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When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Experience 020 Show Notes. Go or no-go? When Vinny and Geoff's rail travel plans went sideways. The Seat 1A Podcast.

Sep 3, 2019

Recorded 28 August 2019

Written by: Geoff Dahl & Vinod Viswalingam

Listen to this experience wherever you download your podcasts - including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play and Overcast.

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In this experience we look at two rail travel adventures from Vinny and Geoff from their recent round the world adventures. In both cases they were left with a go/no-go decision point to determine if they should go on.

Vinny's took place on the North-South line in Vietnam – on a trip between Hue and Da Nang. He utilized the resources available to him with local population to help him with the issue. Geoff's took place at Frankfurt station in Germany – on a trip to Dusseldorf in the midst of weather delays and cancellations. He utilized alternate connections being available – even if they were not the ones suggested.

Vinny also shares a train adventure from Spain - not from this year's round the world adventure - trying to get from Alicante to Madrid on a busy weekend.

We also share our condolences for Captain Al Haynes who passed away on 25 August 2019. He became famous for his incredible leadership of United Airlines Flight 232 on 19 July 1989.

If you have a story of your travel going sideways (rail or otherwise), question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Patreon. Show notes are available online at


NEWS ITEMS | Hero United Airlines Pilot Al Haynes Dead at 87 (27 August 2019)
"Retired United Airlines pilot Captain Al Haynes has died in a hospital in Seattle. He was 87. Haynes was best known for piloting a United flight that crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989. Because of his competency, he was able to save 184 passengers and crewmembers."


  • "Trains between Hanoi & Saigon are sometimes referred to as the Reunification Express by guide books and tourist agencies, although there are now a whole range of trains on this route and no single train officially carries this name." (
  • In the last 20 seconds before touchdown, the airspeed of UA 232 averaged 215 knots-indicated air speed, and the sinkrate was 1620 feet per minute; while a safe landing would require 140 knots and 300 feet per minute.



  • What's in this experience? [00:00:46]
  • Vinny's experience with the Reunification Express in Vietnam [00:02:05]
  • Booking was done from Hue to Da Nang [00:02:42]
  • What had Vinny booked online - what was included? [00:03:22]
  • The train is stopped, what's happening? [00:07:29]
  • There's a problem with the train on a single track in front of Vinny [00:08:33]
  • How long's the wait? No one knows. [00:08:50]
  • First call to the hotel - they already know. [00:09:19]
  • The train is stopped, but not at a passenger station. [00:10:11]
  • How long does 35 km of Vietnamese mountain road driving take? [00:10:44]
  • Vinny's locked into the train. [00:11:18]
  • The critical go/no-go decision point for the hotel pickup. [00:12:14]
  • The replacement vehicles have arrived? [00:13:26]
  • Vinny's train is not the only one that is stopped. [00:15:09]
  • Random SUVs are showing up as well - and picking up familiar passengers. [00:16:21]
  • Another call to the hotel - the price rises...a lot. [00:17:06]
  • Buses showed up to pick up the passengers - but did they tell the locals already on board? [00:17:48]
  • Vinny's finally rolling toward Da Nang. [00:19:45]
  • There's a big long tunnel instead of a sea view. [00:20:20]
  • Is the bus going to make it through the tunnel with all of the pollution? [00:20:58]
  • Finally the bus makes it to the other side - the hotel shuttle is waiting at the train station. [00:21:36]
  • Sometimes you make the effort to book an entire Seat 1A experience, but it goes sideways. [00:22:27]
  • A derailment ahead had caused the delay. [00:22:49]
  • Lesson learned. [00:23:31]
  • Geoff's experience with German rail chaos during a heatwave. [00:24:11]
  • Two ways to get from Kassel to Dusseldorf. [00:24:44]
  • One of the ways was cancelled, but the other way was late. [00:25:12]
  • Should Geoff follow directions on the app during transportation disruptions? [00:25:54]
  • Geoff's go/no-go moment. [00:26:30]
  • Lesson learned - Geoff had an open ticket. [00:29:09]
  • Vinny shares an story with Spanish trains in Alicante. [00:30:22]
  • Vinny gets curious - how are they checking the tickets? [00:31:51]
  • Vinny tries to get on the next train. [00:32:54]
  • The attendant shows up with a small boy. [00:34:11]
  • Here comes the ticket check - did Vinny make it ok? [00:34:50]
  • Vinny ended up making the trip to Madrid. [00:36:04]
  • Condolences and RIP Captain Al Haynes (United Airlines Flight 232). [00:36:44]
  • Wrap-up. [00:40:07]