Why would anyone living in Los Angeles take the train to San Diego?

You can get there in about 2 hours on the freeway, and secondly, was San Diego’s airport runway long enough for the long distance flight to London?

A few years ago I was invited on a trip to London by way of San Diego, to experience (and write about) British Airways service to London from that city.

The airport’s original name was San Diego Municipal Airport—Lindbergh Field, located on 661 acres, 3 miles northwest of downtown San Diego.

The runway though, has a unique place in American aviation. It is the busiest single-runway airport in the nation, at 9,401-feet long and 200-feet wide.

As an ex-airline employee (I was manager of public relations for Continental Airlines), I was mesmerized by the fact that San Diego’s Lindbergh Field has a shorter runway than many other airports in the US who offer long distance flights to Europe. So, I wanted to experience it firsthand.

As we waited to take off it, seemed the aircraft revved up its engines to an extraordinarily high RPM degree. Indeed, when the pilot released the aircraft’s brakes, I felt as if I was on a “thrill ride” at Disneyland.

It was if we’d been shot out of a canon. The acceleration was so intense as the aircraft thundered down the runway. It was, I thought, just like a thoroughbred racing car at peak performance. Yes, of course we made it, but it was—a huge thrill.

As I live in Los Angeles, the second reason was finding the most interesting way to get to San Diego.

Well, I reasoned, this would be the ideal time to do something I’d thought about forever, but had never done. Take the train.

My goodness, what a relaxing and enjoyable trip! I even wished it lasted much longer. I boarded in LA’s Union Station where, in its heyday, was the place for movie traveling across the country by train in luxury. Indeed, Union Station is a glorious reminder of the Golden Age of US railroad travel.

I rode in Amtrak’s Double Decker Business Class with large panoramic windows. It was a real joy to enjoy the scenery as we went on our way.

On the first level there’s a special area to get coffee and cookies and other sweet pastries. If work is your thing, there are electrical outlets for laptop computers, and lots of legroom.

I’d long since given up my surfboard, but I could easily have taken it along, unboxed, as well as my bicycle, because Amtrak allows you to take both on the Surfliner as carry-on luggage! Try that with an airline—Amtrak obviously loves Southern California lifestyles!

Some of the stations en route were so quaint and romantic, making me think of more peaceful times. The train even lazily glided along an extensive beach for part of the trip. Any closer and we’d have actually been on the sand!

I asked a fellow passenger the obvious question: why did she take the train? Part of the answer was in front of me, as she had her laptop out on the tray table and was busily typing away.

“I take the train because it’s relaxing. It’s all peace and quiet. No worries about traffic,” she said.

Like me, she said she also loved that much of the trip is right by the Pacific Ocean.

When we arrived in San Diego, I wanted to instantly do the whole trip over again.

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