- Mar 22, 2011
I've flown first class exactly once (it was a complimentary upgrade, else my company would never have paid for it). The bigger seat was nice, but there really wasn't that much difference over coach (of course, I was smaller then...). On board a train, OTOH, the upgrade from Coach to Sleeper is like the difference between night and day (quite literally...). As far as the "travel days" argument goes, in my case it's just to demonstrate that aboard a train a lot of what would be "dead time" in air travel can be used productively. Yes, a lot of times when I was a merchant seaman (early 90s) I would wake up at four in the morning to get to the airport to take a six am flight, and be on the ship and at work by two in the afternoon (transfers from airport to seaport can take a while).Absolutely. A very valid response. Another.... I hate to fly, another valid response. I'm afraid of heights. Valid. I love to see the country. Valid. My entire point of entering this thread was the non valid responses that were down right mis-information. I ride trains because planes burn 10 times as much gas. Not Valid. Transcontinental flights burn 20000+ gallons fuel to cross the country. Nope. I ride trains long distances to save the environment. Debatable. I ride trains because i'm giving up a whole day so why not give up another day and a half. (I still dont understand that one) I ride trains because the TSA takes so long and coach class on the airlines is like cattle, so I'm going to pay 5x as much for a roomette. ( have you perhaps tried a more premium airline product)
But when I'm on my own nickel...you know what? I don't LIKE waking up at four in the morning! And with TSA, you can't reliably count on making a six am flight with an hour lead time (because everyone else is trying to make the same flight), so that's a THREE am wake-up call! So push back to a more reasonable hour of the day...and the TSA lines get longer, and the traffic to the airport gets worse (on both ends), and before you know it the entire day is basically shot.
Now, of course, it depends upon how far I'm going. We had an Alaska cruise out of Vancouver planned for September 2017 (Hurricane Harvey had other plans). And, yes, we would have flown to and from that cruise although it would have been possible to take Amtrak from Houston, to L.A., to Seattle, overnight there, and continue on Amtrak to Vancouver. And to take the Alaska Railroad and Marine Highway back! If I'd had unlimited money and time I would have done exactly that, but shoehorning that and an eleven day cruise/tour into a two-week vacation period just doesn't fit. So I would have gritted my teeth, woke up at three am (actually, would have paid extra for a hotel room at the big airport...extra night and expense to the trip), and suffered through airline coach for the duration (and much worse than that for the return from Fairbanks via Anchorage and Seattle). But when I was planning to travel from Houston to L.A. for a convention in May 2018, I didn't even seriously look at the airlines even though I now live within walking distance of Hobby Airport (well...hiking!). Much better to leave downtown at dinner time, spend a day relaxing aboard the Sunset Limited, and arrive L.A. before breakfast the second morning...at least as far as I'm concerned.
Rail travel doesn't work for all trips, obviously. But for certain city pairs it can be competitive in all respects. Depart Houston at lunchtime and arrive St. Louis immediately after breakfast the next day, spending less (for a Roomette shared two ways) than it would have cost to buy even the cheapest ticket available on Southwest Airlines at the time? A no-brainer, again as far as I'm concerned. I do agree that I'm cherry-picking my cases...but I also think that with a bit of wise management and consistent investment that there could be a good bit more cherries on dat tree....