How to Keep Checked Bags From Getting Lost and Airline Executive Jailed

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. In respect to the many flyers here who elect to use Amtrak on the Northeast Corridor, especially between Washington-New York, it’s good that you provided this story in THE WASHINGTON POST.

    As a government bestowed monopoly in an industry (transportation) whose hallmark is competition, we will never be shocked re Amtrak’s lack of common sense towards executing customer experience. Indeed, the old joke how Amtrak emulates the best of the Third World is not so funny anymore.

    Until Amtrak fixes its broken business model, I have advised travelers on the Acela Express to grab a Red Cap in order to have access to board the train before the hordes, particularly if they desire one of the limited tables in first class.

    Oh yes, the boarding problems are not insurmountable, but of Amtrak’s making–just inquire of any person familiar with the how the railroads ran their trains prior to 1971. The difference is appalling:

    1) Passengers were allowed to board at least 30 minutes before departure; not 5 minutes before scheduled departure..
    2) Club Lounge and diner were open for business (i.e., “revenues”) upon boarding; not 90 minutes after tickets were “lifted.” And the club car was staffed with a trained-and equipped-bartender! Amazing in this age of Martinis, Manhattans, Old Fashions, etc, Amtrak offers none of these popular drinks. Instead, what’s acceptable is a pre-mixed canned Gin/Tonic with bits of grapefruit!
    3) Indeed, some railroads acknowledged how their cuisine attracted folks desiring a great meal while the train was in the depot; or, those who would ride a short distance in order to achieve such a special railroad meal. Perhaps the Santa Fe’s “Super Chief” best exemplified this, with people dining on board between Chicago-Joliet; riding a commuter back to Chicago.
    4) At the departing boarding gate was signage clearly indicating in detail the train’s consist by car number (e.g., Pullman, diner, lounge, coaches).
    5) Many trains provided reserved seats, which also eliminated any mad rush through the gates for desired seats.

    Amtrak is ripe for a Harvard Business School case study on the degradation of the customer experience. The best thing that can happen is for President Trump to accept NY’s Governor Cuomo recommendation and strip-out Amtrak’s control over the Gateway Project’s Hudson River tunnels. With that achieved, Amtrak should turnover its ownership of the Northeast Corridor to the USDOT, as it has proven how it cannot adequately manage ownership of the Corridor’s infrastructure.

    Ideally, with the Corridor out of Amtrak’s monopolistic clutches, the USDOT will encourage meaningful competition, such as”open access” and/or franchises by all vetted private operators to serve the many different markets along the Corridor.

  2. @Gary, you forgot to include a story beating up AA or praising Delta.
    As for BA, customers should remember to bring their own cereal bars, bagels, cream cheese, plastic knife, etc. Remember to sit in economy so you can sell what you don’t eat. PB&J could be a smashing success. At least, on SWA, they dont bait and switch on seat upgrades. Everyone gets the same anti-allergenic non-gmo, gluten free, food product.

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