travel by train, complaining about air travel
Belle Chatter

US Editor Roundup: Planes, Trains, and Travel Secrets

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amtrak

Take a plane or a train? Or is the grass always greener?

Every time you’re undergoing a full body scan, waiting in a long line with the miserable masses, or about to see the last leg of your flight cancelled, the appeal of train travel is undeniable.  Personally, I love train travel.

Train travel and Amtrak seem to be in the news everywhere in the past year or so. In the last week I’ve followed three very different train travel stories on the topic.

The romance touted in Train Travel Appeals to All Types, seemed lightweight and a bit of stretch in yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel, at least as far as the headline. Also I find it ironic that the first sentence is “Amtrak 91 is late.”

While I agree that train travel can be wonderful, I like to remember that air travel is downright miraculous. Yes, I hate the hassles,but that said I think we have a tendency to romanticize the heck out of rail travel partially because the logistics of air travel have gotten so absolutely deplorable. Oh, and also? Most of us haven’t done train travel, and when it comes down to getting from one place to another, don’t plan to.

Or maybe I’m not letting them off easily, because of the following local news story that gives a perspective on train travel that isn’t quite so romantic. Apparently, like anything else, when train travel goes well it’s great; when it doesn’t, not so much.

Last week here in South Carolina, Amtrak’s popular Silver Meteor that runs from New York to Miami was broken down in Dillon County, SC leaving 150 passengers stranded between stops for over 9 hours, without power, and not allowed to get off the train.  Read some of the comments to get a feel for how these passengers feel about rail travel after their experience.

The story came and went very quickly, so much so that I even had a hard time finding a link to the story I’d originally seen. This made me wonder if these kind of incidents are indeed a rarity or happen fairly often.

About the same time of the above incident, Twitter exploded with the last Amtrak train story I’ve been following. Amtrak’s writer residencies came about because of a single tweet from a writer hypothesizing on how cool it would be if Amtrak would offer writer’s residencies. Although still not an official program, the company is gearing up to offer more information about how to apply any minute now.

Who knows?– maybe I’ll even apply. I think the idea of spending a few days on a train to write is an intriguing idea. I always get a lot of writing done on both trains and planes. But that said, I hope Amtrak is prepared to deal with what may happen in social media when things go less than perfectly. Like someone once said, “never confuse visibility with exposure.”

When if comes to airlines, what do “loyalty,” “lifetime,” and “free” really mean?

A lifetime of loyalty, erased in a second, Elliot.org, March 3, 2014

Consumer advocate and journalist Christopher Elliott, takes on a case that reveals the real meaning of “loyalty” in what is sometimes the slippery business of frequent flyer miles. Let it serve as a warning to anyone who is an infrequent flier who is stashing away miles for “someday.”

I agree that just because something is outlined in the small print, doesn’t give a company the right to bastardize certain words like “loyalty” and “lifetime.”

He says:

I’m not a big fan of any government telling me what to do, but laissez-faire regulation shouldn’t be interpreted as a license to rewrite the dictionary.

Amen to that! There’s no doubt in my mind that practices like these often lead to permanent distrust and insurmountable challenges for ethical marketing departments.

Buzz Feed’s “Travel Secrets You Need to Know”

BuzzFeed. Love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny their ability to sum up supposedly “everything you need or want to know” briefly and behind an irresistible or catchy headline. And I’ll give them credit for most often having their content live up to the promise made in their headlines.

Here they take on “travel secrets” and put them in an oh-so-digestible 1 1/2 minute video. It’s short. It’s visually appealing. And you will probably learn something.

Hope your week is off to a great start! Where are you planning to travel in coming months? Are you traveling by plane or train? Both?

Image from Wikipedia.

About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at www.MargoMillure.com.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Krista Bjorn

    I really enjoy train travel, even the wonky bits as long as I don’t have a serious deadline. There is an amazing Australian train service that I’m dying to try, the Great Southern Rail, which has trains called The Ghan, Indian Pacific, The Overland and The Southern Spirit. It is my dream to travel on them and write about the experience. 🙂

  2. Katy Stewart

    When I think of train journeys, I conjure up images of chugging through a romantic stretch of countryside. If they run on time and are not too crowded, I do love the journey, but all too often (at least in the UK) they are late and so packed you feel like cattle. I still get excited about going on planes – take off is one of my favourite journey moments. I guess it all depends where you are and what you’re doing.

    Thought-provoking round-up Margo! 🙂

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