Trains Are Better Than Planes

This board is from the Museum of Modern Art exhibit on typography.

Here’s why I prefer train travel to plane travel with kids.

No security line.

The conductors’ uniforms. The Amtrak conductors just look official and yet like normal people.

I like that you don’t have to wear a seat belt.

I like that you can see the terrain you’re traversing.

I like that there are smart older folks, volunteers from the National Parks Department, giving juicy lectures in the food car about the history of the Hudson River and the region. (Can you imagine anyone getting in the food galley of a plane for a lecture on the region’s history by plane?) Here are some facts from today’s lecture:

  • Did you know that National Geographic called this Northeast Corridor rail line from NYC to Montreal one of the Top 10 Most Scenic Train Rides in the country?
  • Did you know Bald Eagles are no longer endangered?
  • Did you know that this rail line was created in 1851?
  • Did you know Franklin Roosevelt had a secret ramp in Grand Central Station to board the train and presidents still use that secret passage today?

I like that you can move around the car (not the cabin).

I like that there’s never a time when you are forbidden from using electronic devices.

I like that you can plug your computer in.

Leg room.

I like that just before you reach your station, you’re encouraged to stand up and move towards the exit. (Unlike on a plane, where you’re told to stay seated until the plane has come to a complete halt.)

I am thinking about this because this week I flew to and from Chicago with the kids. I would not want to take a train with them to Chicago.

I’m writing this as we travel on Amtrak to the Adirondacks for summer camp. Six hours on the train is perfect.

What do you prefer? Train? Car? Plane?

I love Amtrak

The train conductors are service people who do not check their personalities at the door. You get to know them when you take that seven-hour train up or down between NYC and the Adirondacks.

One conductor had a plate of homemade cookies from a station mistress.

I was ogling them, smiling.

“Do you want one?”

“I’m on a diet,” I said. “I shouldn’t.”

I got up to use bathroom.

When I returned to my seat, there were two cookies beside my computer.

They were seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever eaten.

I love the Amtrak conductors. The guy then railed (!) at me about how some people spread out too much on their seats when new passengers need those seats, then he started spouting how too many people are politically correct and he’s a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh’s. Okay, I tuned out on this last part of his diatribe.

I am a huge fan of political correctness and common courtesy. And you’d think the conductor would be too, especially if he wanted passengers to share their space well.

But I didn’t get into it with him. Not with the sweet taste of chocolate chip cookies still melting in my mouth.