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#1 rile42

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:31 AM

I returned today from my 7 night Amtrak marathon that started in Cleveland and encompassed traveling the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, and the Lake Shore Limited. More on the trip will be in another post.
The reason for this is to know if anyone here has had or seen any troubles with the boarding agents at the gate in Chicago's Union Station. I have encountered and seen enough of a couple of those agents over the years that I go out of my way to use the Metro Lounge there, at an added expense that I don't normally need just to avoid those women. Unfortunately, it didn't work this time.
I was coming of a sleeper and connecting to the LSL but as a coach rider. I've done that before and get to board early as a user of the Metro Lounge. This time however, me and another woman, were escorted down to the platforms after the sleeper passengers but were told, nicely, to wait in the second waiting room and we would be escorted or allowed on the platform from there. After sitting, ignored, for 15 minutes while the boarding agent carried on a conversation with a maintenance worker, I went up and asked the person in charge how much longer it would be. Her comment was an indignant what was I doing in that waiting room. I told here we had been escorted from the Metro Lounge and were asked to wait there. She said, to go back, sit down and we would be told when to board. Later, she started over to the other waiting room to start allowing passengers to board. I stood up to get in the front of the line that was about to come in and she yelled across the room, in front of everyone, for me to take my seat. I told her I was just getting ready to get in line. Her comment was "no you weren't, you were heading for the platform". I guess another of her talents is mind reading. When I repeated that I was just getting ready to get in line, even though we were supposed to have boarded ahead of time she told me we were coach passengers and not entitled to anything of the kind. She then told me that there was a "misprint in the times table" concerning sleeper passengers riding coach in a subsequent trip being allowed to board early. In fact, she said its been a misprint for two years. I would love to find out if that is a true statement.
If I was wrong, then I accept that fact. But that woman was very rude and has no people skills at all. However, if I am right, I feel I should send a letter to the appropriate person concerning her behavior. She put a damper on what had been a very enjoyable experience extending over 5000 miles and 7 days. But, like I said, it's not the first time that I have seen such rudeness at that gate. I know it is a difficult job but as I've seen, they bring most of the trouble on themselves by playing little what my wife and I call "boarding ****s".
Any comments?
Routes traveled: Lake Shore Limited (many times, BOS and NYP routhes), Capitol Limited (many times), Cardinal, Pennsylvanian (CHI-NYP version), Twilight Shoreliner, Northeast Regionals, Empire Builder (Portland and Seattle), California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight

#2 Shawn

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:47 AM

My recommendation would be to write a letter to Amtrak and explain it. That's about all you can do!
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#3 AlanB

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:56 AM

Where in the TT does it say anything about coach passengers being allowed to board early, just because they are connecting from another train where they were in sleeper class? I don't recall ever seeing any such thing in the TT. So I believe that she's wrong in saying that in the first place.

It is however Amtrak policy to grant anyone who was in a sleeper, same day access to any First Class lounge. Typically and traditionally, that often does include early, priority boarding of the train in question. But in fact just being in the lounge regardless of how you got there doesn't guarantee early boarding for anyone. There is no early boarding of any train at NYP. And being in the lounge in Chicago doesn't guarantee early boarding of say a Hiawatha train.

All of that said, I have heard of coach pax who did get to board early with the sleeping car pax out of the lounge. But again, I've never heard or seen anything that guaranteed coach pax the right to board early if they were in the lounge.

As for the attendants, this board and others are littered with complaints about the bad attitudes of some of those gate agents. This isn't something new at all. There was no reason for her to snip at you for trying to ask a question, and certainly no reason for her to yell at you until and unless you were approaching the door leading to the track. Even then she should have politely asked you to return to your seat, only resorting to yelling once you were through the door and on your way to the tracks.

I hope that you got her name, and I hope that you report her. The only way that Amtrak can rid itself of workers like this is if people report them.
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#4 rile42

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:18 AM

Alan, your response to the TT question was exactly what I had thought as well. I'm sure the woman was trying to intimidate me. She certainly entimidated the woman that was in the same situation.
My comment concering boarding early like that was based on prior experience as well as what was explained to me in the Metro Lounge when I registered. I chuckled when I read your response about NYP. I've been there and know what it's like to stand staring at that big board waiting for a train to pop up and then the mad rush to that gate.
Unfortunately, I didn't get her name but I'm sure that Amtrak if they wanted could easily find out who it was based on the work schedule at the time.
It is just so unforunate as if you see my other post, the entire trip was so very enjoyable.
As you so eloquently pointed out, there are many incidences concerning that particular problem that have been addressed. In fact, one of the woman that used to cause alot of problems there seems to have been reassigned or something. I've not seen her for a couple of years.
At least, they currently show what gate the trains will be boarding from. That takes alot of the stress out of that process.
Routes traveled: Lake Shore Limited (many times, BOS and NYP routhes), Capitol Limited (many times), Cardinal, Pennsylvanian (CHI-NYP version), Twilight Shoreliner, Northeast Regionals, Empire Builder (Portland and Seattle), California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight

#5 sky12065

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:20 AM

I returned today from my 7 night Amtrak marathon that started in Cleveland and encompassed traveling the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, and the Lake Shore Limited. More on the trip will be in another post.
The reason for this is to know if anyone here has had or seen any troubles with the boarding agents at the gate in Chicago's Union Station. I have encountered and seen enough of a couple of those agents over the years that I go out of my way to use the Metro Lounge there, at an added expense that I don't normally need just to avoid those women. Unfortunately, it didn't work this time.
I was coming of a sleeper and connecting to the LSL but as a coach rider. I've done that before and get to board early as a user of the Metro Lounge. This time however, me and another woman, were escorted down to the platforms after the sleeper passengers but were told, nicely, to wait in the second waiting room and we would be escorted or allowed on the platform from there. After sitting, ignored, for 15 minutes while the boarding agent carried on a conversation with a maintenance worker, I went up and asked the person in charge how much longer it would be. Her comment was an indignant what was I doing in that waiting room. I told here we had been escorted from the Metro Lounge and were asked to wait there. She said, to go back, sit down and we would be told when to board. Later, she started over to the other waiting room to start allowing passengers to board. I stood up to get in the front of the line that was about to come in and she yelled across the room, in front of everyone, for me to take my seat. I told her I was just getting ready to get in line. Her comment was "no you weren't, you were heading for the platform". I guess another of her talents is mind reading. When I repeated that I was just getting ready to get in line, even though we were supposed to have boarded ahead of time she told me we were coach passengers and not entitled to anything of the kind. She then told me that there was a "misprint in the times table" concerning sleeper passengers riding coach in a subsequent trip being allowed to board early. In fact, she said its been a misprint for two years. I would love to find out if that is a true statement.
If I was wrong, then I accept that fact. But that woman was very rude and has no people skills at all. However, if I am right, I feel I should send a letter to the appropriate person concerning her behavior. She put a damper on what had been a very enjoyable experience extending over 5000 miles and 7 days. But, like I said, it's not the first time that I have seen such rudeness at that gate. I know it is a difficult job but as I've seen, they bring most of the trouble on themselves by playing little what my wife and I call "boarding ****s".
Any comments?

Rile, the following is quoted from the Amtrak website: "In Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounges, First Class passengers with a same-day ticket enjoy the following amenities:" That statement SEEMS to support that you should have been with other coach passengers and not in the metro lounge because you didn't have "same-day" First Class or sleeper passenger tickets. But are things always what they seem to be? Who knows here especially since the wording I quoted could also be considered as ambigious and open to another interpertation!

Now does what I've stated mean that the agent(s) should have treated you as you claim they did? IMHO the answer is an overwhelming NO! If I were you, I would write a concise but factual accounting (naming names if you have them) of exactly what happened and sent it to Customer Relations. Then basicly forget the bad experience and replace it by starting to dreaming of your next Amtrak adventure. That's what I did last year and even took it as far as dreaming about a trip each year through 2012! :)

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#6 GG-1

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:59 AM

Aloha

I am putting this at the top as I think you were entitled to use the lounge as i think you meant by "coming of a sleeper" to mean same day arrival. If my interpretation is correct, then sky's quote says you should be in the lounge. If I misunderstand then what he said below is correct.


I returned today from my 7 night Amtrak marathon that started in Cleveland and encompassed traveling the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, and the Lake Shore Limited. More on the trip will be in another post.
The reason for this is to know if anyone here has had or seen any troubles with the boarding agents at the gate in Chicago's Union Station. I have encountered and seen enough of a couple of those agents over the years that I go out of my way to use the Metro Lounge there, at an added expense that I don't normally need just to avoid those women. Unfortunately, it didn't work this time.
I was coming of a sleeper and connecting to the LSL but as a coach rider. I've done that before and get to board early as a user of the Metro Lounge. This time however, me and another woman, were escorted down to the platforms after the sleeper passengers but were told, nicely, to wait in the second waiting room and we would be escorted or allowed on the platform from there. After sitting, ignored, for 15 minutes while the boarding agent carried on a conversation with a maintenance worker, I went up and asked the person in charge how much longer it would be. Her comment was an indignant what was I doing in that waiting room. I told here we had been escorted from the Metro Lounge and were asked to wait there. She said, to go back, sit down and we would be told when to board. Later, she started over to the other waiting room to start allowing passengers to board. I stood up to get in the front of the line that was about to come in and she yelled across the room, in front of everyone, for me to take my seat. I told her I was just getting ready to get in line. Her comment was "no you weren't, you were heading for the platform". I guess another of her talents is mind reading. When I repeated that I was just getting ready to get in line, even though we were supposed to have boarded ahead of time she told me we were coach passengers and not entitled to anything of the kind. She then told me that there was a "misprint in the times table" concerning sleeper passengers riding coach in a subsequent trip being allowed to board early. In fact, she said its been a misprint for two years. I would love to find out if that is a true statement.
If I was wrong, then I accept that fact. But that woman was very rude and has no people skills at all. However, if I am right, I feel I should send a letter to the appropriate person concerning her behavior. She put a damper on what had been a very enjoyable experience extending over 5000 miles and 7 days. But, like I said, it's not the first time that I have seen such rudeness at that gate. I know it is a difficult job but as I've seen, they bring most of the trouble on themselves by playing little what my wife and I call "boarding nazis".
Any comments?

Rile, the following is quoted from the Amtrak website: "In Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounges, First Class passengers with a same-day ticket enjoy the following amenities:" That statement SEEMS to support that you should have been with other coach passengers and not in the metro lounge because you didn't have "same-day" First Class or sleeper passenger tickets. But are things always what they seem to be? Who knows here especially since the wording I quoted could also be considered as ambigious and open to another interpertation!

Now does what I've stated mean that the agent(s) should have treated you as you claim they did? IMHO the answer is an overwhelming NO! If I were you, I would write a concise but factual accounting (naming names if you have them) of exactly what happened and sent it to Customer Relations. Then basicly forget the bad experience and replace it by starting to dreaming of your next Amtrak adventure. That's what I did last year and even took it as far as dreaming about a trip each year through 2012! :)


Eric aka GG-1, Aloha, Mahalo = Thanks

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#7 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:37 AM

this is what it says in the TT for the LSL

although train 48 departs at 10PM customers may board at 8PM. sleeping car passengers are invited to a welcome aboard reception for complementary snacks and beverages in the dining car. ALSO COACH CLASS PASSENGERS MAY PERCUSS FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN THE LOUNGE.


so if its been a misprint for 2 years WHY DON'T THEY CORRECT IT.

Edited by KISS_ALIVE, 02 March 2009 - 02:39 AM.


#8 Neil_M

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:27 AM

ALSO COACH CLASS PASSENGERS MAY PERCUSS FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN THE LOUNGE.[/u]


so if its been a misprint for 2 years WHY DON'T THEY CORRECT IT.


Perhaps it has not been drummed in to them! :lol:

#9 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:57 AM

ALSO COACH CLASS PASSENGERS MAY PERCUSS FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN THE LOUNGE.[/u]


so if its been a misprint for 2 years WHY DON'T THEY CORRECT IT.


Perhaps it has not been drummed in to them! :lol:


gets a drum and drum sticks. Im going to Chicago to do some drumming :D

#10 Everydaymatters

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 07:08 AM

The System Time Table definitely states "customers may begin boarding at 8:00 p.m.". It seems that too often Amtrak personnel use their own interpretations of what is written and too often put a damper on vacations that have been saved for.

I'll never, ever understand why Amtrak allows this to continue. If Disney can manage volumes of people with courtesy and respect, why can't Amtrak?

I have boarded with sleeper passengers from the Metro lounge in Chicago when I had an Acela pass. There was no problem. Sorry this happened to you.
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#11 had8ley

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:00 AM

ALSO COACH CLASS PASSENGERS MAY PERCUSS FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN THE LOUNGE.[/u]


so if its been a misprint for 2 years WHY DON'T THEY CORRECT IT.


Perhaps it has not been drummed in to them! :lol:


gets a drum and drum sticks. Im going to Chicago to do some drumming :D

While your beating that drum kindly ask Amtrak just what has happened, or should I say not happened to our "Weakly Specials." Grrrr...if only I lived in Chicago :angry:

#12 MattW

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 08:37 AM

Should have asked if she was the janitor at the [unstaffed] Gainesville, GA station :P
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#13 lepearso

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:00 AM

Of the dozens of times I've been through CUS, I had only ONE bad experience with an employee. I got his name and contacted Customer Service through the 800 number. The next time I went through CUS, that same employee was there and my interaction with him was much better than the time before. So, I guess it worked.

I have heard complaints on "a few ladies" at CUS being rude and abrasive with passengers. Passengers need to keep reporting each and every incident until something gives.

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#14 sky12065

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:23 AM

The System Time Table definitely states "customers may begin boarding at 8:00 p.m.". It seems that too often Amtrak personnel use their own interpretations of what is written and too often put a damper on vacations that have been saved for.

You are absolutely correct that the Time Table (on page 69) states "customers may begin boarding at 8:00 p.m.." However, the key word in that statement is "MAY"! Using the term "may" does not mean that passengers "will" board or "may board on request or demand" and IMO the ambiguity in the usage of the term "may" makes the meaning in you statement "Amtrak personnel use their own interpretations" a bit moot since the ambiguity does support Amtrak's right - at their discretion - to NOT board at 8:00PM as stated.

Aloha

I am putting this at the top as I think you were entitled to use the lounge as i think you meant by "coming of a sleeper" to mean same day arrival. If my interpretation is correct, then sky's quote says you should be in the lounge. If I misunderstand then what he said below is correct.

Having read post that followed and giving the subject more thought, I am convinced that what I said in my post was correct.

If you are traveling on the CZ as a sleeper passenger, you cease to be a sleeper passenger upon disembarking in Chicago. In having a coach ticket and not a sleeper ticket for the LSL you are a "coach" passenger on that given day and as such not entitled to usage of the Metro Lounge.

Having said that, if the lounge is less than half filled and looked pretty empty as it was when I awaited the LSL boarding last July, good customer service "should" dictate that the lounge attendants consider making an exception to that rule and permit a transferee from a sleeper into the room unless the lounge is expected to fill up shortly from an incoming train or trains. Common sense "should" prevail!

On the other hand, if the lounge is pretty full, good customer service "should" dictate that the lounge attendant deny entry to anyone who is not a "sleeper passenger" on the LSL or any other departing train. I have entered the lounge when there have been no seats available and it would not be right to be denied seating when seats are taken up by coach or non-sleeper passengers, especially when one is not able to stand for extended periods of time or needs to sit on non-seating furniture like has happened to me in prior trips.

Having been in the business of customer service for the last 23 years of my working life, I was taught by superiors that as a supervisor it was my duty to not only enforce the rules and laws we dealt with, but also to be an advocate for the customer and make exceptions where exceptions are warranted so long as I didn't break any laws or essential regulations in doing so. It's a tricky tight-rope to walk at times, but Amtrak personnel should be oriented and free to act in a similar manner.

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#15 MrFSS

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:30 AM

If you are traveling on the CZ as a sleeper passenger, you cease to be a sleeper passenger upon disembarking in Chicago. In having a coach ticket and not a sleeper ticket for the LSL you are a "coach" passenger on that given day and as such not entitled to usage of the Metro Lounge.


That is incorrect.

If you arrive as a sleeper passenger and will depart as a coach passenger you are still able to enter the lounge legally and board that coach with the sleeper car passengers from the lounge. I've done it a number of times. We arrived on the SWC last year and checked in the lounge and boarded the Cardinal as coach passengers way before all the other coach passengers boarded.

#16 sky12065

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:33 AM

Of the dozens of times I've been through CUS, I had only ONE bad experience with an employee. I got his name and contacted Customer Service through the 800 number. The next time I went through CUS, that same employee was there and my interaction with him was much better than the time before. So, I guess it worked.

I have heard complaints on "a few ladies" at CUS being rude and abrasive with passengers. Passengers need to keep reporting each and every incident until something gives.

I wouldn't necessarily count on the change in the agent's behavior being a result of your complaint. Changing employee behavior is a difficult thing to do and I would presume it was more of "having a bad day" situation on the first contact. However, you were absolute correct in reporting the incident. Reporting bad behavior helps Amtrak document employees for usage in counseling where improvement is needed or even to discipline or worse if it should eventually become necessary to do so.

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#17 wayman

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:34 AM

If you are traveling on the CZ as a sleeper passenger, you cease to be a sleeper passenger upon disembarking in Chicago. In having a coach ticket and not a sleeper ticket for the LSL you are a "coach" passenger on that given day and as such not entitled to usage of the Metro Lounge.


While I can't quote chapter and verse of the Amtrak rules, I tend to trust Alan to know "rules of lounge access" backwards and forwards, and I can't even begin to count the number of times he has said that "same day" has always meant "your departure date AND your arrival date (even if they are different dates, and whether or not you are continuing on by sleeper/first class)".

That being said, "having lounge access" is not the same as "guaranteed early boarding". And when there are only one or two coach passengers in the lounge and the lounge is hectic (as it always is in Chicago...), I can see how screw-ups can occur regarding what to do with those coach passengers. Still, firstly this must come up every single day even if it's only one or two passengers per day, so they should be very, very accustomed to this situation; and secondly, the rudeness with which they handled this particular situation (and many other situations, sadly) is absolutely inexcusable.

Edited by wayman, 02 March 2009 - 10:38 AM.

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#18 Neil_M

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:41 AM

You are absolutely correct that the Time Table (on page 69) states "customers may begin boarding at 8:00 p.m.." However, the key word in that statement is "MAY"! Using the term "may" does not mean that passengers "will" board or "may board on request or demand" and IMO the ambiguity in the usage of the term "may" makes the meaning in you statement "Amtrak personnel use their own interpretations" a bit moot since the ambiguity does support Amtrak's right - at their discretion - to NOT board at 8:00PM as stated.


I would imagine the use of the word 'may' indicates that you would have the choice to board at that time if it suited you. 'Will' board is an order, but if the option is there to board at 8pm then you can.
Obviously if there is a problem with the train and its not alongside the platform then you can't board, but as I see it the wording would leave the choice to the passenger.

#19 sky12065

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:49 AM

If you are traveling on the CZ as a sleeper passenger, you cease to be a sleeper passenger upon disembarking in Chicago. In having a coach ticket and not a sleeper ticket for the LSL you are a "coach" passenger on that given day and as such not entitled to usage of the Metro Lounge.


That is incorrect.

If you arrive as a sleeper passenger and will depart as a coach passenger you are still able to enter the lounge legally and board that coach with the sleeper car passengers from the lounge. I've done it a number of times. We arrived on the SWC last year and checked in the lounge and boarded the Cardinal as coach passengers way before all the other coach passengers boarded.

Happening routinely or otherwise doesn't necessiliary mean it's correct. But at the same time my thinking I'm correct in my opinion doesn't necessarily mean that I'm correct either. (See why I previously used the term ambigious?) But for now that is my opinion and I'm sticking by it, at least until the day I arrive at CUS as a sleeper passenger connecting to another train as a coach passenger! :unsure: :lol:

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#20 MrFSS

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 10:56 AM

If you are traveling on the CZ as a sleeper passenger, you cease to be a sleeper passenger upon disembarking in Chicago. In having a coach ticket and not a sleeper ticket for the LSL you are a "coach" passenger on that given day and as such not entitled to usage of the Metro Lounge.


While I can't quote chapter and verse of the Amtrak rules, I tend to trust Alan to know "rules of lounge access" backward and forward, and I can't even begin to count the number of times he has said that "same day" has always meant "your departure date AND your arrival date (even if they are different dates, and whether or not you are continuing on by sleeper/first class)".

That being said, "having lounge access" is not the same as "guaranteed early boarding". And when there are only one or two coach passengers in the lounge and the lounge is hectic (as it always is in Chicago...), I can see how screw-ups can occur regarding what to do with those coach passengers. Still, firstly this must come up every single day even if it's only one or two passengers per day, so they should be very, very accustomed to this situation; and secondly, the rudeness with which they handled this particular situation (and many other situations, sadly) is absolutely inexcusable.


You have access to the Chicago Lounge if you arrive as a sleeper passenger and depart as a coach passenger, or vice versa,

Once you are in the lounge there is no discrimination as to if you are a sleeper passenger or a coach passenger. When they announce the boarding of a certain train in the lounge, everyone goes out, sleeper and coach passengers. As you leave the lounge, en masse, no one there knows if you are a sleeper or coach passenger. When you get to the train is where the distinction is made.



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