I had a nice trip over Christmas, which ended with the red-eye flight back from Las Vegas on Christmas night. We arrived in New York where the forecast was for blizzard conditions later in the day. I was happy to see that not one flake had yet fallen when we landed early on the morning of the 26th.
My plans for a quick commute home were dashed when I found that all of my company's flights from New York to D.C. had already been canceled in anticipation of the snow. USAirways had one flight scheduled to go at 10:30, so I set out for La Guardia. I was there by 7 a.m. and kept an eye on the weather, as well as checking reports for D.C.
The flight was booked full, but I listed for the jumpseat and was starting to get optimistic about getting home when a USAirways pilot showed up and bumped me. It was disappointing, but that's the life of a commuter and I certainly don't begrudge the USAirways pilot the jumpseat. Of course he should get priority on his own airline. Being able to jumpseat on other carriers is a professional courtesy we extend to each other, and the priority thing works both ways.
How to get home? I've heard of commuters renting a car together and getting home that way, but I didn't see any other commuters and I didn't really like the idea of driving 300 miles with a blizzard in the forecast.
Then I had a wild thought. How about the train? I pulled out my iPhone and typed "AMTRAK" into my web browser. I found their website and found that the first available ticket to D.C. was on the 1:05 train. I booked it for $147, then took the bus and subway to Penn station. I felt like the guy in the Apple ad who books his train ticket to join some girl he just saw getting on. The difference is it took me about ten minutes to navigate the web sites vs. the 15 seconds it takes the guy in the ad.
The train station was mobbed, but I simply walked up to a ticket kiosk and put in the confirmation number that had been emailed to me. The train was a little late, but it was a very pleasant way to travel and I arrived at Union Station in D.C. around 5:30 pm to find that no snow had fallen there. What a relief! I had visions of digging out my car at the airport.
A quick cab to National airport to get my car, and I was on my way home. Planes, trains and automobiles. What a day.