On Friday I had to be in Buffalo for a conference. Because I couldn’t miss work on Thursday, I took an early morning Friday flight: 6am from JFK, landing in Buffalo at 7:18am. But on Saturday I didn’t have to be back at a certain time, so I booked the Amtrak Empire service, leaving Buffalo at 7:34am and getting back to NYC at 3:45pm. Sounds awful, right? Here’s why it wasn’t, and why the train part of this trip was better than the plane part:
Free wireless on the train
The ability to get up and move around whenever I felt like it
The empty seat next to me
The electrical outlet next to me, below the large, clear windows
The wide, comfy seatbelt-less seats
I only had to get to the station 5 minutes before the train left
I didn’t have to wait in a check-in line, get out my ID, wait in a security line, take off my shoes, or get patted down
I was deposited by the train in the middle of the city, not way out in Queens or Newark
I was able to look out the window, and learn about the changing landscape between the cities
If a baby started screaming, I could get up and change seats
When we were paused in Oneida, the lady in front of me pointed out a river snake and a muskrat in the pond we were next to.
I could go on, but I’m about to do some work, watch a crappy movie, and then stretch out and take a nice nap.
Now, obviously, planes are awesome, and necessary. Can’t get to Cairo from here on a train (yet). Trains have less flexibility, and if it’s a long trip the time it takes starts to become an issue, blah blah blah. Nevertheless, for short trips I’ll stick with trains, not the “commuter flights.” Give me a slightly longer (although not much, when you factor in all the airport nonsense), comfortable train trip upstate any day.