Podcast #59 – Trains to Planes; Renting a Rambling Wreck

Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago in the middle of the one week a year I refuse to travel — Thanksgiving Day week. With environmental and economic reasons to reduce unneeded car trips, how easy is it to take a train to and from the airport? The answer is mixed and it doesn’t look to get any better any time soon. We also talk about the deteriorating state of the rental car fleet — which is making public transit look more attractive. A listener sends in a comment on airport power station etiquette, and we talk about a collection of airline food menus from the past. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.

Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #59:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the TravelCommon studios outside Chicago, IL
  • No travel this week — leaving the airports to the “less experienced” travelers
  • Bridge Music — Arlos Auto Parts and Salvation by Swivel Neck Jones
  • Following Up

  • Received an e-mail from United the morning after a LAX-ORD flight that was delayed 3 hours. The e-mail gave a nice apology and 5,000 miles for my troubles.
  • A listener talks about his travails in finding working power outlets in airports and on airplanes
  • Northwestern University Library launched web access to its collection of past airline menus. Talked about a 1969 United Airlines menu and a 1962 menu from East Africa Airways.
  • Bridge Music — Smiling Perspective by General Fuzz
  • Trains to Planes

  • What’s the best way from Newark Airport to Manhattan? It depends how much time and money you have, and it’s an inverse relationship.
  • With lots of time, you can save money by taking the monorail over the marshes to a train station served by Amtrak and NJ Transit trains
  • It’s a pretty handy set up, but as with many – too many – plane-train connections, not intuitively obvious, not very user-friendly, at least for first time users
  • The “gold standard” of airport rail links remains the Heathrow Express — expensive, but convenient
  • Subway systems in Washington DC, Chicago and Atlanta inexpensively deliver you directly to the terminal
  • Public pressure to locate new airports far away from population centers doesn’t bode well for easy public transit links. Denver’s new airport may get a rail link by 2015.
  • Wikipedia has what looks like a good listing of global airport rail links.
  • Bridge Music — Goa Life by Ambient Teknology
  • Renting a Rambling Wreck

  • I’ve received more 20,000+ mile cars from Hertz this year than ever before, and this is with some level of status in Hertz’s Gold Club.
  • A Wall Street Journal article said that rental car companies are letting their fleets age an additional 2,000 miles
  • Another WSJ article says that the drop in rental car customer satisfaction reported in the latest JD Powers survey is linked to the aging fleet.
  • I switched to Avis until they tried to stick me with the repair cost of a previously damaged tail light
  • It’s driving me to use cabs, limos, and public transit more often, even when more expensive and less convenient
  • Closing

  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from Magnatune
  • Feedback at comments@travelcommons.com, the comment board on podcastalley.com, or right here in the comments section below
  • Direct link to the show
Leave a comment


  1. Love your podcast. I agree that it would be great to take the light rail from Denver to DIA, there is however an alternative.
    I live in the Denver metro area and recently took the RTD’s SkyRide to the airport. The cost varies depending on your distance from the airport. I live at the farthest western stop and it cost me $10 each way on a very comfortable charter style bus. The driver even stored the luggage underneath and loaded and unloaded it for me. If I had parked at the airport in longterm parking it would have cost me $36 for my 4 day trip. The only cost me $20. The bus made a few stops in downtown Denver, so it would work for business travelers as well.

  2. Wired Magazine’s Blog Network has an article with their rating of the 5 best airport-to-city rail connections. Their ranking — Hong Kong, Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow, Tokyo-Narita, and Chicago. Check out the comments — they’re as good as the article

  3. Howdy Mark,
    I’m more of a leisure traveller than for business, but nevertheless,
    I picked up a lot of great advice from this podcast. Thanks a million for your efforts.
    They’ve been invaluable in order to make my journeys smoother.

    This episode got me intrigued, because I’ve been frustrated out of my mind over so many
    airports being so far away from their destination cities.

    Not so the case with Amsterdam, Netherlands. Of course, it needs to be outside of the city core,
    but Schiphol (the “ch” being pronounced as a harking noise) is no further than 15 minutes by a
    comfy commuter train from the city centre, for less than four Euro. You don’t even need to go
    outdoors to get from the terminal building to the airport train station. If the weather’s bad,
    you won’t get wet until you exit the Amsterdam Centraal.

    I also frequently visit Oslo, Norway, where the authorities decided to relocate the old airport to a
    location further away from the city entity. It used to be very conveniently located in a neighboring
    municipality, which was quite accessible for everyone in the city. Less than 10 minutes by local train,
    as opposed to 40 minutes by dedicated airport express train (despite their website claiming 20 –
    see http://www.flytoget.no/eng), and the airport itself is in the middle of nowhere.
    Bus or car takes at least an hour. (That’s Gardermoen, and not Torp, where the budget airlines fly.)

    In Cork, Ireland, where I live, there’s no train out to the airport, but bus or taxi takes 20 minutes from
    city centre (even though the bus company advertises 25 minutes). The airport itself is much better
    than going to Dublin, which is almost as much of a nightmare as Heathrow.