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#21 oregon pioneer

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 03:40 PM

I don't blame only the TSA for my resistance to flying as a means of transportation. The reasons for my dislike of flying are a whole stew of the following, and more:

  1. Unpleasant TSA experiences are likely, in my personal experience.
  2. Physical discomfort (small seats, large seatmates forcing me to lean to one side, constant noise and enforced lack of physical activity) is more than likely.
  3. If there is a hitch in travel plans, it is more difficult to get in touch with customer service, and a satisfactory resolution less likely, than with Amtrak.
  4. I am much more likely to get sick from breathing the air on an airplane than on a train.
  5. I am a sociable person. On trains, I tend to enjoy conversations, meet people I have things in common with, and occasionally make long-lasting new friends. That has not yet occurred on a plane.

And, last but not least, I PREFER traveling real-time on-the-ground, where I can admire the scenery of this beautiful country as I pass over the land, and appreciate the distances that I am traveling across. I would drive, too, but I prefer the more energy-efficient aspects of mass transit, and it's nice to have someone else doing the driving so I can admire the scenery without putting others on the road in danger, LOL. :giggle:


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#22 crabby_appleton1950

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 05:54 PM

My last flight, and I do mean 'my last flight', I was packed in the plane tighter than a sardine in a can.

I was jammed up tight against the window and the woman next to me (in the middle seat) reeked of her favorite cologne.

Fortunately it was only a 90 minute flight.



#23 KauaiJohn

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 06:54 PM

I fly from Kauai to Honolulu several times a month and most of the local tas guys are embarrassed to pat me down since we have all known each other for years- it's a very small island. But coming home from Honolulu the other day took the cake. The guy f risked all the way up until he was holding a couple of things he shouldn't have been. I was about to punch him.

#24 trainman74

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 07:10 PM

I have a friend who flies 2-3 times/year. He notes that he almost always (outside of smaller airports) gets selected for secondary screening. He has his own theories as to why that is the case, but in any event he just accepts it as the way things are. If that happened more than two or three times to me, it would be enough to dissuade me from flying commercially, period. Particularly since one can almost never find out why you are being treated the way you are (much like the No-Fly List).


For a few years before 9/11, it was seeming like every time I went through security, I was selected for the explosives residue screening (pads wiped on my hands and sometimes my carry-on bag). The only thing I could figure out was that I fit a profile as a man in my 20s with only a backpack as a carry-on.

#25 fairviewroad

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 04:16 PM

I saw the TV news reports on the airport TSA mess the past couple days,

and my fear is it will drive more people to Amtrak,

complicating life for we who are and have been Amtrak fans/riders. 

 

Selfish, I know.    smiley_24.gif

 

I would look at it as a good thing if more people were driven to Amtrak due to the TSA mess. I suspect there's a sizable percentage of Acela/NER customers who are taking the train for that reason. High load factors, while driving up your ticket price, are ultimately a good thing as rail travel becomes more relevant and normative for a greater number of people. That's what *should* ultimately lead to more rail service.

 

For instance, check out this article posted today in the Chicago Sun-Times. It reports that TSA waits exceeded two hours at O-Hare yesterday and today. Granted, for many of those people there is no viable rail alternative. But there must surely be people in those lines flying to places like Detroit, St. Louis, IND, MSP, etc. for whom there either is currently a good Amtrak choice, or would be if regional leaders stepped up their game. Many of those people are going to realize that they are spending longer in line at security than they are in the air. Some of those people are going to try the train next time. It's not just Amtrak that is capable of producing "never agains."



#26 CelticWhisper

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 04:36 PM

I'm very glad I swore off flying when I heard the news of coerced body scans being introduced in 2010 (coercion, in my opinion, being supplied by the totally-unacceptable alternative of full-body molestation).  I have to say I scratch my head a bit at the fact that after 6 years of horror stories regarding TSA groping traumatizing children and sexual-assault victims, kids having nightmares and crying that they don't want to go to Disneyland anymore after "security", and criminal arrests of TSA clerks, long lines are what make people say "enough is enough."

 

Then again, the KGW hasn't really bothered me in my 4 years of riding the rails so maybe lines just don't get under my skin the way they do with some people.  Could also be that the KGW is just a quick A-to-B and not standing around for hours.

 

Still, I echo fairviewroad's sentiment that this could be good for Amtrak if it forces people to take another look at rail and see how great it can be.  True, it might not be our own little best-kept-secret club anymore but if it means better funding for infrastructure upgrades and HSR, I can live with that as long as there's no more security at train stations than we already have (namely APD working behind the scenes and the occasional dog wandering around).

 

If the masses flee the airports to Amtrak and the TSA tries to follow, however...I fear I may have to bid the rails adieu as I did the sky.



#27 SarahZ

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 05:53 PM

I'm always amused that the body scanner is suspicious of my right knee. The past 7-8 times I've gone through security, the scanner put a square around my right knee, and one of the TSA ladies came over and said, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to pat your knee down." They've always been professional and fast. They just sort of grip my calf and knee, and it takes all of two seconds. I didn't feel "pawed".

 

Anyway, does the TSA hoopla annoy me? Yes. Here's the thing, though. For as much as I'd love to go, "@#!(% the TSA!!! I'm never flying again!!!" there is the issue of TIMEI don't have six days to dedicate to getting to Seattle or L.A. and back. I don't have four days to dedicate to getting to the east coast and back. Also, I can't afford a room anymore, and there is no way I'm sitting in coach all that time. So, when it comes down to it, I don't have the luxury of sticking to my principles when I need to be somewhere and I only have five days of paid vacation every year.

 

Plus, I actually like flying. I love takeoff and landing (especially at Midway!) The seats aren't uncomfortable because I'm short enough to have plenty of leg room. If I'm stuck next to someone with huge shoulders, I try to lean against the wall to give them more room, and if I'm a little uncomfortable, it's only for a few hours. It still beats sitting next to a stranger in coach for three days.

 

Anyway, that's my two pennies. I like traveling, pure and simple, whether it's by car, plane, or train. Sometimes you're stuck in line at the airport for over an hour. Sometimes you're stuck in traffic for over an hour. Sometimes you're stuck on a late train for over an hour. Delays happen. That's why I prepare for them by arriving at the airport early, not making plans the day a train is schedule to arrive, and giving myself padding when I drive somewhere.


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#28 RSG

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 08:13 PM

I would look at it as a good thing if more people were driven to Amtrak due to the TSA mess. I suspect there's a sizable percentage of Acela/NER customers who are taking the train for that reason. High load factors, while driving up your ticket price, are ultimately a good thing as rail travel becomes more relevant and normative for a greater number of people. That's what *should* ultimately lead to more rail service.
 
For instance, check out this article posted today in the Chicago Sun-Times. It reports that TSA waits exceeded two hours at O-Hare yesterday and today. Granted, for many of those people there is no viable rail alternative. But there must surely be people in those lines flying to places like Detroit, St. Louis, IND, MSP, etc. for whom there either is currently a good Amtrak choice, or would be if regional leaders stepped up their game. Many of those people are going to realize that they are spending longer in line at security than they are in the air. Some of those people are going to try the train next time. It's not just Amtrak that is capable of producing "never agains."

 
I hope via your theory this happens, but from my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, it's not going to happen quickly. There are still many people who don't even realize passenger train service exists, or if they do, think that corridor service somewhere else is the only option. So getting them to realize it's an option at all is the first step.
 
The second part of the equation is getting them to rationalize the time factor. I've seen people complain because the train "takes too long" or come unglued because it's two hours late (with the "I'll never ride the train again!" parting gift to everyone within earshot). Yet they'll gladly take the current travel advice and arrive three hours early to the airport and spend another hour or two waiting for a connection somewhere (perhaps even with a missed connection or flight cancellation and another delay) with the resigned attitude of "that's just the way it is". Their outlook doesn't change a bit when media images of people camping out overnight in an airport are shown. But the train is somehow on par with taking a stagecoach from New York to San Francisco.
 
I understand the plight of those like SarahZ, who have only a limited amount of time with which to get a trip in. But it still seems to me there are many who will gladly spend a day-and-a-half flying (each way) to get in two or three days of vacation travel, but yet the train just takes too long.


Edited by RSG, 17 May 2016 - 08:14 PM.


#29 Palmetto

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 06:34 AM

Here's another plight:  living a 4-hour drive from the nearest Amtrak station.  Flying is a must in this instance.



#30 oregon pioneer

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 09:15 AM

Here's another plight:  living a 4-hour drive from the nearest Amtrak station.  Flying is a must in this instance.

 

Haha, I live 3 hours from the nearest Ambus connector... and three hours from the nearest airport. I prefer Amtrak, but I will fly if it's necessary for time or logistics reasons.


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#31 jis

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 09:46 AM

 

Here's another plight:  living a 4-hour drive from the nearest Amtrak station.  Flying is a must in this instance.

 

Haha, I live 3 hours from the nearest Ambus connector... and three hours from the nearest airport. I prefer Amtrak, but I will fly if it's necessary for time or logistics reasons.

 

I am one hour from the nearest Amtrak at Kissimmee. I usually travel a lot to the NY/NJ area for day long meetings. I have my daytime work to do on both the adjacent days to the meeting day. So guess what mode I use? I will be racking up some 30,000 PQM on United around 2,000 miles per trip this year just doing round trips Orlando to Newark! That is an example of a trip that I would have done by Amtrak if there was a true overnight service from central Florida to the New York area, allowing me to meet in the NY area from say 10am through 5pm reliably. Stretching it a bit I'd even consider 11am - 4pm, but given the current infrastructure that is well beyond the realm of possibilities. Maybe someday we will see enough High or at least Higher Speed service down the Atlantic seaboard to make such possible.

 

Amtrak is useful for me when I am on vacation with much extra time, or for an occasional trip over a weekend to places like Tampa, Miami, JAX, SAV or even RGH. With the new Gulf Coast Service restoration even NOL and Mobile become possibilities.

 

But other than that it is all by air, so much so that I am a member of every possible means to make it through TSA as fast as possible. The most expensive of those is the CLEAR biometric system which together with TSAPre gets me through Orlando TSA in 5 to 10 mins always. In my usual travels Newark is usually the worst in terms of TSA wait times. Fortunately PANYNJ has read TSA the riot act and they seem to be responding in various ways. We''ll see how that goes.

 

And then there are the intercontinental trips where there is no practical way to use ground transport of any sort. I have at least one trip to India every year which is something like 18,000 mile round trip, flying over exotic places like the cities on the Silk Route (Bukhara, Samarkand, Tblisi, Tashkent), sometimes even over Meshad in Iran, over Moscow and Ekaterinburg, over the Arctic Ocean and Svalbards, and Bodo and Nordkap all north of the Arctic Circle, and all this quite often with clear weather with spectacular views of iceberg filled oceans, high mountains, vast deserts, the roof of the world, Aral Sea, Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, huge rivers like the Volga and the Don, Amu Darya (Oxus), Indus and its five feeders, the Ganga and Yamuna, and what have you. Who says there is nothing to see while flying? ;)

 

Actually AAF with a station in the Melbourne/Cocoa area and a SunRail connection from OIA Intermodal center to Orlando Amtrak or Kissimmee Amtrak, with good connection at OIA, would cause me to take the train more often for local travel. Naturally Miami (and eventually hopefully JAX too) would be nice to get to via AAF.



#32 Palmetto

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 02:58 PM

Hmm.  Premier Silver right there, Jis.



#33 jis

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 03:29 PM

Hmm.  Premier Silver right there, Jis.

Yup, Actually since I usually do that in Business First, usually that racks up close to 35,000 PQM (with the current double PQM for BF/F) depending a bit on the details of the routing. And the dozens of MCO - EWR trips and other domestic business trips rack me up close to a 40,000. So I am always pretty much guaranteed Platinum for the year as long as this travel pattern continues.


Edited by jis, 18 May 2016 - 03:29 PM.


#34 RSG

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 07:19 PM

Here's another plight:  living a 4-hour drive from the nearest Amtrak station.  Flying is a must in this instance.

 

People in my neck of the woods routinely travel 4 hours to the nearest hub airport (or else pay a $150-$400 surcharge per ticket to fly via glorified puddle jumper out of the nearest airport with scheduled service). Some slightly farther away travel longer than that to get to the hub with decent airfares. For the same drive, time-wise, I have a choice of two AMTK stations, one with free parking. For me, it's a no-brainer. The possible time savings just aren't worth the hassle of flying.



#35 Palmetto

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 08:37 AM

People in my neck of the wood do not drive 4 hours to get to the nearest airport hub.  That's a six-hour drive, and it's called Bush International [IAH].

I guess my state is bigger than your state. :)



#36 jis

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 09:48 AM

 

Here's another plight:  living a 4-hour drive from the nearest Amtrak station.  Flying is a must in this instance.

 

People in my neck of the woods routinely travel 4 hours to the nearest hub airport (or else pay a $150-$400 surcharge per ticket to fly via glorified puddle jumper out of the nearest airport with scheduled service). Some slightly farther away travel longer than that to get to the hub with decent airfares. For the same drive, time-wise, I have a choice of two AMTK stations, one with free parking. For me, it's a no-brainer. The possible time savings just aren't worth the hassle of flying.

 

I do have several Amtrak stations within 1.5 hours. The problem is there are few trains running on unreliable schedules going to places that are either ones that I don't often need to go to, or take too much time to get to the places that I do need to get to. And the honking big airport, OIA/MCO, is also within 1 hour drive. So well....

 

As a matter of detail, for example to go to Miami I can either go to my closest Amtrak station and hope that the Southbound Silvers are running on time. Or I can drive 90 minutes to a West Palm Beach and get a Tri Rail on predictable regular schedule to Miami, or wait around for unpredictable Amtrak, Or fight the traffic to Miami My tendency would be to take Tri Rail if I am going to somewhere in Miami that is reachable conveniently, which is relatively rare. So most often I just drive to Miami.

 

But then  again I don't really need to go to Miami and hence don't make that trip rarely, if at all. Where I need to go is New York, Washington DC, Houston, San Francisco/San Jose and Denver/Fort Collins. And really nothing other than Air works for those in most cases. The only time I take the train to any of those is when I have some leisure time that I want to spend on a train.



#37 Rob Creighton

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 02:24 PM

My thoughts are along the lines of Sarah Z.  Most of the places I've lived flown out of (Lubbock, TX/Indianapolis), TSA isn't a nightmare. In Lubbock you can arrive at the airport, park your car, walk from the furthest part of the parking lot, check your bags, get a boarding pass reprint, go through security (and have a pleasant conversation with them) in about 20 minutes. If it's busy, add 10 minutes. In fact, in Lubbock, you'll spend more time waiting for your luggage at baggage claim than you will any other part of the Lubbock airport experience. Indy, for a much bigger airport, was still rather quick. The places where I've had lousy experiences with wait times: O'Hare (AA TSA check point), Myrtle Beach and Love Field Dallas. I've gotten patted down a couple of times. Once or twice they've checked my carry on because I vape, and there are components of that -- that can set off a red flag. That said, when I've asked what they're looking for they've showed me. And when I've asked "how I can avoid the issue" they've actually been helpful at providing some tips. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I love TSA. Or I buy the fact that they're actually stopping a lot of the contraband they're trying to. It's inconvenient, it adds stress at the beginning of a journey and it can be frustrating, but it is what it is, and I've learned the less aggravated I let myself get about the process, the less stressful and easier it is to go through. 

Because I'm in Lubbock-- it makes flying almost always a necessity. There may be one train that rolls through a New Mexico or Texas City closer than Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio or ABQ, but it doesn't change a very long journey to Chicago. And with trying to do two visits a year with 3 weeks vacation, yeah, the luxury to burn precious vacation days on a train at the expense of spending times with loved ones and friends or the odd ball sanity day throughout the year ranks lower than riding the rails. Would I love to do it? Yes. And I'll probably do it at least once at some point, hopefully. But for now, I'll make the best of crowded airliners, and get where I need to go and be there in hours instead of days. 

As for delays, those can happen on any mode of transportation. I remember sitting at Union Station on a horribly late "City of New Orleans" that didn't depart Chicago until it was supposed to be at my destination: Champaign, Illinois. I was on a LSL that was busstituted between Cleveland and Buffalo. And the Wolverine that left so late that they terminated the service in Detroit and stuck us on busses the rest of they. As far as airlines go. I got stuck in a Southwest Airlines melt down in Dallas, that was fun. As was having my AA flight cancelled out of Chicago because of a stray thunderstorm. AA pretty much wiped out most of their Dallas flights. I've also been on full flights and flights where the whole row was mine, same with Amtrak. At the end of the day it's a crap shoot with either mode of transportation.

One more thing. If Amtrak truly wants to increase ridership, they need to make the corridor and short haul travel quicker and more convenient schedule wise. When I lived in Indy I never rode the Hoosier State (I know it's not really Amtrak anymore) because it was longer than driving, no cheaper than driving, and limited my time in Chicago. I make the time to take the longer train ride to Pontiac, MI from Chicago because I absolutely hate doing that drive, but it takes a couple of hours longer than driving, and Amtrak sets my visiting schedule with family vs. me. It's mainly I hate driving, and don't want to rent a car that pushes me to Amtrak.  
 



#38 CCC1007

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 02:50 PM

In March I was able to clear security in 15 minutes in Seattle, from curbside to secure side.

#39 jis

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 04:00 PM

As I said earlier, with CLEAR and Pre, I can generally clear security in Orlando in 5 - 10 minutes irrespective of the size of the crowd, and Orlando can get reeeeaaally bad, with the general lines winding all the way to the shopping mall. With just TSA Pre I have in the best case, done it in 10 mins or so, and worst case 25 to 30 mins, but that was a while back before I sprung for and renewed my dormant CLEAR membership.



#40 Ryan

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 04:39 PM

Yep, it's somewhat amazing. Even with just PreCheck, it's not uncommon for me to walk into the terminal, drop my bag (if I have one) and walk straight through security w/o waiting in line.
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