The Little (Search) Engine That Could

An app and website by the name of CheapAir today became the first and only online flight search engine to integrate with Amtrak routes and tickets, allowing passengers to mix and match their itineraries to take advantage of cost and time savings my combining two proven modes of travel.  As I have mentioned in previous articles showcasing the possibilities for Ohio, the integration of rail and air is the next logical step in a unified travel environment for the United States.  Using either the website or the CheapAir app for iOS, users can easily take advantage of this new-found convenience and easily connect to their destination city regardless of the actual location of the nearest large international airport.

How this new methodology will ultimately benefit the consumer is showcased in big ways in an itinerary from destinations serving New York City, Boston, or Washington, D.C.  These destinations are the first Amtrak routes to appear in the search engine, as they are some of the most popular routes for the national rail carrier.  Previously, United Airlines allowed shared itineraries through its Newark hub to include some rail travel options, though many users found this feature fairly cumbersome if they were not from the area, as the final destination cities were not always clearly labeled by the city name.

As demand for railway travel increases, CheapAir will continue to add additional routes. Obviously, the focus of the travel options presented will be short-haul train routes meant to encapsulate a true intermodal hub system, where passengers can leave their vehicles at home or a local train depot and easily commute to their nearest airport for their flight.  Any excuse to sidestep $30-per-day airport parking is a good one, I’d say!

“We’re big proponents of air travel, but sometimes it’s just better to roll than fly,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of “When you want to save a few hundred dollars, take in the scenery, carve out some time to get work done on-the-move or even minimize the driving commute to your final destination, rail travel can make a lot of sense. This is one more way we’re providing travelers with choices, convenience and significant savings.”

Providing customers the ability to have such options is certainly a game-changing concept to be encapsulated by online flight search engines.  This concept will definitely be interesting to follow, and hopefully continues to trend towards more and more integration of rail and air within the United States, perhaps eventually catching up to the intermodality that exists in many European and Asian cities.  For now, we can all watch happily as CheapAir becomes the little (search) engine that could.

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