Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blogging from the train

I just finished my meetings in Paris and am headed home. Everyone I met today was really friendly, from the cafe staff to the train conductor. I guess yesterday I just caught the wrong people on the wrong day.

I do love the train systems here. They're on time, relatively affordable, and frequent. The other thing I love is the concept of "ticketless travel." When I booked my tickets online I went to the Thalys train web site and signed up for their ticketless program. It's a free program where they send you an ID card (much like an airline frequent flier card). That card is all you need to travel. On board, the train conductors simply scan your card to verify the reservation, and off you go. Forgot your card? No problem. They just look at your ID to find your reservation. If only the airlines could adopt this program. Think of the paper we'd save and the time we'd get back. Plus - they send me a text message on my cell phone 2 hours before the train, reminding me of the confirmation number, carriage number and seat number.

I felt like a saavy traveler when my Dutch and French seatmates looked up and saw that I didn't have paper. They immediately asked me how it worked and said "Wish we'd known. We just ran for the train because of the queue for tickets!." Usually I'm the one who's clueless here - but today I was in the know.

I also love that they have Wifi Internet on the trains. It's a bit slower than normal, but I gladly paid 6 Euros ($10) for the service.

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