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Long Live The Train! August 21, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in travel.

How many of you have seen this NYTimes article, or a similar one, over past 6 months? It contains paragraphs like this one:

In just a few short months, the airlines have discovered to their glee that their customers are willing to pay for most everything from checked bags to soft drinks to pillows and blankets — and are doing so without much fuss. With that knowledge in hand, the airlines aren’t about to stop.

Fees for checked baggage. Fees to let you reserve a seat — any seat. Fees. Fees. Fees. My favorite line was the following:

“You complain at Starbucks, you get a freebie,” she said, “If you throw a fit at an airport, you could be picked up by the T.S.A.”

So — don’t complain about those fees! 🙂 On our recent flight on Brussels Airlines from Marseille to Brussels (on the way to Prague) I looked into buying a Coke. It was 3.10 euros for one of those plastic bottles. That is $4.52!!! At the local 7-11 in Seattle those things go for about $1.50. And the best thing was there was a line at the bottom of the menu that said the prices in the airport were the same, so they weren’t raising the prices unfairly!!! Wow!

Ok — as things settle, they will remove the fees perhaps? Like a drug addict willingly leaves heroin behind:

Given that [analysts have said airlines will benefit from new fees and the currently dropping jet fuel price], Mr. Ridley says he believes that the airlines, which are grounding planes and cutting about 8 percent of their available seats this fall, will not rush to remove the charges, which he likens to “fee heroin.”

I have traveled only a little this year by plane. Spending most of it in Europe. The result is next year I won’t be a frequent flyer. And now that I have a kid I probably won’t fly nearly as much as I used to. Add to that the fact that science budgets are going down and airplane ticket prices are going up. So this means I’ll get to experience this mess first hand. I’m not looking forward to next year. Riding the train from Marseille to CERN has been so nice…



1. Alex - August 25, 2008

Hi Gordon,

A few weeks ago I took AMTRACK from Philadelphia (after ICHEP) to New York and then back South from New York to Washington DC. It was great and in total cost less than $150. Having previously poked fun at US trains in California, where they seem to travel at walking pace I eat my words. Now if more people would use this excellent service it could only get cheaper and better.

2. Gordon Watts - August 25, 2008

Was that the Accela service? I’ve heard great things about that. The Amtrack train from Seattle down the coast to Portland is as you describe. Never on time and always slow. Of course, I think having the experience you describe is key to people usign the trains. Amtrack has a pretty bad reputation, but some of the lines, like the high speed Accela are done “right”. Here in Europe they seem to try to make all the high speed trains work that way – the TGV. So they are just great. Smooth, quick, and rarely are there delays more than a few minutes.

3. Bookmarks about Nytimes - January 24, 2009

[…] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by englishinvader on 2008-12-31 Long Live The Train! https://gordonwatts.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/long-live-the-train/ – bookmarked by 4 members […]

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