Amtrak vs. Southwest Airlines

Railroadforums.com is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.

muralist0221

Active Member
Thought I'd relate the new services offered by Southwest Airlines. Booked an on-line flight from Kansas City to Miami, cost $65.00 round trip. Opted for the new VIP program which added $5 to the total. You can print out a green barcode and stick it in your car's front window. You merely pull up to the curbside check-in. A Southwest employee pulls your bags, drives your car to long term parking while you head into the terminal. The airline picks up the parking charges at KCI up to 30 days. One of the hassles of flying is the TSA pat-down. Not if you are a Southwest VIP! Your background is checked beforehand. That coupled with an honest face allows you to bypass the long TSA lines. You are permitted a preboard while others stand on lines A, B & C. While waiting for the non VIPs to board, the stewardess breaks open a bottle of Chateau Frontenac 1947 vintage to break the tedium. The plane was one of the newer 737-666 which features more legroom and greater space between seats. There is an Amtrak style thigh rest which can be pulled out. The stewardess explains that there are only 12 passengers on this flight and the stewardess to passenger ratio will two to one. She graciously pointed out the red button which activated a combination ultra-sound mechanical vibrator massager. Great for someone like me who occasionally suffers from lower back pain.

Once underway, we were provided with the Southwest signiture appetizer, liver patee. The main course was lobster fra diabolo surrounded by a few crab legs. I always have trouble extracting the crab meat from the shell. Tamara, my stewardess pulled out a pair of wirecutters to assist. After the meal, it was movie time. Each 737-666 plane has a video center on each preceeding seat. The recommended movie was "Avatar" in 3-D. The woman across from me, thought that movie was too intense and opted for the Orson Wells classic "Citizen Kane".

But all good things must come to an end. Seems that there was a strong tail wind that day. The usual 2 1/2 hour flight flight was shortened by half an hour. Tamara inquired about my hotel in Miami. The VIP program provides that my luggage would be delivered to my Marriot room before my arrival. Sure beats the 45 minute wait by the luggage carrousel in Miami.

While at the hotel in Miami, there came a knock at the door. I was surprised to see Tamera, my personal stewardess who did a follow up survey. How could we make the Southwest experience better? The only negative was the tail wind. I suggested the pilot use the reverse thrust feature to slow the plane down, so they don't have to speed up the movie.

Sorry Amtrak, you just can't compete with that kind of service.
 

Beverlyhelper

beverlyhelper
Southwest Airlines

Thought I'd relate the new services offered by Southwest Airlines. Booked an on-line flight from Kansas City to Miami, cost $65.00 round trip. Opted for the new VIP program which added $5 to the total. You can print out a green barcode and stick it in your car's front window. You merely pull up to the curbside check-in. A Southwest employee pulls your bags, drives your car to long term parking while you head into the terminal. The airline picks up the parking charges at KCI up to 30 days. One of the hassles of flying is the TSA pat-down. Not if you are a Southwest VIP! Your background is checked beforehand. That coupled with an honest face allows you to bypass the long TSA lines. You are permitted a preboard while others stand on lines A, B & C. While waiting for the non VIPs to board, the stewardess breaks open a bottle of Chateau Frontenac 1947 vintage to break the tedium. The plane was one of the newer 737-666 which features more legroom and greater space between seats. There is an Amtrak style thigh rest which can be pulled out. The stewardess explains that there are only 12 passengers on this flight and the stewardess to passenger ratio will two to one. She graciously pointed out the red button which activated a combination ultra-sound mechanical vibrator massager. Great for someone like me who occasionally suffers from lower back pain.

Once underway, we were provided with the Southwest signiture appetizer, liver patee. The main course was lobster fra diabolo surrounded by a few crab legs. I always have trouble extracting the crab meat from the shell. Tamara, my stewardess pulled out a pair of wirecutters to assist. After the meal, it was movie time. Each 737-666 plane has a video center on each preceeding seat. The recommended movie was "Avatar" in 3-D. The woman across from me, thought that movie was too intense and opted for the Orson Wells classic "Citizen Kane".

But all good things must come to an end. Seems that there was a strong tail wind that day. The usual 2 1/2 hour flight flight was shortened by half an hour. Tamara inquired about my hotel in Miami. The VIP program provides that my luggage would be delivered to my Marriot room before my arrival. Sure beats the 45 minute wait by the luggage carrousel in Miami.

While at the hotel in Miami, there came a knock at the door. I was surprised to see Tamera, my personal stewardess who did a follow up survey. How could we make the Southwest experience better? The only negative was the tail wind. I suggested the pilot use the reverse thrust feature to slow the plane down, so they don't have to speed up the movie.

Sorry Amtrak, you just can't compete with that kind of service.
Just what are you smoking anyway? Can I get some? ;-)
 

GRRR

OH, C'MON REF!!!!
Okay..... Now I'm going to have to start wearing waders and rubber boots when I go online so I don't get the BS all over me.... :)
 

Pat

Photo Critiques Welcome
My boss told me we were attending a conference in Miami and to fly Southwest into Ft Lauderdale. The Get-Away fare was $189 each way. But for $482 each way I could travel Business Select. Fly-By priority security lanes, priority boarding and a premium drink. That sounded excellent to me. Let the ignorant people stand in the long security lines and get patted down by the TSA.

With my Business Select boarding pass I strode past the great unwashed to the Fly-By security line. I dropped my bag on the belt and started to walk away when one of the TSA bureaucrats started asking if I had a lap top. “Out of the bag and in a tray by itself.” What a dolt...I’m Business Select. I walked through the metal detector beep-beep-beep. They made me go back and take the change out of my pocket. Sheesh like change would hurt anything. Beep-beep-beep again. They pulled me aside and ran a wand up and down my pants. WoooOOOoooOOO it went. The goon patted me down and grabbed my cell phone through my pants demanding to know what it was. “Cell phone” I replied. He rolled his eyes and said if I followed the directions on the signs like the 20 people ahead of me they wouldn’t have to do a search secondary searches and the lines moved faster. Idiot. I demanded to speak with a supervisor and gave that him a piece of my mind. That schmuck hadn’t heard of Business Select either and proceeded to hand search my bag. Away from security I noticed several people from the ordinary line were walking down the concourse ahead of me. The ordinary security line moved rather quickly. Must be they don’t carry cell phones.

Once at the gate things were back on track. While everyone else lined up for the infamous Southwest “cattle call” to avoid getting a middle seat, we Business Select passengers boarded first. I chose an aisle seat to keep from setting next to the annoying plastic ribs next to the window seats. The airlines must profile large people and make them sit in the middle as often as possible. I had to lean on the aisle arm rest to give the guy next to me some extra room.

The common folk started boarding and every purse and back pack that came down the aisle seemed to smack me in the head. I was about to give one idiot an ear full when I realized it was my boss. A waitress came by and I asked about my premium drink. “Once we’re airborne sir” she smiled. They all smiled, told corny jokes and acted like Southwest was the greatest thing around. Is idiot gender specific?
We pushed back from the gate and started for the runway. The plane pulled off the taxiway and stopped. The pilot said there were thunder storms in Chicago and ATC had stopped all traffic for Chicago. More government idiots. We’re going to Florida. Who cares if it rains in Illinois. The pilot said something about saving fuel and shutoff the engines. More global warming B.S. It got hot on board as we sat and sat. Ninety minutes passed before we were on our way again.

Finally they came with my premium drink. A warm can of Heineken. The guy next to me pulled out a rather nice looking sandwich he’d brought along. I rang the flight attendant and asked about the lunch selections. She smiled and said there was only a beverage service but I could have extra peanuts or pretzels, My back started to hurt as I kept leaning to the aisle.

Finally we started to descend. We went so low over some houses I could have touched them and wham we were on the runway. The pilot jammed on the brakes hard. When we turned off the runway I saw it was really short. I thought Ft Lauderdale had a better airport and then I saw Chicago Midway on the terminal. Son of a…they put me on the wrong plane. The big guy chuckled and said we have to change planes in Chicago and make another stop in Nashville. The next two flights sucked too. Warm Heineken, no lunch and the same stupid jokes.

On the trip home the TSA goons were lined up ready to harass me. I put my lap top in its own tray, put my change and phone in a tray and even…sigh…took my shoes off like everyone else. I passed right through without a problem.

The week after our trip the boss called me in his office. Waving my expense report in the air he said his ticket cost less than $400 and mine was nearly $1000. I told him about priority boarding, more leg room and premium drinks. Before I could tell him about Fly-By security lanes he interrupted me saying everyone took off and landed at the same time. I’d wasted $600 on $20 of alcohol. If didn’t show better judgment I could check leg room in the unemployment lines. Idiot. He must have been a TSA agent before he became my boss.
 

muralist0221

Active Member
Back in the 60's some people were "cubed". If you didn't like somebody, a sugar cube was put in your drink to create pipe dreams and delusion. Do you suppose agents for Southwest slipped something in my $5.00 Bloody Mary so that I'd write the above blog?
 

GRRR

OH, C'MON REF!!!!
Back in the 60's some people were "cubed". If you didn't like somebody, a sugar cube was put in your drink to create pipe dreams and delusion. Do you suppose agents for Southwest slipped something in my $5.00 Bloody Mary so that I'd write the above blog?
Maybe so, but it wasn't just sugar in that cube.... ;):eek::D
 

RRKen

New Member
Back in the 60's some people were "cubed". If you didn't like somebody, a sugar cube was put in your drink to create pipe dreams and delusion. Do you suppose agents for Southwest slipped something in my $5.00 Bloody Mary so that I'd write the above blog?
No, but it might have to do with the water at home. Those of us familiar with aviation know, when you see a discount name, you get discount treatment. No ups, no extras.

And since on most legacy carriers, a checked bag may cost one $25 or more, there is no way you get Super Deluxe Platinum Club treatment for a mere $5.

The best treatment you can get on Amtrak these days is some swill wine (probably re-packaged Cisco Red) , and Cheez Whiz on stale crackers on the Pacific Parlour Car. So much for civilized travel!

If you want civilized travel, call NetJet and charter a Hawker 900. An average $2,300, but worth skipping the hassles and attitudes of commercial (and TSA) or the garbage Amtrak throws at you under the guise of premium travel (unless you actually like Cisco Red wine).
 

Canadian Pacific SD70Ace

This sentence is a lie.
I've been on the Canadian once and have to say that Via gets it done right! 2 problems: 1. have to stop for CN freights.
2. Not the true Canadian, this is the super continential but misleadingly remaned.
Other than that, it's an incredible experience that is reccomended.
 

wigwagfan

Passenger
That's a bit of a sarcastic view of Southwest, but my last flight on Southwest from Portland to Spokane by far beat Amtrak in every imaginable way.

On a recent memorable Amtrak trip, the Conductor gave me three bad seat assignments requiring me to walk from the door at Union Station to car 9 (of course!) at the far end of the platform, back to the station, back to the car, back to the station... Conductor was completely unsympathetic and in fact even made me wait while he assigned seats to other riders (never mind how much I had waited and now had to run back and forth).

Let's see...five hours on a train with snobby crew, or 35 minutes on a 737 (with a free Coke and peanuts). TSA in either Portland or Spokane is neglible in terms of time, maybe adds 10 minutes. Even when I count the extra 25 minutes it takes to get to PDX compared to Union Station...it's cheaper, faster, better schedule, better crew, better service...but if I ride in the Sleeper car I can get a cold dinner tray (which was prepared by an airline catering service!)
 

muralist0221

Active Member
I'll say one thing about Southwest, they are winning the peanut war. What else is there to do when crammed in the seat next to a 250 lb flip-flop girl with hoop earings. The foil bag is cut open by me and I counted 31 peanuts. On a Delta flight cut open the bag and counted 9. Also, food service on Amtrak is tolerable, but was better in 2000 when I rode the California Zephyr. Didn't anti Amtrak Congressmen micromanage the dining car? Didn't they put pressure on Amtrak to steamline the menu since it is subsidized?
 

Pat

Photo Critiques Welcome
All kidding aside, Amtrak could have first class food, wonderfully polite crews and, other than a few corridors, still not compete with speed of cramped airplanes serving peanuts and pretzels.
 

muralist0221

Active Member
The issue of service in today's world has been a source of amusement here, but a more serious problem still boils down to ENERGY. There has been some success in the oil import reduction and the development of the Bakkan fields, but face it, we shall still have $6.00- $8.00 per gallon gas within five years whether we import oil from our enemies or not. The emergence of China will impact this also. This will have a major effect on airlines and the service they offer will be quite different. We shall see the end of cheap airfares. Jets are more efficient when they fly long distances. You will pay $1000 to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles. There will be fewer passengers and possibly better service for the people who are able to afford this luxury. The "new age conservatives" wish to destroy passenger rail travel (Amtrak) and may go so far as to end subsidized service to smaller airports. Cities like Wichita, Lincoln, Cedar Rapids, etc. may lose their airports. The future of travel does not look good unless alternative energy wins the day..
 

muralist0221

Active Member
Relative to air service, let's talk about the old days. Speed! For many years I flew from Des Moines, Iowa to Chicago. If United got the West runway, the flying time was 30 minutes in the early and mid 70's. If they had to circle O'hare, maybe 45 minutes. When the first energy crisis hit, the planes were slowed down as a fuel economy measure. Today, the flying time is one hour or more. Des Moines to Kansas City was 20 minutes on a Braniff 727. Braniff went belly-up years ago. Today, you fly a Brazilian commuter jet which takes over an hour to fly 178 miles.
In the 70's before deregulation, if two airlines flew the same route, the tickets were interchangeable. Had a ticket on Ozark from Chicago to Des Moines. Their DC-9 had an oil leak and the passengers were on their own with no help from the airline. Ran to the United gateway, got on their jet and the day was saved. Try that today!

Ozark had a direct flight from Des Moines to Indianapolis; total flying time one hour and fifteen minutes. Then, they went to the hub system. Invariably, the Chicago to Indy leg would be a problem. Total time now is five to eight hours. It was faster to drive it, sometimes.

Food! I am told that European airlines subsidize food service and have the best flying cuisine. America's airline food has always been an embarrassment. One exception was the old Frontier. Actually had a good steak from Omaha to Phoenix. Plus they gave you a medium size bottle of Chianti on each leg. Ended up with eight bottles which I wrapped up and gave away as Christmas gifts. No wonder they went bankrupt, too much Chianti. Had some good breakfasts on United a few times.
But folks, "dem days are gone forever!"
 

Beverlyhelper

beverlyhelper
Amtrak vs. Airlines

I'll fly.

I gave Amtrak two chances. Total disasters each time.

April
Depends on the route. Portland ME to Boston you can't beat the Downeaster! Same between Seattle-Portland OR and Eugene, or many other short routes (like California service). Best time, good service. When you get into long distance travel, then it's a tradeoff between time and service. Consider a long distance trip as a vacation, and enjoy it for what it is (and don't lame it for what it isn't).
 

TCJim

Handler and Palm Reader
On a recent memorable Amtrak trip, the Conductor gave me three bad seat assignments requiring me to walk from the door at Union Station to car 9 (of course!) at the far end of the platform, back to the station, back to the car, back to the station... Conductor was completely unsympathetic and in fact even made me wait while he assigned seats to other riders (never mind how much I had waited and now had to run back and forth).
What is a bad seat assignment? Were the seats themselves broken? Just curious, in that aside from the seats on the bulkhead that don't turn, aren't they all just about the same?
 

muralist0221

Active Member
Disaster on Amtrak, quite possible. Tracks get flooded and you are switched to a bus (UGH!). Some trucker crashes into the side of the California Zephyr, not fun. However, in my travel experience, have had to spend 10 nights in a hotel because of closed airports or poor equipment utilization. Two of these nights were picked up by the respective airline. I was blessed to have money or credit cards and the hotels had rooms. Some were turned in for expenses. So it wasn't a disaster. The less prosperous among us have to spend one or more nights with little children in Denver International, La Guardia, etc. if bad weather hits. That is a disaster. Personally spent 12 hours at Fort Lauderdale airport when good ole Southwest pulled all their flights with lightning 40 miles away. The employees disappeared and all flights were removed from the board. It was as if Southwest didn't even fly there anymore. That was not a real disaster. My personal passenger rail experience (Amtrak and pre-Amtrak) involved late trains (3 hours or less) about ten times (out of hundreds of trips). Was fortunate not to miss connections. Does transportation stink in the U.S.? At times, I would say YES!
 

Texas.Pacifico

New Member
What is a bad seat assignment? Were the seats themselves broken? Just curious, in that aside from the seats on the bulkhead that don't turn, aren't they all just about the same?
I'm also interested in hearing more particulars about this trip.

I don't know if we got the entire story.

Sounds a little jaded as currently posted.
 




RailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

Top