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How Comfortable?


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#1 blue_hydrangea

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 01:34 PM

My two teenagers and I are considering taking the California Zephyr from Denver, CO to Reno, NV. Total trip time is about 27 hours and I don't think I want to book a sleeper car (too expensive for 3 adults!).

Just how comfortable are the reserved coach seats? Just how much leg room is there? We have taken many long-distance flights in coach so are very familiar with the space allotment seat comfort on airplanes.

How do the Amtrak reserved coach seats compare? Are they comfortable enough to sleep?

Thanks for any advice or assistance!

Edited by blue_hydrangea, 27 January 2008 - 01:35 PM.


#2 TransAtlantic

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 01:47 PM

Coach seats on long-distance trains are similar to (perhaps larger than) first-class airline seats; plenty of legroom, even for someone quite tall (I'm over 6ft3), and they recline pretty far, making it reasonable to sleep in.

#3 the_traveler

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 03:01 PM

I do most of my travels on Amtrak alone, so being cheap :D I normally travel in coach.

Coach travel on a long distance train (such as the Zephyr) is nothing like coach travel on a plane! Although not the same, sizewise (width and legroom) it could be compared to a business class seat on a plane! If you can sleep in your recliner at home watching TV, you can easily sleep in coach on the train. IMHO, I find it quite comfortable for sleeping.

As an aside, I personally do not spend much time in my seat during the day - especially on this segment. (I am in the Sightseer Lounge.) IMHO, the portion of this route between Denver and Grand Junction is the most scenic (current) route on Amtrak!
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#4 Trogdor

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 03:55 PM

The reference to first-class airline seats comes up regularly on this forum.

Yes, the legroom is generous on long-distance trains. Far better than airline coach legroom. The closes thing Amtrak has to airline first-class seats would be the seats in Acela First Class or the Club-Dinette business class cars. Plus, the standard for airline first class is much higher these days than it used to be (especially if you're flying long-distance).

I think someone on this forum once said that if your airline's first-class seats are similar to Amtrak coach seats, you're flying the wrong airline.

I've never measured, but the seats on Amtrak are probably two or three inches wider than a typical airline coach seat (but keep in mind that, unlike airlines, there are no armrests between Amtrak coach seats, which gives the impression of the seat being wider).
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#5 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 11:35 PM

The reference to first-class airline seats comes up regularly on this forum.

Yes, the legroom is generous on long-distance trains. Far better than airline coach legroom. The closes thing Amtrak has to airline first-class seats would be the seats in Acela First Class or the Club-Dinette business class cars. Plus, the standard for airline first class is much higher these days than it used to be (especially if you're flying long-distance).

I think someone on this forum once said that if your airline's first-class seats are similar to Amtrak coach seats, you're flying the wrong airline.

I've never measured, but the seats on Amtrak are probably two or three inches wider than a typical airline coach seat (but keep in mind that, unlike airlines, there are no armrests between Amtrak coach seats, which gives the impression of the seat being wider).


However, they have a ton of legroom. They recline pretty far, and they have a nice legrest, too. However, I'd suggest you go with a family Bedroom if you can afford it. They upgrade isn't per person, its a single accomodation charge. It also comes with all meals served during the time you are on the train for all three people. So you can subtract the price of the meals from the overall cost of the upgrade. Especially if you have a thing for flat iron steak. Its usually a pretty good deal. 7
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#6 Guest_blue_hydrangea_*

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 10:02 AM

I do most of my travels on Amtrak alone, so being cheap :D I normally travel in coach.

Coach travel on a long distance train (such as the Zephyr) is nothing like coach travel on a plane! Although not the same, sizewise (width and legroom) it could be compared to a business class seat on a plane! If you can sleep in your recliner at home watching TV, you can easily sleep in coach on the train. IMHO, I find it quite comfortable for sleeping.

As an aside, I personally do not spend much time in my seat during the day - especially on this segment. (I am in the Sightseer Lounge.) IMHO, the portion of this route between Denver and Grand Junction is the most scenic (current) route on Amtrak!


Thank you for sharing your experiences! I agree that it is spectacular between Denver and Grand Juntion! We moved to Northern Colorado just this last summer and I was awed by how picturesque it is! Imagine being able to enjoy that without having to worry about driving.

My teens are quite keen on taking this trip. We've travelled extensively by plane an no little about train travel in the US. What sort of facilities are available on board? I'm assuming there are toilets and washing up facilities. Should we bring blankets and things for sleeping? What do you recommend?

Thanks again!

#7 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:14 PM

Amtrak used to sell blankets, and before that they used to give them to passengers. I don't know if they still sell them.

In anycase, there is fantastic lounge onboard called the Sightseer lounge. Its the closet Amtrak comes to offering a dome car, and technically it is a form of dome car. You can get spectacular views from it, and I suggest strongly that you take advantage of it. You can also buy snacks, as well as both soft and hard beverages, from a snack bar on the lower floor of that car. Further, I also suggest you take advantage of the Dining Car which offers diner-style meals that, frankly, range from ok to pretty darned good. The dining car is not particularly cheap, although I wouldn't call it overpriced, either.

Check out this topic for an idea of the kind of food and quality of it. If you book a sleeper, you will get your meals included for all three passengers, but only pay one upgrade fee, which is why I personally think its a good deal.

Lastly, trains are a very social place, especially compared to a plane. Take advantage of it. I've met some pretty good, long term friends onboard Amtrak trains.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#8 AlanB

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:51 PM

Hydrangea,

I'd suggest reading over On Track On Line's Hints & Tips.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!



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