- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2001

Washington area residents can now purchase a single ticket from their travel agents that will get them both Amtrak rail service and an airline flight.

Amtrak's latest deal with Icelandair is a first marketing venture toward integrating rail service with numerous airlines' flights, Amtrak officials say.

"It's definitely one more initiative to provide one-stop service for our customers," says Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Van Veen. "We're trying to make it easier for them to include rail in their travel plans."

Amtrak's marketing personnel decided to try out the venture based partly on the success of rail service to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Miss Van Veen says.

The route from Washington to BWI is one of the railroad's most popular, which also helped make the airport the nation's fastest growing in terms of number of passengers who use it.

"It's so easy to get up there on Amtrak," Miss Van Veen says.

BWI grew more than 12 percent last year. Washington Dulles International Airport topped the list as the nation's fastest growing the year before.

Amtrak and the airlines' marketing plans also are getting support from the state of Maryland.

Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari told business leaders Friday he is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to help with a proposal to allow airline passengers to check their baggage at Amtrak stations and have it transferred to the airlines, allowing them to pick up their bags at their final destinations.

Mr. Porcari is one of the transportation officials trying to alleviate complaints about travel delays and congestion in the Washington area.

He and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President Jim Wilding, who manages Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National airports, presented the baggage transfer plan recently to the Greater Washington Initiative, a business group.

"Transportation is economic development," Mr. Porcari says. "When we're building infrastructure, it's for a purpose for job development and economic development."

Thomas Morr, a Greater Washington Initiative partner, says that when recruiting businesses to Washington, transportation is often cited as a drawback.

Under the Icelandair deal, domestic and international travelers can now purchase tickets for travel between Washington or Philadelphia and Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. Passengers will travel by Amtrak from Washington or Philadelphia, connecting to Icelandair's daily flights from BWI.

Under this codeshare agreement, a first for travel in the United States, the train portion of the ticket will show an Icelandair flight number.

"This form of intermodal transportation has been quite successful in Europe, and our customer surveys indicated positive results in our test markets here," says Gunnar Eklund, Icelandair's general manager for the Americas. "We expect this to open the way for additional codeshare cities in the months to come," he adds.

The return flights will operate similarly, with shuttle service to the BWI Amtrak station following Icelandair flight arrival, baggage claim and customs clearance.

Tickets are available through travel agents or from Icelandair only, and may not be purchased through Amtrak reservations.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide