Her flight kept getting canceled, so she took a cross-country train

Posted at 8:17 AM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 11:34:31-04


SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It’s a story of travel particular to our current era. With flight cancellations, social distance and widespread closure of businesses, getting from one side of the country to the other has become challenging.

Ilena Fitzpatrick McCaffrey currently lives in Long Island, but spends the winter in San Diego where she had spent many years as a teacher.

She had planned on returning to New York on March 26, but started getting worried last week that her flight may get canceled.

“I realized on Friday after talking to my sister that travel could be a problem,” she said.

So she moved her ticket to March 23, anxious to meet her husband back home.

But the night before, it was canceled.

“I said ‘oh my goodness, what am I going to do?’ So I re-booked for Tuesday,” she recounted. “10 minutes later I get a notification that flight had been canceled.”

At that point, she said she gave up looking for flights and decided to catch the 1:42 Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles before connecting to a cross-country train ride to New York.

On the first leg along the coast, she posted a few photos to her Facebook page.

It by no means went viral, but she remembered waking up the next morning near Albuquerque to a flood of likes and comments from her friends.

“I had 50-100 people following me, saying ‘I feel like I’m on the train with you.’”

So she kept posting updates, through the Raton Pass, across the plains, alongside the Mississippi River and into cities like Chicago.

“Every single city was desolate,” she remarked.

The train was also lightly populated. Normally with capacity for around 300 people, she said there were only nine.

Despite her own isolation on a four day journey across the country, she said her posts on Facebook brought her closer to her friends, albeit digitally.

“It was really about my friends. Thanks for coming aboard and sharing a ride with me.”