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Trains Rival Airplanes

I also wanted to tell you about our return trip. The train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki was delightful. We did customs and currency exchange on the train, in the comfort of our seats. On trains there are no “seat-belt signs” so you can get up and go anytime you have the urge. The scenery is better than the tops of clouds, and the noise level is 1/10th that of an airplane.

If we had flown Helsinki to/from St. Petersburg, economy would have cost $280 (for the two of us) and business class would have been $535. The flight time would be 1:20 – plus all the airport BS of security, customs, getting to the gate, and then waiting to board, which would have added a minimum of an hour.

Feel the difference between airports and train stations

The train took 3:30 and cost $800 for first class. So it took a little longer, and cost a bit more, but it was the most friction-free un-stressful multi-country trip we have ever made. And we didn’t have to “be at the airport at least 2 hours before flight time”, 15 minutes was more than enough. Then there’s luggage, add another 15 to 30 minutes waiting for your bags at the airport.

In thinking about it, I’ve come to the realization that travel by air is all about queuing. You have to wait in long lines to get your boarding pass and check any luggage, then lines to get through customs, then lines to get through security, then lines to get on the plane, and when you land, you have to do all those lines again. The queuing and the interrogations at security and customs, and the lines make air travel so stressful it takes the all the joy out of it.

 

Jon Peddie
traveled June 2013

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