train blog

Amtrak Palmetto by mod as hell
“Amtrak Palmetto” by mod as hell

Left Richmond on time. This is the first time I’ve traveled south on Amtrak, and apparently the system is a little different. For one, the conductor assigned me a seat in the coach car, rather than letting me choose like I usually do on the train to DC. Maybe it’s because the car was full? There also appeared to be designated seat groupings depending on whether you’re going to Savannah (final destination for this train) or Charleston (my destination). Everyone else was fit in where there was room, and one woman kept pacing up and down the aisle saying she didn’t know where to sit, so I guess not everyone was assigned a seat, either.

What is it about train stations being in the ugliest areas of town? The gorgeous view crossing over the James River followed by an amble through the wooded neighborhoods on the south side of the river was a nice balance to the ugly.

After munching on my packed lunch, I pulled out the laptop to work on some to-do items that didn’t get done before I had to leave for the train. Unfortunately, this is not an Amtrak train equipped with wifi (again, another thing different from the train to DC), so all the emails I composed will be delayed until I get to my hotel in Charleston tonight. Same with this blog post, actually.

The view seems to be better in smaller, less industrial towns. The area around the tracks in Emporia (VA), for example, is actually quite pleasant. Pretty sure I saw a deer in a field of corn stubble south of town, too. The tracks here are pleasantly not surrounded by trees on all sides, and we’re clearly in major farm land. Reminds me of Ohio. Except for the cotton fields! So pretty.

Stinky, gassy child across the aisle from me is pleased with her stinky gassiness. Wishing once again for the quiet car option. Or at least a 21+ car.

The late night watching the NPR election page and listening to their coverage hit me. Along with the rocking of the train. Was out cold for a good 30 minutes before I woke up when we pulled into the next stop.

Somewhere in the middle of North Carolina, thousands of beat up cars go to die in a junkyard near the train tracks.

Discovered that the snack car has wifi, and was relatively child and talker-free. Got an hour of online work done. Yay! Also, did some research on beer bars in Charleston. Pleased to see there are several near my hotel.

The train arrived 15 minutes early, and I was at my hotel at the time I originally projected I’d arrive at the station. Sweet! Time for a beer. And thus ends my train blog post.

northwest airlines is going down

Or, why I think Northwest Airlines is going to fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.

Or, why I think Northwest Airlines is going to fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.

My parents were told late last week that their original flight from Dayton (Ohio) to Seattle through Minneapolis was canceled and they were re-booked on a flight through Detroit instead. This flight was scheduled to leave earlier than the original one, so they booked a hotel room in Dayton the night before with a 4am wake-up to get to the airport in time.

Their day began with a 2am fire alarm in the hotel that didn’t get shut off for an hour. This is the only screw-up of the day that is not Northwest Airlines’ fault. After the alarm was turned off, they decided to go ahead and stay up, rather than trying to sleep for another hour or so.

They arrived at the airport in plenty of time for their flight, and everything seems to be okay until they are on the plane, which sat for an hour waiting for mechanics to fix a problem. Finally, everyone was told to get off the plane and go stand in line at the other end of the airport where they would be re-booked on different flights.

Except that the flight they were supposed to be on was never officially canceled in the computer system, so no one could get re-booked. On top of that, even when the customers could get re-booked, both printers at that station were broken. Neither of the airline employees at the counter knew what was going on with the flight. In fact, they told the people in line to call some numbers to see if they could find out what was happening. At no point did any management person come down and explain anything or try to fix the problems.

After several hours of standing in line, my parents were told that the best they could get was a United flight that would arrive in Seattle tomorrow night, and they would still be returning on Northwest Tuesday afternoon. They declined and went home.

Here’s the rub: Their original flight through Minneapolis was not canceled at all. It left on time while they were standing in line. And, they weren’t the only ones on the Dayton-Detroit-Seattle flight who had been told the Dayton-Minneapolis-Seattle flight was canceled and had been re-booked through Detroit.

Along with the “mechanical problems” that delayed my Northwest Airlines flights in December, this is the reason why I think the airline is going down and will likely fold in the next year if they don’t get their act together.