The discussion about what factors travelers take into consideration as they make the decision to fly or take the train is interesting, as is the section about the changes the airlines have made to entice rail users back to flying.
Programs: AA EXP 1MM, UA Something or other under the new system MM, Costco General Member
Agreed about the non-NE corridor routes. But I had gone to the air shuttles for a bit and now back to Amtrak. And Amtrak is a LOT more pleasant on those routes. I have had recent trips from NY to DC, Baltimore and Providence and Amtrak has been very pleasant. Also, very recently they have gone to electronic boarding passes on the Acela. This means I can literally change trains and such on the way to Penn station or DC from my phone and get right on my train without lines or anything. It is a big improvement.
I have yet to meet a pleasant Amtrak employee; that being said, I'd still take it on short hops when I have to leave around rush hour or for other circumstances. The ride from Milwaukee to Chicago was fine and quite affordable (bought the night before for US$11).
For the NY to Philly run, although the $1 buses have taken as short a time as 1 hour and 40 minutes, my new favorite way is to take NJ Transit from NY Penn to Trenton, and then SEPTA from Trenton to 30th St. in Philly. Under twenty bucks, and sometimes there's even a quiet car (if I leave at busier times). Granted, this isn't a typical flight segment either...