After hundreds of flights and dozens of train trips, I must say that there are certainly instances where train travel is better than flying. While this article originally listed eight reasons why travel by train beats flying, there are at least double that now.
8 Great Reasons Train Travel Beats Flying
Train passengers can have reasonably sized carryon bags and there are no baggage fees (for first 2 pieces). There is plenty of storage space onboard, too.
No Security Lines
Those insane TSA airport lines do not exist at train stations. Train passengers do not have to take off shoes and belts, empty pockets, remove computers from bags, be scanned or patted down, and so on. Just walk through the boarding area and find a seat. Easy, peasy. Train stations DO have security measures, mostly trained dogs, but they are just much more efficient and reasonable.
Because there are usually two entry points on each train car, the boarding process is quick and efficient. Passengers can show up 5 minutes before departure and go right on the train. When the train stops, passengers can be in the station within a minute or two.
No unexpected turbulence
Planes often encounter mysterious winds in the skies causing the plane to erratically move, sometimes violently. Train passengers do not have to keep seat belts fastened. In fact, there are no seat belts. Passengers can walk around during departure and arrival, and any time during the trip.
Each of my four train rides had electrical outlets for each seat and free working wifi. Also, on trains there is no restriction on electronics use; devices do not have to be put away during departure and arrival.
Most trains have at least one quiet car. Brilliant. Bose noise canceling headphones are not needed.
Each of my train rides had more than enough room to cross my legs and stretch my arms. Sorry, that just does not happen on most airplanes. Train seats can be reclined as soon as you board, if you wish, instead of waiting for the airplane bing noise of reaching 10,000 feet. No fighting over tray tables being up or down or sharing the arm rest, as trains have large ones.
Trains are obviously not faster than airplanes. In many instances, however, especially in the Northeast USA corridor (DC, Philadelphia, and New York City), train travel is more efficient than plane travel. Since train stations are in the middle of the city, passengers can take a quick walk to their destination, rather than a long cab ride from the airport.
Ever had your water bottle or other liquid squirt on you mid-flight? Have you ever unpacked after a flight and your shampoo, suntan lotion, etc., exploded? Well, that is due to the compressed pressure of the airplanes. That does not happen on train rides. Winner!
I have been on many flights with long restroom waits but cannot remember seeing more than one person waiting for the restroom on a train. Train restrooms are usually more spacious and cleaner.
This is totally subjective. I have encountered incredibly nice airline staff and extremely surly train employees. In general, though, I believe that train staff are friendlier than airline staff.
Food and Drink
Train dining cars have great food and drink options. Go get your beer and sandwich before the train starts moving. On planes, you are at the mercy of the staff and have to wait until they are ready to distribute food.
There is often no fee to change your train ticket to another time or even destination; sometimes there is a slight difference in fare and you pay the difference. Try that with your plane ticket.
Even better, train tickets (at least this is true for Amtrak) are fully refundable if cancelled 24 hours in advance. Know of an airline with similar policy?
Indeed there can be spectacular views from airplanes but it is really cool speeding by landscapes at ground level.
Classic train stations are more fun than most airports. For one thing, you can easily step outside if the weather is nice. Same at airports? No (well not without re-entering the security gauntlet). Food choices vary at train stations. I bought some great cajun food at the Philadelphia station. DC’s Union Station lower level food court has an amazing selection, including Caribbean and Indian options.