The affectionate words of DHS chief Janet Napolitano.
Side Note: I plan to post some more in-depth survey analysis on Monday.
A trip must often be at least 2 or 3 hours faster by plane for me to choose air over rail. The new TSA procedures have raised that number dramatically.
I measure that time door to door, not just flight time vs train time. So, while an actual flight might be 2 hours and the train 6 hours, the flight will also involve about an hour more time at the airport pre-departure and perhaps 30 minutes more time after arrival so that’s an extra 1.5 hours that a plane trip will require. Train stations are also usually closer to my destinations than airports which can make another 30 minutes or so difference.
1) The actual difference in time, door to door, is then 4 by air vs 6.5 by rail, so 2.5 hours.
Even so, would I really be willing to give up that extra 2.5 hours?
2) Less wasted time. With plane travel there is a ton of wasted time and interruptions, waiting in lines at check-in, waiting in lines and going through security, more waiting at the gate and waiting to get on-board, no laptop use until about 10-15 minutes after departure, laptops put away 10 – 30 minutes before landing, more time wasted deplaning, getting luggage, etc. And that’s first class. It’s worse for coach. With a train trip I walk straight to my seat, and can immediately get to work on my laptop or relax and read my Kindle, even in 2nd class.
3) Trains are much less of a hassle. I can get to a train station 10 or 15 minutes before departure and comfortably walk directly to my seat on the train. I don’t have to deal with checking in, TSA security hassles, waiting at the gate, boarding processes, fighting for overhead bin space, getting hit by rude passengers carrying too much carry-on stuff, etc.
4) Trains are more relaxing. This is a by-product of the hassle issues above. When I sit down in my seat on a train I’m fairly relaxed and able to be productive or just relax and read. I don’t have to worry about when I can or can’t use my laptop or Kindle, I can get a drink any time I want. By the time I’m in my seat on a plane I’m often a bit wound up and worn out and unless I stopped at Starbucks on my way, I have to wait a bit for anything to eat or drink (and while my airline takes American Express, they don’t make cappuccino’s)
5) More comfortable. ALL seats on a train are larger and more comfortable. It is easier to get to the aisle from a window seat on a train and easier to get up and walk around anytime you desire.
6) Many train seats include a fairly large table area.
7) Air quality on trains is massively better than the recirculated air on planes. Besides being healthier overall, I generally feel much better after an 8 hour train ride than an 8 hour plane ride.
8) Trains are reliable. They don’t suffer nearly as many delays as air travel. Well, at least the trains in Europe don’t. This, by the way, is not something I fault airlines or TSA or anyone for, it’s simply the nature of air travel vs staying on terra firma.
9) A four hour journey on a train isn’t terribly unlike settling down in a café for four hours. The food and drink aren’t usually as good, but the scenery is better and ever changing.
For me anyway, train travel wins big.
I will note that most of my travel is in Europe where train travel is a bit easier than it is in the U.S. Rail along the U.S. East coast is pretty good though, and often a better alternative to air. At least until Barack and Janet decide that if they can’t cop a feel or get a pic of my junk at the airport, that they’ll setup at Penn Station.
Even without their help making me safer on the train, I still have a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist in Times Square, on a U.S. military base, or at an Oregon Christmas Tree lighting, than on a train (and next we’ll talk about how much easier Barack and Janet find focusing on non threatening low hanging fruit than real terrorists).