This Guide Shows US Routes Where Trains Are Better Than Flying

This Guide Shows US Routes Where Trains Are Better Than Flying

Train services in the USA aren’t widespread, but there are places where the train is actually a better choice than flying. The Points Guy has a guide that rounds up routes where travel by train is cheaper, and sometimes quicker, than by plane.

Image from prayitnophotography

The routes Nick Ewen, contributor to The Points Guy, compares are:

  • New York to Boston
  • Washington DC to New York
  • Chicago to Milwaukee
  • Los Angeles to San Diego
  • Fort Worth to Oklahoma City
  • Chicago to Ann Arbor/Detroit

If you plan to travel on any of these routes, you can use the information laid out in this guide to go by train rather than flying. For details on each route, including costs, travel time and on-time performance, check out the full post at the below link. (Lifehacker Australia can definitely recommend the LA-San Diego route.)

Train or Plane? U.S. Routes Where Amtrak Beats Flying [The Points Guy]


  • My experience in Europe was that even though flying might look quicker on paper, it often ends up taking much longer than you’d think. Although we only flew routes that were physically impossible to cover travelling overland in a day (by train/bus/ferry), e.g. Dubrovnik to Rome, we found that a two hour flight essentially took an entire day to complete. That’s factoring in time travelling to the airport, checking in by the required time so that you can get through security, waiting, flying time, waiting for baggage at the other end (can be avoided by travelling light), negating public transport in a new city by travelling from the airport to the city centre again.

    Since we were often staying in a city centre close to all the attractions of a city and trains happen to take you to the centre, even half a day spent travelling on a train meant we’d still have some time in the afternoon to explore the city. So I’d definitely travel by train on some of those routes if I visited the US.

    • Things like LA to San Diego I’d just drive… Its a mere two hour drive, the train is three hours.
      By the time you factor in getting from hotel to the train station, that’d easily be a four hour trip.

  • Did the trip from Boston to New York a few years back – accidentally paid an extra $50 for first class. Hands down the most comfortable train ride I’ve ever had and much less stressful than flying. No luggage worries, no scanners, just a great experience. Would recommend it to anyone needing to just about anywhere up and down the east coast.

    • +1

      We did the full DC – Boston run … and no regrets. It took a little over 6 hours, but factoring in the usual airport delays and taxis, we worked out that flying would have only been 30 minutes quicker city centre to city centre. Just turned up 5 minutes before departure and none of the security melodrama of American airports.

      And we went with the “first class” option too. Which wasn’t that much more expensive than standard … but well worth it for the extra space and unlimited complimentary alcohol.

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