Amtrak pitches itself as friendlier alternative to airlines

Amtrak pitches itself as friendlier alternative to airlines
© Greg Nash

Amtrak has a message for consumers: It’s not the airline industry.

With a new CEO at its helm, the passenger railroad has launched an advertising campaign that seizes on customers’ biggest frustrations with air travel and paints Amtrak as a more comfortable — and friendlier — travel alternative.

A series of videos and online ads point out that there are no middle seats, baggage fees or change fees on Amtrak, the seats are spacious and equipped with power outlets, and passengers can use their cellphones and are free to move around the train.

“It's time we stop putting up with travel's every last headache,” the ad campaign’s website says. “Traveling shouldn’t feel like work, especially when it’s for fun.”

 

The marketing pitch comes as the airline industry faces heavy scrutiny following a series of controversies, including one that showed a 69-year-old passenger being violently dragged off a United Airlines flight.

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Richard Anderson, the incoming CEO of Amtrak, is a former chief executive at Delta Air Lines. He is currently serving as president and co-CEO of Amtrak but will take over full-time when the other co-CEO steps down at the end of this year.

While Anderson will primarily be focused on improving rail service, he also hopes to attract new customers.

The goal for the new campaign, dubbed “Break the Travel Quo,” is largely targeted at airline and bus commuters who may be frustrated with their current travel methods.