Monday, December 22, 2008


I booked my flight out on December 24 on November 8, almost two months in advance. I could not assign seats then because it was already overbooked. It's still overbooked.

So now I'm having to turn into a friggin' airline lawyer. Here's the deal. Their contract of carriage holds. Specifically, Rule 25. Now, I'm not particularly in a hurry, as long as I get there sometime between now and December 31. So first thing, they ask for volunteers. If they're going to give me a voucher for future air travel, nope, no volunteering for me, thank you very much. I want cold, hard cash and a seat on a later flight. Preferably a first class seat, thank you very much. Otherwise I wait until involuntary bumping, and request they put me on the next flight to my destination, whether it is Continental, American, or Delta. Or at least, that's what I *think* this Rule 25 is telling me.

Sigh. Airlines. Now you know why it's been three years since I was in a jet plane...

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin
Hopefully not still flightless on the 24th, sigh!


  1. best o'luck tux. i've decided on amtrack to head to netroots in august.

    i figured out that i can buy a 30 day pass for less than the price of a round trip ticket from palm springs to pittsburgh.

    it's going to be a rolling party. picking up like minded souls in denver, st. louis, and chicago.

  2. I imagine flying must be exciting for you nowdays, what with setting off the airport metal detectors and all, so I don't blame you for taking the train. Just one word of advice -- AMTRAK doesn't own its tracks and gets second priority over freights (who *do* own the tracks, and the owner always gets to say what goes), so expect to be at least 6 hours late, or maybe as much as 24 hours late. That's just how it is. When my brother came in from New Orleans to LA, he was supposed to arrive at 8AM, he finally got in at 4PM. Definitely not the way to travel if you're in a hurry.

    I wasn't aware AMTRAK still did the 30 day pass thing. Oh yeah, also carry a spare meal or two with you. That 8AM train that turned into a 4PM train? They didn't get breakfast *or* lunch, because they were supposed to already be in LA and so they didn't load the meals on at their previous resupply. Huh.

    In short, AMTRAK is what you get when you try to do passenger rail service on the cheap with a provider who doesn't own their own tracks. If you want to see some real rail service, look at CALTRAIN between San Jose and San Francisco. They own their own tracks, and are always on time, and their Baby Bullet trains are *fast*, making it from downtown San Jose to downtown San Francisco in one hour. I can't do that in a *car*. Unlike AMTRAK, where an asthmatic Yugo could outrun the train...

    - Badtux the Mobile Penguin

  3. AmTrack may not be perfect.. but, it is seldom overbooked, and, as my brother has found to his great pleasure (he takes a train one way between FL & MA to accompany our dad twix his summer/winter homes) there are no TSA goons to threaten you. He said (about the first trip) that he enjoyed the slow, easy trip with friendly poeple & excepting when he purchased his ticket with plastic, was never asked for his ID.

    YMMV, but I'll likely never fly again.

  4. I decided to be nice to Amtrak and take it from where I was living in Florida up to Washington, D.C. for my sister's funeral in January, 1997. I could have afforded to fly, but I wanted to support the rail network. It was a long and awful delay-filled experience. Just what you'd expect from trains in a country whose leadership is trying hard to kill off trains, buses and anything else that's not a car or an airplane.

    OTOH, we enjoy the trains in Europe. I can't say we take them as often as we do planes from country to country there, and we generally rent a car to drive around the countryside because we're Americans, dammit, and that's what we DO! But the times we've train-tripped from place to place, it's been great. Slower than airplanes but less aggravating.

    Ditto here. I use use the Melbourne suburban rail service when I'm not taking the tram, and it's as zippy as CalTrans must be. My daughter's down here visiting, and I've made a point of dragging her on it just to show her how a civilised country's train service should be. It's not perfect -- rush-hour trains are overcrowded, and they have a habit of just cancelling runs for odd reasons -- but it beats anything outside the New York metro area.

    If a pretend country like Australia can make the trains run on time (mostly) there's no reason the U.S. can't. Except TPTB don't want to.

    Good luck with Amtrak, MB. I predict they will make you regret using them. Please drop a comment someday telling us how it went.

  5. Greyhound is faster than AMTRAK, as well as considerably cheaper. That's just sad. But that's how TPTB want it.

    Passenger rail, to be efficient, has to have priority over freight. That's just how it is. If you have it the other way around, like with AMTRAK, you end up with, well, AMTRAK.

    Caltrain owns their own lines. They allow UP freight to run on their lines only at night when Caltrain isn't running. I don't drive to San Francisco when I want to go do tourist sh*t there. I take Caltrain. But Caltrain is run by the local counties, not by the Federal government, and local county governments have an incentive to make sure it works. The Feds have no such incentive. Nobody is going to get voted out of office because of AMTRAK, after all...

    - Badtux the Transportation Penguin


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.