1. Check-in takes 5 minutes. Except for if it’s a small station than it may only take 2. And check the Amtrak app – if your train is running late it gives you a few more minutes to sleep or visit your family.
Disclaimer: If your train is leaving out of L.A., Chicago, or New York you probably want to give yourself more time. But you probably knew that already.
2. Two pieces of carry-on baggage. Free. And Amtrak’s definition of a carry-on bag is a 50-lb suitcase. Also, unlimited personal items.
3. Arrival takes 5 minutes. Ok, if 2 50-lb suitcases in addition to myriad personal items wasn’t enough and you had to check a couple additional bags, then it might take 10 minutes to get your bag.
4. Stations are usually located in easily accessible areas with plenty of parking. Yes, you may have to weave your way around some transient individuals…but no hurriedly hugging your auntie goodbye while the airport security guard mean mugs you and decides you have crossed the ephemeral line into “parking.”
5. Vistas of America. While I do love me an aerial view of the cities twinkling lights, nothing beats sweeping views of the good ‘ol U S of A. Mountains, lakes, pastures, coasts, and trailer parks – the train catches ’em all. And definitely more of the former than the latter. Reminds me that there is still plenty of wide open green space in our beautiful country.
6. Decent food. Seriously! While I might not spring for it in coach, meals are included with the sleeper car accommodations. So obviously I had to order the most expensive thing on the menu with all of its accoutrements. Steak is still delicious! 🙂
7. You can walk around during take-off and departure.. That’s right folks. No feeling strapped down. And no seatbelts to speak of.
8. Free coffee and water. Again, this is only for sleeper car passengers. But it was right there! Free, hot (or cold), and plentiful.
9. Conversation abounds. Train people like to chat. There is no lack of chitt-chattery on the train. Granted, the mean age of the passengers was 60, but there was something seriously pleasant about being around a bunch of folks who had worked hard on the art of conversation.
10. Privacy abounds. If you happen to be one who enjoys his/her peace and quiet, the beauty of your sleeper room allows for tranquil reading/napping/vista-watching.
11. Naps.. That’s right, not only do you have enough room to nap, they also give you a pillow and a blanket! Like real blankets that cover your feet! Naps are no longer an elusive, neck-kinking dream!
12. It supports local business. Ok, so I’m not sure this is actually true. But I feel like riding the train is like giving your dollar to the little guy, the mom-and-pop. Not the money-grabbing, every-little-thing-upcharging, how-far-can-we-push-passengers airlines. Trains feel like someone out there wants you to enjoy the trip. Like the corporate office doesn’t want to mess with the good things about travel that have lasted so long. I may be waxing a little nostalgic as I am about to get called to the Parlour Car for my last meal on the Coast Starlight. But this is one gal who wants to see the trains keep rolling on.