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admin 13.03.2016

This post was inspired by my recent Amtrak trip from Seattle to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight (link). Anyway, once you make it to Los Angeles Union Station, you will need to take the Union Station FlyAway Bus to LAX.
Alternatively, if you need to get to San Diego International Airport (SAN), you can take the Pacific Surfliner train the opposite direction.
Once you take the Pacific Surfliner to the San Diego Santa Fe Depot (end of the line for the Pacific Surfliner), you will need to walk across the street and get on 992 bus to SAN. If you get the app Hop Stop for your phone you can see ways to get to LAX using the OC and LA busses.
According to the Amtrak website, the last train that leaves Los Angeles Union Station leaves at 10:10pm. Anyway, it seems like public transit options from Orange County to LAX and SAN are inconvenient.
Last month, I shared my experience riding the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Seattle down to Los Angeles (link). The first thing you should know is that the Pacific Surfliner is part of Amtrak’s special routes, where it costs only 1,500 Amtrak Points per person each way, regardless of how long or short the ride is. The Pacific Surfliner runs multiple times every day from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, a 5 hour and 45 minute journey if you go end to end.
Amtrak has a pretty cool iPhone App where you can see all your upcoming trips and view your eTickets. An eTicket is just like an electronic boarding pass you would use to board a flight or get through TSA screening.
Closeup image of the military helicopters as they prepare to land on the beach, very cool stuff! My logical choice would have been to grab the San Diego Coaster train from Oceanside to Carlsbad Village. After having lunch with my friend at a nice cafe in Carlsbad Village, we walked along the beach and talked miles, points, travel, and shared notes about blogging.


I also saw a few Metrolink trains that day and was curious what their schedule and routes looked like. In the past Amtrak tickets were cross honored for Metrolink and Coaster, which makes sense as they are the higher priced options. I usually try to rise above and not let these things bother me but on that particular day I’ll admit I felt my blood pressure rise a little, and as we finally took off I found myself thinking about the Pacific Surfliner train in sunny California.
Even without factoring in the 45 minutes it took to get to the airport, I realised I could have already made it from Los Angeles to San Diego in the time it took to get from the airport entrance to wheels up.
When they explained the train cost $56 for a business class seat and that it included free snacks and drinks, including tea, coffee, juice and wine, and free WiFi throughout the journey I was a little bit worried about Amtrak’s business model. As you have already guessed I jumped at the chance to get on the Pacific Surfliner which has been running between San Luis Obispo and San Diego since the year 2000. As a business class passenger I had access to Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge which only opened last December and was a nice little oasis from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the station. When it came time to board the train I had a game plan that involved getting on quickly, and nabbing a window seat upstairs on the right hand side so I’d have the best view on the way down to San Diego. After leaving Los Angeles the Surfliner train hugged the coastline, and the free WiFi was forgotten as I looked out the window at California beach life.
As it was a Sunday we passed market days and fairs along the way, and as the driver hooted his horn I was close enough to see the big smiles on children’s faces as they waved back. As well as the happy faces outside the train, I was pleasantly surprised by how warm and friendly the staff on board the Surfliner were too. Looking around me I saw a mix of sports fans, business types, day trippers and tourists like myself all just relaxing in comfort as we made our way along the California coastline. In San Diego Amanda stayed as a guest of Sofia Hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, and an easy five minute walk from the San Diego train station.
As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips through my blog and on my weekly travel segment on Sydney Radio 2UE. Many times we arrive at LAX at midnight and we have to take the shuttle with many stops which is very inconvenient.


Now only monthly passes are cross honored, although there are confusing exceptions – the Amtrak trains that make the Carlsbad stop honor Coaster tickets (a 50% or more savings from regular prices) and Metrolink and Amtrak tickets are valid on either service from Burbank Airport to Los Angeles. Here they have complimentary tea, coffee, a fridge full of soft drinks, and pastries and muffins if you’re ready for a snack.
I assumed I’d be able to see a bit of the ocean from time to time, but underestimated just how much I would see and how close I would be.
There, just outside the window, were people surfing, kiteboarding, playing volleyball or just sunning themselves on the sand. Not only when they came through to offer drinks and snacks including potato chips, danishes and muffins, but also when they made their announcements. Amanda independently purchased her own Los Angeles to San Diego train tickets on the Pacific Surfliner. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Metrolink has the $10 weekend day pass, and Coaster has a $12 day pass everyday which are valid on the six special Amtrak trains from Oceanside to San Diego. They also have free internet access and newspapers as well as a conference room if you need somewhere to talk business before you get on the rails.
You can check out some of my other train reviews including going to Machu Picchu in style on Belmond’s Hiram Bingham, the spectacular Oslo to Bergen train in Norway, the old Sunlander train in Queensland and its replacement, the Spirit of Queensland with their unusual railbeds. Luckily Amtrak and Coaster have online ticketing, and Metrolink soon will, which will allow the walk-up customer to just purchase a ticket for the next train while it’s pulling up. You get to the gate for your flight and sit there surrounded by glum looking people for half an hour and then the flight is delayed. The glum looking people become annoyed looking people as the delay stretches on, and it then takes about another half hour to board the plane, before you sit on the tarmac and wait for a spot to open up on the runway.



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