Friday, August 30, 2013

The “Joys” of Air Travel: What I’m Doing About It

Train marquee

I travel quite a bit on business and it never ceases to amaze me how inconvenient and stressful air travel can be. To combat that inconvenience and stress (and to keep my sanity), I’ve started taking the train whenever I can and I highly recommend it to you. It’s a lifesaver!

In the past two years, my town’s air service has gone from decent to awful. We’ve seen Jet Blue cancel all direct routes to NYC, leaving Delta as the only choice. Since the United/Continental merger, I’ve seen my normal United routes whither away to nothing, making it difficult to match my scheduling needs to the airlines’ schedules. According to a story this week in our local newspaper, because Delta has emerged as the “winner” on some routes, they now have what amounts to a monopoly and we’ve seen rates go up 700% since November 2010. Let’s just hope that the US Airways/American merger doesn’t happen and that Southwest has a positive impact on this market when they join us this Fall.

Amtrak Hotspot

Just last night I stepped off of the train after a business trip north. I love the train because it’s convenient, comfortable, and I can be productive 100% of time (if I want). Depending on where I’m going, I can choose the Acela (the express train from Washington to points north), the regular passenger train (Business Class and Coach) or a “sleeper” train which offers coach seating and two different types of private rooms which are for overnight passengers or business travelers like me who want to spread out and work. Unlike traveling by air, there’s literally nothing I can’t do on the train that I can’t do in my home office. I answer email, participate on conference calls, etc. It’s amazing that when I get to my destination, I’m relaxed and ready to go. There’s no tired, drained feeling like I have when I leave the airport. I love it!

Normally, I book a business class ticket, which is hundreds of dollars less than any plane ticket I could purchase to my final destination. I do this because there’s more room than coach, multiple electrical plugs per seat and it is generally more quiet. On this week’s trip, I had a business class seat on the departure but on the return trip, I was booked on a “sleeper” train, which does not have business class.  I had never been on a sleeper train but booked the smaller of the two rooms available. My room consisted of 2 seats facing each other (which convert to one bed), an upper bed (a “bunk) which pulls down from the ceiling, a sink, toilet, lighting, electrical outlets, privacy curtains, storage and air temperature control. By closing the curtains to the aisle, I had a nice, private little space. My fare also included a really good dinner, with more than enough entree options (when’s the last time you had a full meal on a plane???), and there was an attendant who made sure everyone was well taken care of. See below for pictures of my “room:”

Amtrak room 1
One of the seats with reading lamp above
amtrak Room 2
The second seat where I stored my stuff---there is storage available but I didn’t use it
amtrak Room 3
The sink folds down and there is a toilet right below
amtrak Room 4
Relaxing as I work!!

It’s a compact space but so much better than a seat on a plane! There is a another room option that includes more room and it may even include a table or “couch.” While the space I had is meant for up to 2 people, I would probably get the bigger room if I was traveling with my husband. The cost for this trip was so much less than an airline flight and I wasn’t exhausted when I returned home last night.

If you’re tired of the hassle of flying and your schedule permits, check out Amtrak as an option. You won’t be sorry!!