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Planes, trains, automobiles

 5:58 pm on Mar 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm headed to a search conference later this month. I normally fly, but I've just done the math, and I ain't liking it.

Distance to airport: about 1.5-2 hours.
2 hours prior to flight to be safe.
+ all the nonsense getting through security. Take off my shoes, full body image.
sit on the tarmac for 20 minutes.
1 hour 20 minute flight with my 3 foot @zz poured into a 2 foot seat, poor sob beside me.
1hour plus cab ride.

So I'm looking at roughly 6 hours or possibly more for a just over an hour flight.

Now contrast the train.
Distance to train station about 1.5 -2 hours.
8 hour trip. No lead time.
1/2 hour cab ride, maybe not even.
And the business class train costs the same as the coach flight.

So for the trade off of about 3 hours the differences are:
- no intrusive security searches and airport hassles. No check in, no waiting for 2 hours in the terminal. Just park the car, get on the train.
- much more comfortable trip. I'll bring 3-4 novels that I'll attempt to read between naps.
- no figuring out today's stupid security tricks as to what brand of shampoo I can carry on.

Years ago, the decision would've been a 1.5 hour flight vs an 8 hour train ride. Now the flight is almost as long as the train. and for the difference in time is offset by my objection to the security measures.

Am I a tinfoil hat on this? Are others turning from airfare?



 12:15 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

my objection to the security measures.

I am furious at the imbecilic ways airport security operates. Of course treating passengers like Auschwitz prisoners makes plane flights more safe. That doesn't make it appropriate or acceptable.


 12:32 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, well the security measures are a bit of a misnomer.


 2:06 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Flying has always been the most safe mode of transportation. These new attacks on privacy doesn't make flying any safer, as that's close to impossible. It's only harassment, that's all.

I will pick train over plane any time I can.


 5:38 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, but having made terrorism a huge issue, it is now politically impossible to say that the threat is not actually significant, so they have to be seen doing something.

Trains are very safe as well. Consistently well under one death per billion passenger km in the UK.


 6:12 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I look at distance, time, cost. Most times auto or train are better choices for 400 miles or less than air travel.


 8:47 am on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

There was a similar thread to this recently and much the same sentiment was expressed then. I used to enjoy travelling by air but not so now. I still enjoy the flying part of the equation, it's just the increased hassle, inconvenience and cattle herding that have become integral parts of either side of the journey.

Indeed, if you fly anything less than three to four hours distance more time is spent on getting to the airport, checking in, etc, etc, than actually travelling via the service you've paid for.

On short haul journeys it's the train for me.


 12:14 pm on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

On a London to Aberdeen trip about 15 months ago:
Flight - travel in to London then out again or direct cab. Check in times made the morning flights inaccessible by public transport. Restrictions on what I could pack.
Car - with nobody to take turns at the wheel an overnight stop would be necessary.
Train - Sleeper expensive but excellent service. Free coffee and wifi in first class lounge while waiting. Good light supper on board. Skipped the rather skimpy plastic breakfast as I had booked one at my hotel but free paper (Scotsman)and tea. Return bargain first day service. Good restaurant meal, practically unlimited free coffee and biscuits, free wifi, power point. Comfortable seat and table for laptop. Still quicker than driving and cost about the same.


 6:04 pm on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

If they did not put all these security measures in place and a plane full of passengers was taken down. Then what would you all say?

Its a necessary evil IMO. As much as I dislike the hassle I understand it.

Unfortunately, traveling by train in North America is rarely the better option. Europeans have it so easy with all these high speed trains. I am really quite envious of that.


 7:23 pm on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, traveling by train in North America is rarely the better option...

Depends where in North America. Eugene to Seattle and all points in between, take the train (Leave Eugene at 5:30 A and arrive in Seattle by noon). Same for the NE. Shucks, on the Acela Express you can leave Boston at 6 AM and be in Washington DC before 1 PM.

Train stations are "downtown" making the need for connecting travel unnecessary in most cases. The Seattle station is a two block walk from free public transportation serving the entire downtown area. (This is a trip I make several times a year. Round trip is a bit over US$60 - about 1/5 airfare.)

I take the train whenever it is reasonable.


 8:44 pm on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

In the US this discussion is usually about driving the Interstate highways or flying. Flying is getting to be more and more problematic.

I have to drive about 10 hours on the interstate every 6 to 8 weeks, one way. I'm there for about three to four days. If I flew, it would take about 90 minutes to fly, but the travel to the airports would take another two hours on each end, so that is 5.5 hours vs 10 hours. Then, as noted above, is the time spent at the airport. Add 90 minutes, which is being kind. So, that is 7 vs 10 hours.

Add in the risk of canceled flights, delays due to weather or whatever AND (this is major) you can leave when you want, it's seemingly an easy decision. Drive.

But, it is an awful drive. Boring beyond belief. So, every now and then I fly.


 9:13 pm on Mar 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

But, it is an awful drive. Boring beyond belief. So, every now and then I fly.

I was considering driving, it's roughly a 9 hour drive for me. However on the train I can nap. When I nap when I drive my wife gets angry with me.

Looking forward to it. I haven't taken the train since my school days.


 10:21 pm on Mar 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just did some more research. The train takes me to a station that connects to the subway, which then takes me within a block of the hotel. At rush hour, the train to hotel is a 7 minute option. from the airport to the hotel, it's an hour and a half if I recall, and about $50. That clinches it - air won't save me much in time and costs me a huge amount in convenience and frustration.

I've asked my local indie bookstore to order in 4-5 novels for me for the trip! Now instead of expecting a long day of travel, I'm looking forward to a break.


 10:43 pm on Mar 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

In other days (when I was still married) travel option by auto with wife doing shift driving over 3000 miles (1500 each way) that was written off as business expense...and still had cuddly in the hotel room upon arrival, plus vehicle wear and tear to write off etc. Came out cheaper by several factors opposed to me going single by air cab and hotel. Side benefit: she thought it was vacation. :)

Travel, these days, gets complicated.


 10:37 am on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I hate the fact that we have to wait at the security and stuff.

One day I woke up early in the moring to fly from Budapest to Seoul (where I am right now) and I was excited about it. I went through the check in and security mesures which took me more than two hours because of croudness. I waited patiently and waited and waited. I finally got in the lobby in time and I was ready to take the flight to Amsterdam and then with a connecting flight to Seoul. I got on the airplane and everything was fine. The airplane left the building and then we were at the taking off field when the pilot called in and said that due to Security mesures we have to turn back. It took us about 5 ours delay because we had to go back and rechek-in. Apparently someone went through the security without cheking her. Not sure how it happened but thats what they told and because of her because of one person they called back 6-7 airplanes and made them to go through securty again which meants hundreds of people. It took me ages and then on top of that because of her I missed my connecting flight so I had to take an other flight which was 5 hours later. This whole thing was obsurb. I was pissed at everyone with that much waiting and then after that beizjhmng on a 10-12 hour flight.

I have been on train at most about 6-7 hours (from Hungary (- Budapest) to Austria (- Sharding) and I enjoyed it. I had my own little cabin which was quiet and very comforting. I had my electricity plug for my laptop. I did not have internet on the train but I had my phone with me which allows me to use it thruoght the mobile company. 6-7 hours on a tarin passes so fast you barely notice it especially because you are free. You can walk you can sit you can stretch or just look at the beautiful neverending view not like on the airplane where all you see is clouds.

I love flying -- The actual part when I am in the air and the plane is moving -- but do to the fact that it atkes ages I really doubt I will take a flight to short distances!


 3:36 pm on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have commuted to NYC metro jobs off and on for almost 35 years. I always try to take the train vs driving. I arrive rested, can sleep if I need to catch up as well.

A side benefit is a few have already said is being able to read. I'm one to always have a book or thick printout tech paper in my bag.


 10:31 pm on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

Barnamedve, welcome. Great post!


 2:02 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)


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