Comparison of Amtrak "Never Again" with "Never Again" on other transportation

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I have ridden on Amtrak since the late 80's, probably well over 250K actual miles, so I am a big advocate for others to start using Amtrak for a relaxing trip. I talked a Pastor friend of mine into riding Amtrak this weekend to see family in Louisiana. I did prepare them that often freight congestion delays Amtrak trains. They chose to travel in Coach since the trip would not be over night. Unfortunately, the Pastor and his wife, had a very bad experience. They were delayed in San Antonio because of mechanical problem. UP dispatch had the Sunset Limited on a siding while several trains passed by. With a sold out car, the AC could not keep up, so Pastor, who is a big man, was sweating most of the trip. A freight train crew in front of the SL blew up so again sitting. To add to everything, two drunks got into a fight near their seats. The Conductor split up the two and to avoid further confrontations placed them in different cars. To add to the bad trip, while they were in the Sightseer, someone moved their hat checks and personal items to other seats, not together. They found the Conductor, who resolved the situation, but not before they received some hateful looks. They finally arrived almost 6 hours late on a trip that was to take about 12 hours. Pastor's wife made the decision they were flying home. Pastor wrote a short post how they would never travel by train again. I am hoping that he doesn't bring up Amtrak on his radio show. I am sure Mr. Gardner would be thrilled as this most likely could affect negatively other potential first time riders.
 
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Not really sure what to say here. Unfortunate that they had a bad trip and seemingly bad luck - but sometimes bad luck is bad luck and a bad trip is a bad trip. The whole “never again” thing and blasting with bad reviews is somewhat a product of all of us sometimes being a bit entitled as consumers. Sometimes you just have bad luck and a bad experience that doesn’t mean no one should travel by train. Obviously in a free market you don’t do things if you don’t enjoy them - but That doesn’t mean every trip has those same problems or that train travel should go away. Train travel simply isn’t for everyone even when on board service is perfect. I would hope this person would consider that before blasting train travel on their radio show.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Seems like they got really unlucky with the coach - both with the AC issue and with fellow passengers. I’ve had a few really odd coach trips that have led me to always book a higher class when available (on airlines too.)

I know that’s not an option for everyone but it usually avoids these weird situations.

Too bad he wouldn’t try it on the way back. :-/.
 
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Count me in with the "I'll never fly X airline again!" crowd...17 years ago. I was at their highest-level frequent flyer rewards category and various perks from gate checked garment bag carry on priority (left in the pouring rain...twice!) to missed connection priority (overnight hotel on my own) went out the window with them 3 times in less than a year. They merged with another global airline several years back. I stopped flying the merged airline as well. But then, I stopped flying altogether except for emergencies about 12 years ago.

While I haven't heard any 'never again's muttered by detraining passengers in the past 15 years or so, 30-40 years ago, I don't think I got off any LD Amtrak trains without hearing that spoken by multiple passengers.
 

caravanman

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Hmm, so no "turning the other cheek" for the trip home?

Big guy sweating on the train, maybe it was not so much the A/C not being good...?

Folk get annoyed when they feel they have been mis-sold something, or buy a product that does not perform as advertised.
I feel strongly that this is often the problem for 1st time riders. If there was a (being honest]plain warning about potential delays of several hours before folk booked tickets, then they would know what to expect.
As it is, we as train fans know about the problems, but the Amtrak advertising paints a very rosy picture.

You may say that it would be commercial suicide to have such a notice, but isn't the opposite true too, that presenting a trouble free trip as the norm is mis-selling the service and leading to passengers saying "never again"?

Matching expectations to the reality is always going to help in enjoying any experience, and so helping one give accurate subsequent pastoral advice, maybe...
 

Everydaymatters

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"Never Again!" were the words I spoke in 1987 when I took my granddaughter from Bloomington, Il to Fullerton, Ca in coach. Our train hit two cars, a man threatening other passengers was taken off the train, the train was very late. While the man was threatening the lives of other passengers, our TA disappeared. When he re-appeared he asked if anyone noticed that he had disappeared until the coach was safe. But in those days there was a Crew Chief and he hosted Bingo in the diner. I won a steak dinner! So, here I am, years later, and I dread the day when I can never again ride the train.
 

cirdan

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With an airline disruption or cancellation you are often at or near an airport. You can usually go to a hotel and re-book a day or so later. With an Amtrak disruption you are often a prisoner on a non-moving train and can do little about it.
With a multi-day or even one day airline delay it may in many cases be quicker to go by train or even by bus.

But most people will prefer to wait patiently because they prefer to be unreasonably late than to get out of their comfort zone.
 
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I could seeing cutting Amtrak some slack for bad luck, but six issues for a single, (scheduled) six-hour journey? What I heard from riding last time in the Midwest, is that Amtrak management does not care about their employees or passengers.

As to airlines, the last trip I took with one former European flag carrier suffered a dozen screw-ups over a couple ca. 8 hour flights. Post-travel research revealed that the airline had broken themselves up into a holding company and over 500 subsidiaries and single-customer subcontractors: to dispense with long standing obligations to their employees and indirectly their customers. It was sad, because they used to be a reliable if somewhat rule-bound carrier.

[off-topic question deleted]
 
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TheVig

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I've heard "never again" on just about every mode of transportation there is.

We are those types that always plan for worse case scenarios. So when things happen, we are much more adept at taking things with a grain of salt.

The one time I truly felt bad for a fellow passenger, was during a winter storm, and every flight was canceled, and the next day was a no-go too. She missed her mom's funeral. Bus and trains were not available either.
 

cassie225

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My experience, my hubbie and I were on the train from Hammond to Memphis, train had accident right outside terminal, we had to wait hours for whoever that comes to clear the train and see the accident, hubbie said never again, but we had train tickets back to Hammond, recently he told someone, the trip to Memphis was nice on the train, attitudes change , I was shocked, said he would do it again.Just saying
 

Ziv

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Count me in with the "I'll never fly X airline again!" crowd...17 years ago. I was at their highest-level frequent flyer rewards category and various perks from gate checked garment bag carry on priority (left in the pouring rain...twice!) to missed connection priority (overnight hotel on my own) went out the window with them 3 times in less than a year. They merged with another global airline several years back. I stopped flying the merged airline as well. But then, I stopped flying altogether except for emergencies about 12 years ago.

While I haven't heard any 'never again's muttered by detraining passengers in the past 15 years or so, 30-40 years ago, I don't think I got off any LD Amtrak trains without hearing that spoken by multiple passengers.
Amtrak is in a relatively unique situation in which they don't have competition in their transportation niche, i.e. passenger rail. You either "fly Amtrak" or you drive or fly, there are no competing passenger railroads. So when a person has a really bad trip with Amtrak, they may be done with passenger rail for good.
Airlines are different. If you have a horrible experience with Jet Blue, you may still be willing to use Delta or United. I have almost always traveled with United and have had good experiences almost all the time. Crossing my fingers and knocking on wood. But I hear from other travelers that they hate United and would never travel with them. And I hear the same bad stuff about Delta, albeit from different travelers. Those same people that hate one airline, though, will probably still be willing to fly on another airline.
But the Amtrak management team seems to be comfortable with a level of service that is probably going to drive away a substantial minority of its LD customer base. Between the poorly maintained cars, the overworked staff, the low on time performance and the relative lack of low bucket fares, they just seem ready to lose customers ad nauseam. I had hoped that the large transfusion of cash that they have received and/or will receive would change matters, but it really hasn't seemed to have helped yet. I am holding out hope that we will see an improvement in the years to come but I won't hold my breath.
 
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The trip described justified a never again response. In other countries trains run on time. Even in Russia and Australia. The freight train interference was avoidable except for the train that broke down. The air conditioning needs to work-period. It’s hot in that part of the country.

I enjoy trains and will tolerate a lot to get my ride in. But that doesn’t excuse Amtrak for failing in so many area consistently.
 

Barb Stout

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With an airline disruption or cancellation you are often at or near an airport. You can usually go to a hotel and re-book a day or so later. With an Amtrak disruption you are often a prisoner on a non-moving train and can do little about it.
Really? When it happened to me, I just had to hang around the airport and wait for news without knowing when the news was going to arise. Granted, it's been a few years, like 15-20, since I flew on a "regular basis" and had rare to occasional things like that happen. Perhaps the airlines have changed how they handle these things.
 
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jis

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I have actually wondered how many that say "Never again" actually follow through, specially among those who have to travel a lot. If someone who travels once in a blue moon says "Never again" it is probably much easier for them to follow through and the impact on the carrier is probably quite minimal too.
 

Gary Behling

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I have ridden on Amtrak since the late 80's, probably well over 250K actual miles, so I am a big advocate for others to start using Amtrak for a relaxing trip. I talked a Pastor friend of mine into riding Amtrak this weekend to see family in Louisiana. I did prepare them that often freight congestion delays Amtrak trains. They chose to travel in Coach since the trip would not be over night. Unfortunately, the Pastor and his wife, had a very bad experience. They were delayed in San Antonio because of mechanical problem. UP dispatch had the Sunset Limited on a siding while several trains passed by. With a sold out car, the AC could not keep up, so Pastor, who is a big man, was sweating most of the trip. A freight train crew in front of the SL blew up so again sitting. To add to everything, two drunks got into a fight near their seats. The Conductor split up the two and to avoid further confrontations placed them in different cars. To add to the bad trip, while they were in the Sightseer, someone moved their hat checks and personal items to other seats, not together. They found the Conductor, who resolved the situation, but not before they received some hateful looks. They finally arrived almost 6 hours late on a trip that was to take about 12 hours. Pastor's wife made the decision they were flying home. Pastor wrote a short post how they would never travel by train again. I am hoping that he doesn't bring up Amtrak on his radio show. I am sure Mr. Gardner would be thrilled as this most likely could affect negatively other potential first time riders.
Why does it matter if he is a pastor? I'm a fork lift driver and I believe I would enjoy a trip exactly like the one you describe since I would be in my comfy bedroom ---- not riding coach. I had an Amtrak experience 20 times worse than that and yet I come back and back and back again. I will never stop no matter how bad because I love riding trains. PERIOD
 

cirdan

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I have actually wondered how many that say "Never again" actually follow through, specially among those who have to travel a lot. If someone who travels once in a blue moon says "Never again" it is probably much easier for them to follow through and the impact on the carrier is probably quite minimal too.
True that. Some of the airlines I fly with most regularly are the ones that I despise the most.

But I do continue to fly with them because in some cases I don't really have any choice because no other carrier provides a connection that is as useful to me between those particular city pairs.

So maybe it's a chicken and egg filter. Because I fly with them more I am more likely to experience negative situations and the effects of unfriendly or incompetent staff.
 

joelkfla

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Why does it matter if he is a pastor? I'm a fork lift driver and I believe I would enjoy a trip exactly like the one you describe since I would be in my comfy bedroom ---- not riding coach. I had an Amtrak experience 20 times worse than that and yet I come back and back and back again. I will never stop no matter how bad because I love riding trains. PERIOD
There are pastors, and there are pastors. It doesn't necessarily say anything about the person.

But you said it yourself: you love riding trains and you've ridden Amtrak again and again.

A negative experience has a much bigger impact on someone who is trying it out for the first time.
 
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Regarding airlines, the last time I flew Delta, I had a very bad experience, perhaps the worst customer service I'd ever had. It would be easy to say "never again" with them but there may be cases where Delta is my best or only choice, so I will bite the bullet in that case. On another occasion, I had a bad experience with Northwest. I took pains to avoid them after that. However, my mom and I took a trip through a tour company in Spokane to Branson, MO, which involved having to fly Northwest. My mom and I weren't at all looking forward to it, but the customer service we experienced by Northwest personnel was exemplary; could not have been better. So in that case there was something to be said for second chances.
 
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