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Seat Assignments?


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#1 Railfan83

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:44 PM

Okay, I have completed my first round of Amtrak Travel and had a question. While in KCY waiting for the westbound Southwest Chief I was talking to a gentleman who mentioned that he was assigned a seat when he boarded his first segment of travel, sorry forgot the details. He wanted to compare tickets after I mentioned that I was not aware of any seat being assigned, our tickets were identical in information. When we boarded the Southwest Chief heading toward LA I arrived and the attendant asked our destination, I gave him mine of Hutchinson, KS and was told to board, the gentleman behind me gave his of Lamar, CO and was told to sit in seat 3 in the next car. Why would some passengers be assigned a seat? I thought that on Amtrak you didn't reserve a seat you reserved a train? I am curious to know why he was assigned a seat.

#2 GG-1

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:19 PM

Okay, I have completed my first round of Amtrak Travel and had a question. While in KCY waiting for the westbound Southwest Chief I was talking to a gentleman who mentioned that he was assigned a seat when he boarded his first segment of travel, sorry forgot the details. He wanted to compare tickets after I mentioned that I was not aware of any seat being assigned, our tickets were identical in information. When we boarded the Southwest Chief heading toward LA I arrived and the attendant asked our destination, I gave him mine of Hutchinson, KS and was told to board, the gentleman behind me gave his of Lamar, CO and was told to sit in seat 3 in the next car. Why would some passengers be assigned a seat? I thought that on Amtrak you didn't reserve a seat you reserved a train? I am curious to know why he was assigned a seat.

Aloha

I am sure the attendant was putting everyone going to Lamar, CO together so to only open one door apon Arrival, They must do something right the SWC has an excellent OTP.

Eric aka GG-1, Aloha, Mahalo = Thanks

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#3 Guest_Guest_*

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:38 PM

Why would some passengers be assigned a seat? I thought that on Amtrak you didn't reserve a seat you reserved a train? I am curious to know why he was assigned a seat.


Amtrak doesn't pre-assign seats at the time of booking. However, car attendants can and do assign seats upon boarding for a variety of reasons. Attendants have lists of passengers, with their destination, and attendants might want to sit groups of passengers traveling together, or group passengers according to destination. It depends on what kind of control attendants believe they need, especially dealing with full trains.

#4 Upstate

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:04 PM

I wish they wouldn't do this. I hate it when they put everyone together and there is a coach that is almost empty all for the sake of grouping.
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#5 the_traveler

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:10 PM

As others hvve mentiond, they try to group pasengers together - and open only certain door. Some platforms are short, and may require a double stop otherwise. Or you may be assgned a certain seat at certain stations (sch as DEN and PDX). I have also been assigned a seat at WAS for the Crescent. Or you may be assigned specific seat if nearly all other seats are filled and you board enroute.
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#6 Dan O

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 08:21 PM

Okay, I have completed my first round of Amtrak Travel and had a question. While in KCY waiting for the westbound Southwest Chief I was talking to a gentleman who mentioned that he was assigned a seat when he boarded his first segment of travel, sorry forgot the details. He wanted to compare tickets after I mentioned that I was not aware of any seat being assigned, our tickets were identical in information. When we boarded the Southwest Chief heading toward LA I arrived and the attendant asked our destination, I gave him mine of Hutchinson, KS and was told to board, the gentleman behind me gave his of Lamar, CO and was told to sit in seat 3 in the next car. Why would some passengers be assigned a seat? I thought that on Amtrak you didn't reserve a seat you reserved a train? I am curious to know why he was assigned a seat.


Oops..edited to add my post.

I rode the SWC from LA to Chicago and back last summer. Both ways the seats were assigned based on destination. I was told that one car had folks that were getting off the train late at night or early in the morning. There would be less disturbance if all folks that get off in the middle of the night were in the same area. I think it made it easier for the coach attendant to do his job. On the way back to CA two folks got on that were getting off in Needles and he and the conductor were looking for them for quite a while. They eventually found them but there was some work done trying to locate them. I am guessing they got on and just found a seat on their own before going to perhaps the lounge car. Anyway, it made a lot of sense to me once I saw how the coach attendant did his job. By the way, I thought both attendants did a very good job.

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Edited by Dan O, 17 March 2009 - 08:26 PM.

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#7 rtabern

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 08:43 PM

The Southwest Chief is the only train I have ever seen any conductor assign seats on. Sometimes I've rode #4 from Galesburg to Chicago and have been assigned a seat... even after telling the coach attendant I was planning to grab lunch in the diner right away and then just sit in the lounge car for the rest of the time in to Chicago.

I guess I can see why they might assign seats... but I don't think it should be done. Assigning cars seems fine if you only want to open 1 door at a smaller stop, but assigning seats sucks. I always get a sleeper on overnight trips, but would be pretty pissed if I went coach and got an aisle seat all the way from CHI-LAX. (I like the scenery and sometimes need to be near the window for my GPS to work)

#8 the_traveler

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:19 AM

After arriving into PDX on the CS in a roomette, I decided to take a ride and continue to OLW in coach. In PDX, they assign seats before you board. When I got to my assigned seat, it was on the aisle. But the worse part was THERE WAS NO OUTLET! :o

I would HATE to be told before I board "to sit in seat __" and find no power! :angry:
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#9 AlanB

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 01:04 AM

After arriving into PDX on the CS in a roomette, I decided to take a ride and continue to OLW in coach. In PDX, they assign seats before you board. When I got to my assigned seat, it was on the aisle. But the worse part was THERE WAS NO OUTLET! :o

I would HATE to be told before I board "to sit in seat __" and find no power! :angry:


Then you had best not travel in coach much, at least on Superliner equipped trains, as probably 85% to 90% of the coaches have not yet been equipped with outlets at each seat.
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#10 Long Train Runnin'

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:29 AM

After arriving into PDX on the CS in a roomette, I decided to take a ride and continue to OLW in coach. In PDX, they assign seats before you board. When I got to my assigned seat, it was on the aisle. But the worse part was THERE WAS NO OUTLET! :o

I would HATE to be told before I board "to sit in seat __" and find no power! :angry:


Then you had best not travel in coach much, at least on Superliner equipped trains, as probably 85% to 90% of the coaches have not yet been equipped with outlets at each seat.


Are there still any Amfleets with out power at every seat? Or have they got most of the cars refurbed?
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#11 AlanB

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:56 AM

After arriving into PDX on the CS in a roomette, I decided to take a ride and continue to OLW in coach. In PDX, they assign seats before you board. When I got to my assigned seat, it was on the aisle. But the worse part was THERE WAS NO OUTLET! :o

I would HATE to be told before I board "to sit in seat __" and find no power! :angry:


Then you had best not travel in coach much, at least on Superliner equipped trains, as probably 85% to 90% of the coaches have not yet been equipped with outlets at each seat.


Are there still any Amfleets with out power at every seat? Or have they got most of the cars refurbed?


There is still a handful of AMF I's that don't have outlets at every seat, but they are in a minority. I'm not sure where we stand on the AMF II long distance coaches.
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#12 x-press

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:46 AM

Personally, I LOVE assigned seating, and think it should be explored, especially in first class, on the corridor.

While I, too, would prefer a window seat, electrical outlet, and perhaps two seats to myself, the reality is that not everyone can have this on anything approaching a full train. If there is one thing I HATE about coach travel, it is getting on a crowded train and having to go car by car asking "is this seat taken?, is this seat taken?, can you move that bag" over and over again (yes, I know what a seat check is, but they can be very misleading).

Now, I agree that stuffing people on top of each other on a near-empty train isn't the way to go, but that's due to car attendants not doing as good of a job as they should. Someday, perhaps we'll be able to choose seats online, as is done with airlines.

#13 Steve4031

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:00 AM

I've said this before. Having an attendant power trip over seat assignments is not the way to do it. I resent being the one of the first people in line having waited and stood for an hour and then being assigned an aisle seat because I am traveling solo, and they want to hold all of the other seats for people who came later and are traveling together. I would gladly pay 5 to 10 dollars to have a seat reservation like in Europe that guarnatees a window seat. Thus by planning ahead I can get what I want. Those who don't get their act together, and don't have seat reservations, tough luck. The system works fine in Europe, and would work ok here too.

#14 Railfan83

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 11:04 AM

Thanks for the replies. It did make since now that I think about it on having everyone sit in the same car. It appeared all those getting off in Hut where in the same car as I heard the conductor mention to the Attendant good we have all four while waiting to detrain. I don't mind the car assgnment but seating, no thank you, unless its done like the airlines where you can reserved window or aisle. The Texas Eagle was packed Friday night and had a hard time finding a seat while the SWC seemed to be less crowded with a selection of seats, but overheard the conductor mention the train was full, maybe it filled up later down the line.

#15 AlanB

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:07 PM

Someday, perhaps we'll be able to choose seats online, as is done with airlines.


Actually that day came and went about 8 years ago. When Acela was first introduced, one could indeed go online, pull up a diagram of the First Class car, and pick the seat that you wanted.

Sadly it only lasted about 6 months or so. :(
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#16 Philzy

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 01:25 PM

Okay, so last week I was actually thinking about this topic and debating on posting a thread, now i don't have to!

I guess my question is why doesn’t Amtrak adopt a system to that of DB of Germany. Basiclly, from what I remember (it’s been a few years since I made a trip across the pond) if you make your reservations in advance you’ll get a seat assignment before you board, sometimes at the time of booking. If you book the same day or a day in advance you are free to take any open seat.

Here’s where it gets interesting and smart though: at each seat it lists when and where the seat is reserved. IE, if you were riding on the Germanys DB ICE from Frankfurt to say Freiburg, you may see that a seat is reserved from Düsseldorf to Mannheim and then again Offenburg to Baden-Baden. Meaning that there would only be a few times in between stations where the seat could be used, yet when in between the reserved cities the seat is open for use and you know you must move.

Hitting closer to home (and since we have longer distance trains) an example of doing this in the US could be say on the Crescent Northbound, a seat would have a listing on the overhead or by the window showing the seat reserved from New Orleans to Atlanta and then again reserved from Charlottesville to Philadelphia. Thus anyone getting a last minute ticket could sit in any of the “reserved” seats from Atlanta to Charlottesville and if the Cresent was allowed to pick up then again use the seat from Philly to New York.

Does anyone think that this type of thing would work? In using this line of thinking with reservations wouldn’t it become prudent to allow long distance trains to pick up passengers North of DC? Actually that’s prob a whole ‘nother thread & I haven’t checked but it’s prob been discussed at length? Back to the topic, I guess I have a hard time understanding why there is no “on-line seat selection.” It’s not as if the technology isn’t there to support it and it sure as heck would make the lives of the car attendants easier… Is it me or would a little organization here really help out?

I know I keep going back to DB of Germany but I was also just remembering that on each platform it showed a map of the long distance trains, where the 1st and 2nd cars were as well as the diners in relation to where the train would park on the platform. Then you knew where to stand. Maybe Amtrak could do something similar? Maybe input the car numbers into peoples reservations making them easier to find?

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#17 Ispolkom

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:32 PM

I've said this before. Having an attendant power trip over seat assignments is not the way to do it. I resent being the one of the first people in line having waited and stood for an hour and then being assigned an aisle seat because I am traveling solo, and they want to hold all of the other seats for people who came later and are traveling together.


Oh, but I'm always pleased when I get on in St. Paul or Minot or some other intermediate spot and my wife and I can sit together. That's a coach attendent who gets a tip. You see, where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit.

#18 Guest_Tony_*

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:12 PM

Does anyone think that this type of thing would work?


Sorry, but IMHO it would be worse.

With assigned seats comes a rigidity. For example, seat 14A, in car 02, looked really nice on our computer's screen. However, once on board you find the previous occupant managed to spill his coke on the seat just before they de-trained. There is a guy who smells like he hasn't seen soap for 7 weeks in seat 14B. In seat 15A is a kid who thinks that the only relief from boredom is kicking the seat in front of him. In 13A is a nice woman, who loves to share her renditions of Broadway musicals of the 1940's.

And there are you, in your assigned seat, 14A. And with no power outlet either. :D

Just to mention it, assigned rooms on sleepers is somewhat better in that walls and doors tend to isolate you a bit from the other passengers.

#19 PaulM

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:31 PM

I guess my question is why doesn’t Amtrak adopt a system to that of DB of Germany. Basiclly, from what I remember (it’s been a few years since I made a trip across the pond) if you make your reservations in advance you’ll get a seat assignment before you board, sometimes at the time of booking. If you book the same day or a day in advance you are free to take any open seat.

You've pretty much described the system with one exception. Whether or not you have a reserved seat or not does not depend on when you booked the ticket, but whether you paid a very small additional charge. A ticket only gets you on the train where you can sit in any unreserved seat or the little (Murphy) benches that snap out from the wall, or stand.

I wouldn't be surprised that the latest equipment would have electronic reservation displays on the seats. But most Intercity's and Eurocity's still have paper computer printouts placed inside a transparent plastic holder. I'm sure personnel would have to go through the train before departure placing the right printout in the right holder. Because of this, I'm not sure reservations could be made once the train departed. The problem this would cause for Amtrak LD trains is obvious.

#20 Steve4031

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:59 PM

I've said this before. Having an attendant power trip over seat assignments is not the way to do it. I resent being the one of the first people in line having waited and stood for an hour and then being assigned an aisle seat because I am traveling solo, and they want to hold all of the other seats for people who came later and are traveling together.


Oh, but I'm always pleased when I get on in St. Paul or Minot or some other intermediate spot and my wife and I can sit together. That's a coach attendent who gets a tip. You see, where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit.


I am primarily referring to people getting on at the same time I am in Chicago (which is my home station). I now book sleepers to avoid seat assignment roulette in coach. Plus with the demise of heritage fleet, I don't really like coach on overnight trips anymore anyway.

If someone is getting on in at an intermediate station, that would probably be a different car/situation than me.

In response to the suggestion about using the European system. Great!!! It would provide more jobs, and more revenue for Amtrak. Or keep the attendant from being the bad guy.


As far as the concern about the seat being soiled, or spoiled by unpleasant neighbors, you run the same risk under today's system because the attendant will usually not let you switch. Besides, by the time you fight the stream of boarding passengers to get back to the attendant on the platform, all of the available seats would be taken. Been there and done that one too. LOL



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