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Are You Afraid Of Flying?

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I may be overestimating this factor but I believe one of the biggest reasons for LD train service is for people afraid of flying a means to travel long distance/coast to coast. Someone asked me why do I need a train from PHL-CHI when there are plenty of flights available? You know the answer to that. You'd probably ask why Las Vegas and Nashville also need trains for the same reason. I know many of you have traveled cross country on trains. Do you really not want to take trains to Vegas when you certainly will train cross country to Portland for Gathering 11? I know there is an active thread about going to Las Vegas and you can't take a train all the way to the Strip now. Does your fear of or dislike of flying a reason why you travel long distances on trains?

 

I do know many of you are from the pre-Amtrak days when air travel was not as abundant as it is today and/or rail travel was more abundant. On the other hand those in my generation have had to deal with just one (or two) trains from the East Coast to CHI and some large cities have just graveyard service. CIN has only graveyard service 3x/week but has been (not sure today) a Delta hub. HOS has 3/week service but was a Continental hub. If Cincinnati residents have a choice between a train that only comes in the middle of the night (and a really long train to WAS/NYP) or a choice of many flights to many destinations across the country, which would people in their 30's/40's take? Back in the 60's though there were many more trains to/from CHI and assuredly better times so I can see the "old" people having more of a love for trains. Back in my day I had no trains in my area before I moved. The PRIIA's in general have shown the average age of an LD train passenger is usually in the 50's (Crescent 58, Lake Shore Limited 54, Silver Service 57, https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/570/756/2011%20PRIIA%20210%20Report%2009-26-11_final.pdf. This is bad news for the market for LD travel in the future. For Amtrak's sake, hopefully the fear of terrorism and/or poor customer service will draw passengers away from flights, especially in that 200-500 mile range where the difference in travel time is not as much as for coast to coast travel. Faster trains outside of the NEC hopefully will help as well (it is clear travel inside the area is very popular). We know there is a market between NEC-CHI and NEC-Florida, the question is how do we grow these markets (and others)?

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I may not be "afraid of flying", as I voted.

But all the hassle of going through security, increasing lack of room, diminished services, etc has turned me off on flying.

 

I've made three round trips to/from Albuquerque <-> San Diego in the past several years.

I can get there quicker and cheaper by plane, but choose to take Amtrak at a higher cost and requiring over night travel.

 

The one time I flew, the passenger next to me was practically sitting on my lap, and the one tiny bag of pretzels was comical.

Edited by crabby_appleton1950

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I'm not afraid of flying, I find it undesirable.

Perhaps question one should be re-worded/split.

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I think the generation that actually feared flying as being "dangerous" is mostly, or will soon be gone...it is now more a dislike of the experience, as it has evolved.

So more people will switch to other modes for shorter travel, but unless they are retired, or love train travel, will still tolerate the unpleasant air experience for transcontinental trips...

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I am not afraid of flying. Although I would prefer to have the controls (as any good pilot does) when I am in an airplane (or car for that matter).

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Flying may be good if you're well prepared for. Caught in a crowd is stressful- some people are having no common sense with those large suitcases or even tons of personal belongings, long lines, coughings, timing, weather delayed our even cancellation, etc.

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1. I'm not afraid of flying, but flying comes with hassles that I sometimes find undesirable (security lines, cramped seats, mediocre service, diminishing comps), although I receive better service during my international flights.

 

2. I have flown 6 times in 2012, 4 times a year in 2014 and 2015, twice in 2016, and none yet this year although I am flying at the end of this year (my first flight in almost two years), and of course it will be an international flight with either KAL or AAR, routing is either KSEA->RKSI or KLAX->RKSI.

For domestic flights, I have flown KSEA->KPDX (QXE) twice in 2012, KPDX->KORD (ASA/UAL) twice in 2014 and once in 2015, and KORD->KDEN (UAL) then KDEN->KPDX (UAL) in 2016.

For international flights, I have flown KSEA-RKSI (AAR) four times in 2012 and twice in 2013, RKSI->KSFO (KAL/AAR) once in 2013 and twice in 2014 and 2015, and KLAX->RKSI (KAL) once in 2013 and 2015 and twice in 2014.

 

For those not familiar with ICAO codes, I will save you research.

Airport codes:

KSEA: Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac)

KPDX: Portland

KDEN: Denver

KORD: O'Hare

KLAX: Los Angeles

RKSI: Seoul-Inch'ŏn

 

Airline codes:

QXE: Horizon (Alaska/Horizon)

ASA: Alaska

UAL: United

KAL: Korean Air

AAR: Asiana

 

3. Since I live in Klamath Falls, I am taking the Coast Starlight to and from the Gathering.

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I enjoy take offs and landings. I don't mind the hassle at the airport.

 

I'm flying to SJC to visit family, then catching the CS to the gathering. Then taking the EB-CL-NER home

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I don't know too many people who are afraid of flying. I just come from a generation where it was just so familiar and common. I know John Madden was well known for his fear of flying, but in before his dedicated buses he apparently took Amtrak.

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I have two different answers for the two distinct questions in #1. Impossible to answer as it's currently set up.

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Far from being afraid of flying, I actually love to fly and look forward to it. Then again, I love to ride trains too and look forward to it and very actively campaign for its growth in the US as part of a balanced transportation policy. For me it is not at all an exclusive either/or question. Each has its proper place in the mix.

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The point I was trying to prove was that just because you have an airport doesn't mean you don't "need" an airport. Whether it is fear of or dislike for, there should be another option for those who don't/don't want to fly.

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Now I am baffled. How are any answer trends to those questions going to establish (or not) the point that you were trying to make? And of course it is not even clear to me what exactly the point is that you ar trying to test either.

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By the time I was old enough to comprehend what might be scary about flying I had already flown enough times to be completely comfortable with it. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I started flying as an adult during the early days of commercial aviation with lax regulations, poor maintenance, and cowboy pilots. I've flown across enormous oceans and through heavy rain, snow, fog, wind, lightning, and turbulence without issue. Even on flights where people around me are crying and praying I'm just chilling with a magazine or looking out the window. Many years ago there was one random flight over Arizona or New Mexico that really bothered me for five or ten minutes but that was it. It never happened before and hasn't happened since. Just some sort of random overactive lizard brain reaction to seeing a desert thirty thousand feet below me.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I don't know too many people who are afraid of flying. I just come from a generation where it was just so familiar and common. I know John Madden was well known for his fear of flying, but in before his dedicated buses he apparently took Amtrak.

I had the good fortune of traveling on the SFZ three times when John Madden was aboard...

He was not actually afraid of the flying, but rather he suffered from a severe form of claustrophobia, that really had him sweating, as soon as the airliner door was sealed shut. He did in fact fly while he was the head coach of the Oakland Raider's (he had to), but when he retired from that, and became a commentator for CBS, he traveled on Amtrak for a few years, until he was given the "Maddencruiser" motor home...

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I am not afraid to fly and never have. My first flight was at the age of seven and I still remember the eager anticipation I had of that flight. Much of that eagerness had to do with the fact our family was flying at the end of May and I got to leave first grade and our child-hating witch of a teacher several days early. But that's a story for a different day. ;):lol: Like DA, I only recall once when I felt uneasy on a flight, and that was on the approach to Oakland's airport which is right on the bay. For whatever reason flying that low over water made me nervous. Maybe it's a family thing; my mom says the only time she was ever nervous on a flight was also on the approach to Oakland.

 

At any rate, I don't mind flying, and the TSA hassle is much less since I spent $85 to get a KTN last year. Best use of $85 I've had in years. For the trips I take, flying one way and taking the train works best as I have limited vacation time. I do prefer the train but fly when I need to. And don't mind doing so.

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I'm not afraid of flying, but I am afraid at times of the 200+ people in the back, I'm responsible for! I've been an airline pilot for almost 19 years now, and most of the drama I've experienced has been passenger related.

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I'm not afraid of flying, at all...I earned my ticket as a private aerobatic pilot in 1998, although I'm currently inactive for medical reasons. I just avoid airline travel as much as reasonably possible due to TSA/security issues, unbelievably cramped seating, and customer service which makes Amtrak look like a five-star resort.

 

I have a trip to St. Louis and back planned later this month for a conference. I'm taking Amtrak both ways. No airline hassles, and I should arrive from the overnight trip refreshed and in good shape...were I to drive I would either have to stop at a motel en route or else I would arrive totally wiped out and immediately have to go to my room and rest. In September, though, I'm planning an Alaskan cruise/tour with my parents. We're flying from Houston to Vancouver, BC (via LAX) on the outbound leg and from Fairbanks to Houston (via Anchorage and Seattle) on the return. No reasonable alternative to flying there.

 

(Yes, I know about the Alaska Marine Highway and we did take Amtrak from Houston to Vancouver last year. However, as a full-time employee with limited vacation time and income I don't consider an extra two weeks' travel time, and the associated expense, "reasonable".)

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I've been an airline pilot for almost 19 years now, and most of the drama I've experienced has been passenger related.

 

To be fair to the passengers it's hard to imagine freight causing much drama. I'm not sure who you fly with but I've noticed that US airlines seem to have a lot more drama than most of the others. I've seen some weird stuff on airlines from Europe and Asia, but when it comes to genuine hatred and actual violence it's the US airlines that always seem to be at the top of the list. Although I have no proof I think it's a combination of factors starting with the airlines and airports treating their own staff very poorly, who then take it out on their customers, who then take it out on each other or direct it back at the airline staff again. It's a vicious cycle just waiting for the next flash point to heat up. It could be an as minor as an unexpected charge, the loss of a important amenity, being shoved ever closer to each other, or suffering a loss of dignity. In the end the only people who seem to benefit from the status quo are the faceless bean counters changing the rules hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the people whose lives they casually manipulate like meaningless pawns on a spreadsheet.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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DA I think it is a cultural thing. American culture leans towards threatening arrests, beating people up, tazering and ultimately simply opening fire on each other as a legitimate means of resolving arguments and solving problems, and it simply reflects everywhere. I find it odd that the very behavior we claim to strive to stop or mitigate in other countries by our intervention is precisely the stuff we tend to do to ourselves given half a chance at home. Oh well....

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DA I think it is a cultural thing. American culture leans towards threatening arrests, beating people up, tazering and ultimately simply opening fire on each other as a legitimate means of resolving arguments and solving problems, and it simply reflects everywhere. I find it odd that the very behavior we claim to strive to stop or mitigate in other countries by our intervention is precisely the stuff we tend to do to ourselves given half a chance at home. Oh well....

 

Much as I hate to say it, that's a very good observation unfortunately.

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DA I think it is a cultural thing. American culture leans towards threatening arrests, beating people up, tazering and ultimately simply opening fire on each other as a legitimate means of resolving arguments and solving problems, and it simply reflects everywhere. I find it odd that the very behavior we claim to strive to stop or mitigate in other countries by our intervention is precisely the stuff we tend to do to ourselves given half a chance at home. Oh well....

Much as I hate to say it, that's a very good observation unfortunately.

 

Agreed.

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jis makes a very good observation about cultural norms, but I think it has less to do with the approach to resolving problems than the fact that American [uSA] society has different standards as it relates to expectations as well as personal space.

There are notable pictures about bus and rail travel from other parts of the world where the passengers are piled on like damp laundry and hanging out of the doors and windows. Aside from the regulatory and legal environment which would prohibit such conditions, there is no way that most Americans would tolerate being that close to another human for anything longer than an average urban public transit trip. When there are breakdowns in the latter and the people on board are trapped even for less than an hour the stories from the survivors are akin to hearing those from the front lines of overseas combat. So when the personal space on an airliner becomes more and more cramped, the anxiety level rises and with it the frustration and the impulse to act out about it (often, though not always, misdirected).

Frequent Amtrakers, including myself, can tell stories about new rail travelers who hit the dining car and are incensed because they can't have a table all to themselves or their one other companion. Community dining is an absurd concept and shouldn't be expected outside of a commune, college or camp dining hall, or hippie restaurant. Yet in other parts of the world it's rather common and quite ordinary.

All in all, there's a sense of entitlement among most of the social classes in the US that one usually only finds in the upper echelon in other countries. On our airlines we want the seat pitch and comfort of an average Amtrak coach seat in nothing more than a 2 x 2 configuration with full meal service in coach, luggage which flies for no additional charge, and no more than a median cost of $280 round trip between two multi-state destinations. That such a scenario just isn't possible in modern society (and, with very few exceptions, never was), doesn't phase those who think it should be the norm and react in antisocial ways when they realize only one of those requirements might be an option on any given flight.

Edited by RSG

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Frequent Amtrakers, including myself, can tell stories about new rail travelers who hit the dining car and are incensed because they can't have a table all to themselves or their one other companion. Community dining is an absurd concept and shouldn't be expected outside of a commune, college or camp dining hall, or hippie restaurant. Yet in other parts of the world it's rather common and quite ordinary.

 

 

Oddly enough the shared table concept in trendy restaurants seems to have eased up a bit or eased off in acceptance. I'm trying to remember, as an aside, if one could have a private table when we traveled in Europe in the past, but just can't remember.

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Speaking of cultural norms, I came across a very intriguing, interesting one on my last trip to India. What I describe below appears to be the norm only in the Kolkata South Suburban section of Eastern Railway. I did not observe it anywhere else in Kolkata Suburban service.

 

My sister and I were traveling on a longish trip by suburban train in the Kolkata South Suburban section from Ballygunge to the end of the line almost on the Bay of Bengal at Namkhana (you can look it up in a map if you like - Ballygunge is the second stop from the terminal station at Sealdah South). Since we got on at Ballygunge which is not the originating station of the service, we piled in as is usual into an already SRO train, and were reconciled to standing all the way. Of course as the train proceeded further from Kolkata it started emptying out some and a few got seats, but mostly those that were standing continued to stand. Until we reached about the halfway point, at which the strangest thing happened. Everyone that was sitting stood up and offered their seats to people that were standing, and we managed to get seats! We were mystified and asked folks what happened. They said that this is a tradition on this line. People like to share their good fortune of getting a seat with their fellow passengers. I chalked that one up for collective sense of humanity of people who otherwise are poor to lower middle class in most cases on that line. Indeed south of a certain point on that line, if you travel at night you will find a distinct lack of electricity except on the railway, which is electrified, as are almost all busy line on the IR. Chalk one up for local tradition that is exemplary.

 

Naturally on the way back we knew what to do when the halfway point was reached, should the need arise. Fortunately we were by then in late evening traveling against the major outbound flow from Kolkata, so the train was not crowded enough to require anyone to stand.

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