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In another great "duh, why wasn't this done years ago" movie, travel search site Hipmunk.com is now displaying Amtrak train results alongside airline flights when you search. It's official too; Amtrak is literally and figuratively onboard with the whole thing, and heaven knows any extra oomph thrown on their side to help fight for passengers with the airlines is bonus.
So here's what's up: search for flights like usual on Hipmunk. If there are Amtrak options between them, then the Amtrak trains will appear in the results, very much like regular flights do now.
Train Travel / Portland Travel / Amtrak / PDX / Train Stations / Oregon Travel / Train Stations That Still Got It / → All Tags
In yet another argument for improving the rail network of the USA, we turn to the impressive Union Station in the Chinatown section of Portland, Oregon. Even if you aren't arriving by the Amtrak Cascades, Coast Starlight or Empire Builder trains and you flew in to this here town, the station is worth a visit for its historical and architectural significance (not to mention that sweet Romanesque clock tower).
As you can see in the above image, the stations is undergoing something of a refurbishment. Sadly, this won't be to add more train servicesoh how we'd love to see some hi-speed trains making stops herebut to add housing in places where railroad track used to be.
We love Tuesdays. Why, you ask? Because the day brings many travel tips and quips as "Travel Tuesday" on Twitter, and we're going to share our favorite with you. Got an avid travel twitterer we should follow? Let us know.
Thank You, @PeterShankman for giving weight to one of our favorite arguments: always join the loyalty program for whatever airline/train line/boat line/restaurant chain/grocery store/smoothie shop on which you're spending your hard-earned money. Specifically we advocate signing up for travel-related frequent guest programs (United Mileage Plus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles, and JetBlue TrueBlue to name just a few of the airline offerings), but a free smoothies after buying ten is pretty great as well.
Chicago Travel / ORD / Airport News / Amtrak / Train Travel / Airports / → All Tags
Everybody's talking about Chicago-O'Hare Airport this week and, for once, the jibber-jabber isn't all negative. Sure, most of their flights both yesterday and today were cancelled due to winter weather, but the news that they'll be seeing more airline options with the coming addition of Virgin America routes is good stuff. What's possibly just as nice as the talk that O'Hare could get more rail connections in the future, if a proposed plan meets with approval.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois' governor is talking to Amtrak regarding the possibility of providing "fast, nonstop passenger rail service between Chicago Union Station and O'Hare." This could mean far easier connections to the airport for those coming up from towns and cities deeper in the state.
Train Travel / Amtrak / WiFi / Free WiFi / On-Track WiFi / Travel Deals / → All Tags
We may talk about airplanes quite a bit here on Jaunted, but trust that our love is strong for trains, too. It just sucks that we can't be as proud of Amtrak as Europe and Japan can be of their awesome train systems, but at least Amtrak is making headway in the on-board connectivity departments. In addition to the Acela trains and select stations having WiFi, the west coast Cascades train now has free WiFi.
The Cascades, which travels between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, has thus far relied on its awesome scenery to do the majority of the entertaining for its passengers. But now, thankfully, people can get a little work done while enjoying the ride, as the WiFi network will allow passengers to log into VPN networks as well. Of course, just as with in-flight wifi, don't put all your hopes on hooking into on-track WiFi as a signal isn't guaranteed.
Train Travel / Amtrak / Green Travel / California Travel / Music Travel / Jaunted Interviews / → All Tags
Yesterday we told you about the mistakes we made in taking the train from LA to San Diego. Today, itís time for something a little lighter. Specifically, the guy in the buffet car who made all our days happier.
We were pulling out of LA all stressed and hassled from our Union Station experience when first the conductor came on the intercom to tell us about the journey ahead, and then handed over to the buffet rep to tell us what was going on in food land.
Nobody seemed to be taking any notice (even though he seemed very happy), because we guess few people on that route are going to be up for hot dogs or M&Ms, but then the whole carriage pricked up its ears when he launched into song about the joys of riding the rails. Hereís where we caught the tail end on camera:
The view near Oceanside
Our semi-regular correspondent Julia Buckley, a Londoner who decamped to the US west coast, is learning some very valuable lessons about how we travel in America. Here, she shares her thoughts on a recent Amtrak trip through sunny CA.
Being from Europe where high speed trains are (thankfully) becoming the norm and you can hop in a carriage in one country and, two hours later, be in a different one without any airport nastiness, I'm a big fan of train travel. So when I had to make a one-way journey from LA to San Diego last month, training it down the Cali coastline seemed ideal. Iíve driven that route plenty of times and always been envious of the fact that the train tracks seemed to be bang on the beach. Plus, itís easier to take photos while youíre lounging on the top deck of the train, rather than driving like a maniac down the 5. So I decided to lose my Amtrak virginity.
My one-way ticket cost $31 (including taxes)much cheaper than flying. At 2hr50min, I decided it wouldnít actually take much longer than flying, either, once you add in check in time, getting to the airport and so on. It seemed like a no-brainer. I was very excited. And then began the catalogue of mistakes.
Snowpocalypse 2010 / Travel Tips / Delays / Winter Travel / Weather / New York City / Snow Travel / Bus Travel / Train Travel / Amtrak / Greyhound / Megabus / Boltbus / → All Tags
If you've got any hope of traveling into or out of the Northeast today or tomorrow...or really on into the New Year, jot down your airline/bus/train information and stay closely tuned to their updates through these channels:
· American Airlines: a website and Twitter
· Continental: a website and Twitter
· Delta: a website and Twitter
· JetBlue: a website and Twitter
· Southwest: a website and Twitter.
· United: a website and Twitter
· US Airways: a website and Twitter
Travel Tips / Train Travel / Amtrak / Surfing / Sports Travel / Luggage / Baggage / → All Tags
Since airlines are constantly jacking up their baggage and oversized baggage policies, if you are traveling with oversized baggage it is in your best interest to check out your shipping options. Recently we looked into shipping our surfboard from the Southeast to the Northeast so we could do a little New England surfing next month.
Taking oversized baggage on a domestic flight will usually run you around $100 each way, and that doesn't count the awkward hours lugging your giant items to and fro the airport, which when coupled with a flight is sure to cause irritability even in the most zen traveler.
What are your options? UPS quoted us $500, counting packaging materialsyikes. Amtrak, however, charged a reasonable $50 to transport the board to South Station in Boston. Amtrak also offers insurance, with $1.00 equals $100 worth of insurance.
So about America's lagging train travel network and service? Yea, Amtrak has a plan. In Philly yesterday, Amtrak unveiled their 40-year plan for increased routes and high-speed trains, called "A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor." The gist of it is that, if the country can spend $117 billion to get this plan completed, then in 2040, we'll have faster trains and new tracks to enable passengers to travel between NYC and DC in 96 minutes and NYC and Boston in 84 minutes.
Those same routes, operated now on the relatively higher speed Acela trains, take 167 minutes and 230 minutes, respectively. The question now isn't whether or not the country needs this, but whether or not train travel in the US can afford/survive the billions in spending and the 30 more years of waiting before anything like this even comes close to being rideable.
Train Travel / Travel Ads / Acela / Amtrak / → All Tags
Raise your hand if you tuned into NBC last night for the season premiere episodes of Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Outsourced and The Apprentice. If your hand is raised, it's possible that you caught a special travel commercial too, one that certainly made us sit upright and pay attention. The ad began peacefully, showing a train weave through a landscape, but then a voiceover came on to list off many of our current gripes with air travel, and we nodded along:
Why is travel these days about what you give up, and not what you get? Like electricity for gadget power at your seat. Room to stretch your legs and your wingspan. Food when you're hungry. And taking off your shoes only if you feel like it. These aren't luxuries; they're basics. Get them back on Acela.
Once again Amtrak is giving New Yorkers a reason to leave the car in the garage and hop on a train instead. They have teamed up with I Love NY and are offering passengers 20% off their train fare in New York State. The savings can be applied to any trip on the following routes: Adirondack (NYC to Montreal), Empire Service (NYC to Niagara Falls), Ethan Allen Express (Albany to NYC), Lake Shore Limited (NYC to Albany to Buffalo) or the Maple Leaf (NYC to Toronto).
The deal is valid for coach seating and reservations must be made at least three days in advance. The promotion ends May 28, 2011. To book, just use this reservation form and your discount will be applied automatically.