, to be honest, and it would be a lot easier to justify. Imagine being able to get equipment, personnel and weaponry anywhere in the world in a half hour. The thing is designed to land on the moon or on Mars, so, surely it can land on rough terrain on earth.
With that military application, development for reliable human transcontinental transport would be taken care of.
The BFR is basically going to be one of the most historic pieces of technology ever. It’s really unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and the breadth of its applications are basically unfathomable.
EDIT: if anything, you could just not provide any drinks or services on the BFR, including bathrooms since you can’t piss during a plane flight during landing anyways (which is the length of a BFR flight), and then just be read to get people immediately off. No carry-on luggage means you can simplify the security check.
Combine this with hyperloop infrastructure connecting you to the BFR, which also deals with the “rocket blowing up near a city” problem. So, basically, maybe 2040 is a year where the BFR type rockets transport people around the world and hyperloop carries passengers within continents more efficiently than airlines.
I bet you anything this is what Elon has already thought of. Hyperloop station links passengers to rocket ports, with their own more efficiently, well designed ports due to it being a Musk company.
10-30 minute security check for hyperloop. 30-120 minute ride on the hyperloop. 30 minute to 1.5 hour wait for rocket flight. 30 minute rocket flight. Land, get on next hyperloop to your city of choice in 30 minutes to 120 minutes.
Demand would drive the price of BFR up once it’s proven safe. So, 10k a seat would only become a reality once they have scaled up accordingly. It’ll only be proven safe enough for the riskiest people in no less than 10 years. But unlike the “it’s 5/10/15/20/x years away” fallacy, there’s actually clearly a strategy where every boundary condition to move to the next step is accounted for.