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Heading Home After A Long Great Trip
Monday, October 5th, 2009:
  I left my Aunt & Uncle's house around 7:00am and drove back to Fullerton to turn in the rental car. The problems with the car would not be my responsibility and the Enterprise officials were very professional and friendly. They closed the rental contract and drove me back to the Fullerton Amtrak Station. The Los Angeles County Sheriffs were there doing random bag searches with bomb-sniffing dogs. I submitted my bags when asked, and no problems occurred of course. I boarded the Metrolink Commuter train when it arrived and it made a total of 3 stops before arriving at Los Angeles Union Station. I then caught the FlyAway bus from there to LAX Airport. I got off the bus at Terminal 5 for Delta Airlines and went inside to print my boarding passes only to find out that my flight from LAX to Cincinnati was overbooked! I was given the option to change my flight but declined as I booked this flight almost 8 months ago and had to get home! I checked 2 suitcases and went through security, no problems there. I had breakfast at McDonald's in the airport and proceeded to my gate. There was no mention of this overbooking of the flight once I reached the gate (there must have been enough "volunteers" who were willing to wait for a later flight. We had a Boeing 737-800 and the plane was full! I was seated at window seat 32F. Delta‚Äôs flight attendants provided excellent service throughout the flight. The flight actually went very well as we had a good strong tailwind (around 130mph and a cruising ground speed of over 600mph) and arrived in Cincinnati 1/2 hour early!!! This was great because I knew one of my favorite restaurants was in the food court in that airport! No not McDonald's (yes I have eaten at several of them throughout the trip because of the convenience), Chick Fil-A!!!!! We do not have this chain back home and they have the absolute best chicken sandwich you will ever eat!!!
  After eating dinner, I walked back to my gate to catch my flight home. This time around, I would be flying on a Delta Connection flight operated by "Chautauqua Airlines" in a little "puddle jumper" Embraer RJ145 Regional Jet. This was by far the smallest plane I ever flew in. The plane was narrower than an Amfleet Coach!!! It had 2 seats on one side and 1 on the other. I had single seat 8A and we actually had to walk outside the gate onto the tarmac to board the plane! A different experience indeed! The plane had 1 flight attendant and she did an excellent job. The flight lasted only 50-55 minutes and they did serve us free pop and snacks but no other food was available for purchase. I could see Cedar Point as we got closer to Lake Erie on the way to Buffalo. We landed close to on time in Buffalo and I picked up my luggage (which ended up being damaged by the airline but I'm not filing any complaint because the luggage already had 2 broken wheels on it and it was dirt cheap when I bought it). Word of advice, you get what you pay for when it comes to luggage. Save your money, don't make the mistake I made and get quality luggage! I plan to do this myself before I take another trip! I took the airport shuttle to the long-term B Lot at the Buffalo Airport and paid the $74.00 to get my car back since I left it there for 11 days and drove home. And so ends an incredible Amtrak trip that was nothing short of amazing!!!
In Conclusion:

  This would be my first experience riding the Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited. It also marked my first visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. This trip also brought me to Cedar Point to visit the park for the 18th straight year in a row and I also visited the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for the 3rd time. Overall, the service I received on Amtrak was largely decent with only a few areas I had concern with. I felt the dining car staff on the Texas Eagle could have been a bit friendlier (another passenger I talked to had some negative thoughts about their level of service) after having experienced doing business with an absolute top-notch crew on the Sunset Limited. The sleeper attendant I had from Chicago to San Antonio on the Texas Eagle was pleasant but was essentially nowhere to be found during parts of the trip. The attendant from San Antonio to Los Angeles was amazing! She did her job professionally and was there for you whenever you needed anything. She kept the car clean and neat and was super happy throughout the trip! As far as Diner-Lite service goes, Amtrak really needs to get rid of this and go back to the regular dining car service on the Texas Eagle. There is definitely enough demand for dining car service on this train!
  I would love to see a daily Sunset Limited train in the future along with a LA-Las Vegas train. Driving on I-15 to Vegas is no picnic and this type of a train would likely do very well especially once the economy has recovered. A daily Sunset Limited could work if Amtrak had the equipment for the service! President Obama and Vice President Biden have voiced their support for high-speed rail and for Amtrak. We can only hope that Amtrak now has a real fighting chance to be better than it's ever been if only it gets properly funded and the money is used properly to operate it. Until my next trip, when I'll be making my annual Christmas Shopping trip across New York State, Happy Railfanning...