Thursday, July 03, 2008

I May Have to Reconsider this Amtrak Thing

They give me no blogging material. Boston to New Haven last night. Train left on time, arrived on time. Comfortable. Clean. Even largely full.

OK, so the first half hour served as a cautionary tale for cell phones on airplanes. Is there really anyone who thinks this is a good idea?? The person in front of me was obviously from Podunk, Iowa. They went on and on and on about how big the buildings in New York and Boston were and could you imagine, the roads don't always have lane dividers painted on them, etc., etc. I fell asleep in self-defense. (Note: on trains, always set some kind of alarm. Unlike planes, they don't automatically kick you off at your stop.) But even here, Amtrak has an answer: the quiet car. No cell phone usage.

One downside: Amtrak's awards program is really feeble. At 5,000 miles/transcon roundtrip, I can earn a free ticket on the airlines every five trips (assuming, optimistically, you can find a flight at the saver award level). By contrast, I figure it will take me thirty round trips (at $100/round trip) to earn a free ticket on Amtrak. I guess I'll have to think about the Amtrak MasterCard which, if I use the card merely for Amtrak purchases, would reduce that threshhold to 10 round trips.

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