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"Go back to your seats, or lose them"...


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#1 caravanman

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:06 AM

On one of my recent Amtrak long distance train rides, the Conductor announced at mid point that folk sitting in the sightseeing lounge car should return to their assigned seats. If they did not, their assigned seats would be given to other passengers boarding at the next stop.

No explanation for this was given, just the bare announcement, which was repeated more than once.

Given that passengers are supposed to have a seat reservation, how do they overbook the train?

Apart from the annoyance of giving up a good view, the "take it or leave it" attitude of the Conductor was not appreciated.

 

Ed.

 



#2 StanJazz

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 06:55 AM

Maybe the conductor had a group of friends boarding at the next stop who wanted a group of lounge seats.

 

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#3 Cho Cho Charlie

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:27 AM

No explanation for this was given, just the bare announcement, which was repeated more than once.


Why does the conductor have to extend their announcements with a reason or a justification? The trains are not run as a democracy, where passengers are given a chance to evaluate the request, and "vote" if they will comply or not.
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#4 Cho Cho Charlie

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:29 AM

Maybe the conductor had a group of friends boarding at the next stop who wanted a group of lounge seats.


Or attempting to rotate the people in the lounge, so that others get a fair chance to enjoy its views?
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#5 lo2e

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:55 AM

 

Maybe the conductor had a group of friends boarding at the next stop who wanted a group of lounge seats.


Or attempting to rotate the people in the lounge, so that others get a fair chance to enjoy its views?

 

 

This sounds plausible - I find it rather ironic that a frequent complaint on this board is when other people hog the seats in the SSL and PPC, but then when the conductor tries to have people "move along", it's wrong.  



#6 Maverickstation

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:00 AM

 

Or attempting to rotate the people in the lounge, so that others get a fair chance to enjoy its views?

 

 

Thats' what it sounds like to me, I will never forget a horrible triple had last September on The Downeaster with the great dome on it.

 

Announcements were made to rotate in and out so everyone could enjoy the experience, but alas a group of very socially stunted raisins took up residence and

would not move.

 

Two were actually reading books and claimed they wanted to keep their seats to show how high demand was for the dome.

 

They moved after I told them off, and got the conductor involved.

 

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#7 Bob Dylan

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:01 AM

So what's the purpose of the seat checks then?

Another case of "making up the rules" as you go along, even though the Conductor is in charge of the Train and probably was trying to get the "seat hogs" to give up their nests so others could enjoy the scenery.

There are no Reserved Seats in the SSL just like in the Ocean when it runs on Scheduled Amtrak Trains.
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#8 tricia

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:21 AM

 

 

Maybe the conductor had a group of friends boarding at the next stop who wanted a group of lounge seats.


Or attempting to rotate the people in the lounge, so that others get a fair chance to enjoy its views?

 

 

This sounds plausible - I find it rather ironic that a frequent complaint on this board is when other people hog the seats in the SSL and PPC, but then when the conductor tries to have people "move along", it's wrong.  

 

 

What's apparently "wrong" here is the conductor telling a great big fib, to accomplish --- what? We're just guessing here that the motive was to free up SSL seats. Even assuming that guess is correct, a good motive doesn't un-do the dishonesty.  For trains to run safely, conductors need to be trusted. Lying to passengers erodes that trust.

 

Now before anyone jumps on with examples of circumstances where a conductor needs to tell a lie: I'm not claiming that there's NEVER a good reason to lie. Just that there's a cost to it.



#9 v v

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:48 AM

Ed, was the train busier than usual and what section of what line was that on.

 

As Bob says above, what's the purpose of the seat checks then?



#10 MikefromCrete

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 08:54 AM

 

 

 

Maybe the conductor had a group of friends boarding at the next stop who wanted a group of lounge seats.


Or attempting to rotate the people in the lounge, so that others get a fair chance to enjoy its views?

 

 

This sounds plausible - I find it rather ironic that a frequent complaint on this board is when other people hog the seats in the SSL and PPC, but then when the conductor tries to have people "move along", it's wrong.  

 

 

What's apparently "wrong" here is the conductor telling a great big fib, to accomplish --- what? We're just guessing here that the motive was to free up SSL seats. Even assuming that guess is correct, a good motive doesn't un-do the dishonesty.  For trains to run safely, conductors need to be trusted. Lying to passengers erodes that trust.

 

Now before anyone jumps on with examples of circumstances where a conductor needs to tell a lie: I'm not claiming that there's NEVER a good reason to lie. Just that there's a cost to it.

 

 

I don't think there is any reason for a conductor to lie, particularly in a public announcement. There's no quicker way to loose your "authority" than by being caught in a lie. 



#11 caravanman

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:01 AM

The train was busy, I would have to look back at my diary to double check which line, but I am 90% sure it was the last day's run into Chicago on the Zephyr.

The purpose was not to give others a chance to sit in the lounge, there were some vacant seats.

It was as stated, they did not seem to have enough coach seats for passengrers boarding at the stations ahead.

My query is simply how this happens, the rude Conductors attitude was secondary.

 

 

 

No explanation for this was given, just the bare announcement, which was repeated more than once.


Why does the conductor have to extend their announcements with a reason or a justification? The trains are not run as a democracy, where passengers are given a chance to evaluate the request, and "vote" if they will comply or not.

 

 

It is not about democracy, simply the first time I have heard such an ultimatum about loosing my own reserved and paid for seat, if it was not occupied? Most folk would expect some details. I guess sheep would just follow orders though...

 

Ed


Edited by caravanman, 16 July 2017 - 09:02 AM.


#12 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:02 AM

 

No explanation for this was given, just the bare announcement, which was repeated more than once.


Why does the conductor have to extend their announcements with a reason or a justification? The trains are not run as a democracy, where passengers are given a chance to evaluate the request, and "vote" if they will comply or not.

 

 

They will "vote" by deciding whether or not to ride the train again. Then again, it is a monopoly, ride the train(s) and deal with Amtrak's crap or take some other form of transportation. 

 

I know at the end of trips they close off the lounge for cleaning. I don't think they close it any other time (they may let the lounge car attendants have a break where no food/drink is available but riders can stay in the lounge).

 

If the purpose is to allow other people to use the lounge they can always just tell passengers other people want to sit in the cars and to give them a turn. I don't remember ever being asked to leave the lounge car for that reason and I was on the CZ where many people want to see the scenery from the SSL. If the purpose is to see what seats are available for incoming passengers, then that's what the seat checks are for. If the conductors/staff aren't keeping track of this, that's their problem, not the passengers.

 

I almost feel like I'd rather "lose my seat" then, especially if I'm leaving the train that same day (and if they said I had to sleep in the lounge car for a night or two, I'd probably do it). 


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#13 caravanman

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:24 AM

I think that Philly Amtrak Fan has probably the right answer, the Conductor had not correctly kept tabs on who was sitting where...

I went back to the lounge later on,and it was still only half full, so they had seated the new passengers in their own proper coach seats.

 

Ed.



#14 Karl1459

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:48 AM

Amtrak does overbook. I ridden the CS where the SSL was standing room only PDX-EUG and no empty coach seats. Also 2 years ago where approximately 30 travelers were directed to the SSL ESM to WFH, all coach seats full.

 

In the past on this forum there have been lively debates for vs against seat assignments. In the event of the coach attendant or conductor losing control of seating, due to overbooking or not assigning seats, not recording assigned seats, etc, passengers boarding are going to pick the first "empty" seat, conveniently ignoring a seat check. So a conductor faced with a "reaction mode" event may have the limited option to prevent seat fights of warning the SSL group "use it or lose it" in an effort to free up the SSL space for pax they do not have coach seats for.

 

Remember that one of the advantages of railroad passenger service is the ability to absorb a limited number of customers than seats, this is a consequence.



#15 railiner

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:21 AM

Amtrak does overbook. I ridden the CS where the SSL was standing room only PDX-EUG and no empty coach seats. Also 2 years ago where approximately 30 travelers were directed to the SSL ESM to WFH, all coach seats full.

 

In the past on this forum there have been lively debates for vs against seat assignments. In the event of the coach attendant or conductor losing control of seating, due to overbooking or not assigning seats, not recording assigned seats, etc, passengers boarding are going to pick the first "empty" seat, conveniently ignoring a seat check. So a conductor faced with a "reaction mode" event may have the limited option to prevent seat fights of warning the SSL group "use it or lose it" in an effort to free up the SSL space for pax they do not have coach seats for.

 

Remember that one of the advantages of railroad passenger service is the ability to absorb a limited number of customers than seats, this is a consequence.

I agree with this....the conductor has probably experienced this happening again and again, where boarding passengers looking for empty seats simply ignore the seat checks.  The conductor doesn't want to have to do his job as a "policeman", and enforce the rule's if the proper owner later returns and finds his seat occupied by a newcomer.  Some people politely comply, while others are belligerent, and want to fight over it...

I know...it's part of his job...but still.....


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#16 KmH

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:15 AM

It was my understanding coach car attendants, not the Conductor, are responsible for keeping an updated chart of occupied seats.

I've seen TA-C with chart in hand noting changes after stops.

 

I've seen Conductors walking through the coach cars looking at the seat slips before and after stops, but I've never seen them updating the seating chart.


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#17 the_traveler

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:32 AM

If it was to rotate those in the SSL, then yes I agree those seated there for the last 16 hours should "move on". But how does the Conductor know who was there for 16 hours and who just sat down 2 minutes ago?:huh: The announcement was not "those in the SSL more than 10 hours go back to your seats", I understand it was just "(everyone) go back to your seats (even if you were there only 10 minutes)"!

Sounds like a power trip to me.
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#18 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:03 PM

I've ridden the zephyr and Starlight in busy holiday seasons and have no concept for the seat hog problem. I've seen the SSL fill up for the Rockies... That's it. After the Rockies it clears out again. Just relax and let someone enjoy the lounge. If they are hogging extra seats... Like setting personal items next to them and thereby taking up 2 seats or something... Sure I get it.

Ditto with the coveted purple chairs in the PPC. Just wait for someone to leave... All 8 people can't sit there forever.

As for the announcement itself... It sounds totally out of line. If there was a legit reason, that reason should be explained in a professional way.

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#19 Skyline

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:44 PM

I would guess a complaint, or inquiry, to Amtrak Customer Relations might yield an answer if done in a timely manner after the incident (within a few days). If not, the issue can be escalated by the passenger.

 

I can think of several reasons, though less likely, in addition to those already mentioned as possibilities:

 

1) A coach somewhere in the consist was about to be bad ordered, and its passengers would need to be moved to other coaches. Unless everyone was occupying their assigned seats, someone could conceivably get bumped.

 

2) A last minute group was boarding at the next stop, and Amtrak wanted to accommodate them together which would mean moving others around. If existing passengers weren't in their seats such a process would be like herding cats.

 

3) There had been some administrative bungle involving missing paperwork so the conductor wanted to clean that up. Much easier with everyone in their seats.

 

But I agree--rotating out the SSL would be my first guess. Possibly combined with a conductor on an ego trip.



#20 A Voice

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:59 PM

I'm not claiming that there's NEVER a good reason to lie. Just that there's a cost to it.

 

There is indeed never a good reason to lie.  Period.  

 

 

Proverbs 12:22  "Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight"

 

 

I think that Philly Amtrak Fan has probably the right answer, the Conductor had not correctly kept tabs on who was sitting where.

 

If they had indeed lost track of which seats were supposed to be occupied - as opposed to which actually were - and had a large number boarding down the line, such a request starts to make sense.  I'be boarded trains before only to find my assigned seat already occupied; The seating chart was correct, but someone had moved from their assigned location to a pair of empty seats.  






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