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  4. I booked a premium ticket on Florida's high-speed Brightline train for just $44. The first-class experience was fabulous.

I booked a premium ticket on Florida's high-speed Brightline train for just $44. The first-class experience was fabulous.

Molly O'Brien   

I booked a premium ticket on Florida's high-speed Brightline train for just $44. The first-class experience was fabulous.
I enjoyed a cool, clean, and fast journey on Florida's Brightline high-speed train.Molly O'Brien/Business Insider
  • Brightline, a high-speed train operating in Florida, offers an alternative to road and air travel.
  • The rail line has trips between Orlando and Miami, with stops in between.

Floridians and those visiting the state now have a competitive alternative to road and air travel.

Brightline, a high-speed train that runs between Orlando and Miami — with four stops in between and more in the works — offers a clean, cool, and comfortable way to travel within the Sunshine State.

The rail line began operating in 2018 with stops in South Florida, then expanded to Orlando in late 2023.

The Orlando to Miami journey from end to end takes about three hours and thirty minutes. According to Google Maps, driving the same route would take about four hours (or more if there's traffic).

On a sunny Saturday in March, I took a Brightline train from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. When I bought tickets, prices ranged from $10 to $44 for the 36-minute ride.

I decided to splurge on a premium ticket for $44 — $20 more than a regular ticket — and I'm glad I did.

The included snacks and drinks, extra space, and access to a special lounge before boarding made the trip feel like a first-class experience.

Here's what my Brightline trip was like from end to end.

A spacious lobby greets passengers at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station.

A spacious lobby greets passengers at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station.
The lobby of the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station was bright and sunny.      Molly O'Brien

Though this station has been open for a few years, the building looked very clean and seemed new. Large windows allowed the sunlight to flood the spacious lobby.

A digital board clearly displayed the arrival and departure times.

A digital board clearly displayed the arrival and departure times.
Arrival and departure signs were easy to see and read.      Molly O'Brien

Trips can be booked via Brightline's app or website, or in person at an automated ticket kiosk.

It was also easy to view departure and arrival times for Brightline trains.

The artwork in the lobby was vibrant and fun.

The artwork in the lobby was vibrant and fun.
Colorful maps of the regions Brightline serves lined the walls of the Fort Lauderdale station.      Molly O'Brien

Although the lobby had a rather minimalist design, I appreciated the vibrant maps lining the walls.

Going through security was a breeze.

Going through security was a breeze.
The security checkpoint at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station.      Molly O'Brien

Going through security was a quick and seamless experience.

During my visit, passengers had to pass through a metal detector and bags were scanned. Unlike the TSA line at the airport, I didn't have to remove my shoes.

Once I got past security, I found a bar area where eI could wait for my train.

Once I got past security, I found a bar area where eI could wait for my train.
The bar at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station.      Molly O'Brien

The Mary Mary Bar at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station has food and drinks, including signature cocktails, available for purchase.

The nearby shop selling drinks and snacks was also well stocked.

The nearby shop selling drinks and snacks was also well stocked.
There were plenty of snacks and drinks for sale in the waiting area.      Molly O'Brien

As a premium ticket holder, I was able to breeze by these options on my way to an exclusive lounge that my ticket granted me access to.

The premium lounge was airy and bright.

The premium lounge was airy and bright.
The floor to ceiling windows of the premium lounge looked out onto stunning views of the city skyline.      Molly O'Brien

Although all tickets include access to complimentary WiFi, power outlets, and one free carry-on bag, those who upgrade to a premium ticket also enjoy a few extra amenities, including entry to the station's premium lounge before departure.

Hot and cold food options were available — and included in the cost of my ticket.

Hot and cold food options were available — and included in the cost of my ticket.
A breakfast buffet in the premium lounge at a Florida Brightline station.      Molly O'Brien

The breakfast buffet available during my visit exceeded my expectations. There were hot eggs, sausage, fruit salad, and potatoes up for grabs.

The display was pretty, too, and was even decorated with flowers.

I also found a high-tech coffee machine that served lattes and teas.

I also found a high-tech coffee machine that served lattes and teas.
A coffee machine at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station premium lounge.      Molly O'Brien

Coffee, tea, and other warm drinks could be had with the push of a button — all complimentary in the premium lounge.

Wine and beer were also on tap.

Wine and beer were also on tap.
Complimentary drinks were available in the lounge.      Molly O'Brien

A variety of wines and beers were available via self-serve taps in the premium lounge.

Once I had some food, I grabbed a seat near one of the windows.

Once I had some food, I grabbed a seat near one of the windows.
The view was too pretty not to take a photo of with my breakfast.      Molly O'Brien

The premium lounge had many seating options, and wasn't too crowded during my visit. Overall, this first-class experience exceeded my expectations before we even boarded.

There was a separate set of stairs near the premium lounge for riders to board the train.

There was a separate set of stairs near the premium lounge for riders to board the train.
The author outside of the premium lounge at the Fort Lauderdale Brightline station.      Molly O'Brien

Eventually, it was time for me to board my train, which was set to depart at 11:30 a.m.

Some passengers were already settled when I boarded the train.

Some passengers were already settled when I boarded the train.
The aisle was wide and easy to walk down.      Molly O'Brien

There were two seats on one side of the car and one seat on the other.

My train car was quite full but it didn't feel cramped since there was so much space to spread out.

The seats were comfortable and roomy.

The seats were comfortable and roomy.
The premium seats were spacious and comfortable.      Molly O'Brien

Those with premium tickets have access to 21-inch leather seats. For comparison, the Smart Fare (Brightline's business-class option) has 19-inch seats.

All seats have access to complimentary WiFi and multiple power and USB Type-A or USB Type-C outlets.

My seat provided me with plenty of room to relax.

My seat provided me with plenty of room to relax.
The writer enjoying a cool, comfortable ride on the Brightline train.      Molly O'Brien

After boarding the train, I settled into my seat in the very first car.

I was quickly greeted by the Brightline employee who'd be taking care of the car.

The tray tables at each seat were large, which was helpful when the complimentary snacks arrived.

The tray tables at each seat were large, which was helpful when the complimentary snacks arrived.
More complimentary snacks are available on the train.      Molly O'Brien

Free snacks and drinks were included with premium tickets.

Snacks included popcorn, a fruit bar, chocolate, and a cheese stick. A range of beverages were also available for me to order, and I chose a sparkling wine.

Those who don't book premium seats can purchase concessions on board.

The ride on Florida's Brightline was relaxing.

The ride on Florida
The view from the window of a Brightline train in Florida.      Molly O'Brien

I enjoy train travel because I feel like it's relaxing and there's so much to see outside of the windows and this trip did not dissappoint.

The bathrooms on the train were spacious and clean, too.

The bathrooms on the train were spacious and clean, too.
The lavatory was clean and spacious.      Molly O'Brien

The onboard bathroom near me was super spacious and seemed clean.

There was plenty of bag storage onboard.

There was plenty of bag storage onboard.
There was ample luggage storage.      Molly O'Brien

I was impressed by how much space there was for passengers' luggage on the train. There were also bike racks available for those who want to travel with a set of wheels.

The ride was comfortable and the time passed quickly.

The ride was comfortable and the time passed quickly.
The author on a Brightine train.      Molly O'Brien

My train took just 36 minutes to cover the about 46-mile journey from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach — which, according to Google Maps, can take from 45 minutes to over an hour via car, depending on traffic.

I was a little bummed to arrive at the West Palm Beach station because I'd been enjoying the ride so much.

I was a little bummed to arrive at the West Palm Beach station because I
My server said goodbye when I reached my destination.      Molly O'Brien

When it was time to disembark, I quickly gathered my belongings and stepped off the train.

I only wish the journey wasn't so quick. I really enjoyed looking out the window and the ride felt like such a relaxing way to travel.

The West Palm Beach station was also clean and bright.

The West Palm Beach station was also clean and bright.
Departing the train was as seamless as boarding.      Molly O'Brien

The West Palm Beach station looked similar in style to the Fort Lauderdale one where my journey started. There were signs clearly marking where travelers might need to go next.

I had a great ride, and I'd travel with Brightline again.

I had a great ride, and I
Overall, I enjoyed my experience riding Brightline.      Molly O'Brien

Although ticket prices vary depending on the length of the ride, the date, and the time of day riders choose, I think my ride was a great value at $44.

Paying $20 extra for the premium ticket was absolutely worth it based on the extra amenities I enjoyed.

Lastly, I loved how quickly I got to my destination — driving would've likely taken me longer and I wouldn't have been able to relax because I'd be focusing on the road.

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