Trains vs. planes: 8 tips for replacing flights with rail travel

In light of flygskam and growing high-speed train networks, rail may become more important for business trips. This is what travel managers and business travelers should know if they want to increase rail trips.

Business travelers across the globe may book more train tickets in 2020, according to BCD Travel’s latest Industry Forecast. The shift may be due in part to the concept of “flygskam” or “flight shaming,” an activist movement that encourages travelers to replace flights with rail trips to reduce air travel’s impact on the environment.

Fast trains are also helping reshape how travelers reach their destinations. Rail is replacing flights for some short-haul distances, and the trend will grow as more high-speed trains come online. Rail travel also saves costs and allows business travelers more productivity during trips. Some airlines even cooperate with rail carriers to allow passengers to book rail tickets with flights.

Read the 2020 Industry Forecast to explore the business travel trends, challenges and opportunities ahead.

Pro tips for replacing air trips with rail

Travel managers should consider the following advice:

  1. Make sure rail options are included and promoted in your online booking tool (OBT). You can influence business travelers’ booking decisions just like retailers influence shoppers’ choices. This merchandising tactic transforms your OBT into your own travel store.
  2. Make sure your travel policy has the latest information on the best rail routes. Check the journey times of existing rail routes regularly and add new ones as they become available. Track upgrades and new trains can reduce journey times and make those routes more attractive for business travelers.
  3. Consider mandating rail when fares and total journey times are comparable to or better than an air trip.
  4. Offer a rail-air trip combination if there is no appropriate rail connection for the whole distance. Some airlines cooperate with rail carriers to allow passengers to book rail tickets with flights.

Rail trip tips for business travelers:

  1. Book rail tickets early. Advance bookings save costs and improve your chances of securing seats on popular routes, like the Beijing-Shanghai journey.
  2. Allow time for train transfers and travel delays.
  3. Pack light. Passengers must manage their luggage on most Pack carefully to reduce bulk or weight that could slow down boarding or deboarding.
  4. Choose a seat with a power socket and Wi-Fi. But be sure to observe traveler safety tips to prevent fraud.

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