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How is Coach on Amtrak Trains ?


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#21 Lonestar648

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 01:29 PM

Age makes all the difference to many, because our bodies can't take the same environment it did years ago.  I used to camp just lying on the ground with a cover, ride in coach, train and plane, across the country, but today, it is all different.  If one is already accustom to Sleeper Class, to go by Coach during the busy season, may be extremely rough and far from enjoyable.  If you can sleep in Coach on an airplane then you ought to be able to get a few hours on the train.  Me, not only am I not sleeping over night on the plane (i.e. FAI - SLC), I am enduring the torture of the plane's seat is doing to my body.  



#22 GBNorman

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 04:42 PM

Despite being relatively spacious I find Amtrak coach service to be surprisingly uncomfortable for sleeping.  Amtrak coach seats also have no armrests or other dividers between passengers, so if you're traveling solo you'll end up sleeping "with" whoever happens to be seated next to you in Amtrak's bizarre reclining loveseat style contraption.  That's a huge turnoff for me personally.

I'm at a loss to know why Amtrak resists having the center armrests quite prevalent in any airline class. They do a good job of defining "your space, my space".

The A-I's were delivered with them; while subsequent refurbings reduced the seating on such from 84 to 72, why that "generosity" had to result in the removal of the armrests escapes me.

I guess that youngsters and others who wish to be consensually "intimate" with their seatmate are happy to have 'em gone, others are not.

But even if Amtrak had armrests fleet wide, I would not rescind my recommendation to Mr. Ken, who is accustomed to Sleeper, to consider Coach for a discretionary journey.

#23 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 11:38 PM

It's all a question as to whether you can afford a roomette/bedroom or not. Those who have money to burn or have accumulated enough points can talk about how bad coach travel are. Others don't have the option of roomettes or don't think they are worth the money/cost. I went round trip coast to coast on coach and I had no problem with coach travel at all.


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#24 JRR

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 08:28 AM

My wife and I recently traveled from Deerfield Beach (DFB), to Tampa and back on the Silver Star by coach. Who would ever take such a short trip in a sleeper?

The experience on the trip to Tampa would temp me, however. There was a young woman in the seat behind us with a four month old little girl. The baby slept the whole way without a peep! I can't imagine how as her mother yelled ( talking loudly wouldn't aptly describe it) into her cell phone four four hours.

The first two hours she was yelling at her baby's father (her words without the expletives). Every other word was either MF or F and concerned her baby's father's exploits with her sister and other friends (in explicit detail) and her feelings towards him.

After she finally hung up, she then proceeded to call her sister and other friends and for the next two hours regaled them with the same conversation.

Needless to say the entire car was aghast during this time. Where was the car attendant during this whole time, you might ask? Sitting in the back row ignoring it all. She did make an appearance as we backed into the Tampa station to tell everyone to put their trash into the receptacle at the front of the car.

The final act by the woman behinds, was to change her baby's diaper on the seat and then leave the dirty diaper there!

The good news is that our return trip was very pleasant. I even had the chance to have a short discussion with a conductor who was heading back to Miami for work the next day.


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#25 LookingGlassTie

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 07:19 PM

I'll do coach if it's a single night each way.  Depending on what a particular train offers and what I can afford at the time, I would either ride in coach, business class or a sleeper for a single night.  If it's for two or more consecutive nights (which I haven't yet done), I would definitely get a room.   

 

I did ride in coach overnight from RVR to ORL on the Silver Meteor and from ORL to RVR on the Silver Star.   If that's what you choose to do, make sure to take a couple of pillows............ :)


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#26 ehbowen

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 10:49 PM

I was prepared to take a 2-night coach trip returning LAX-HOS on my "Railfan Madness Part I" trip in March 2015 (most of which was an AGR1 2-zone redemption NOL-CHI-LAX-ANA outbound). I wasn't looking forward to it, but I didn't feel like paying the high bucket rate out of pocket. Amsnag to the rescue...in early January I got a notice of a price drop and was able to snag a lower level roomette within my budget. I normally prefer the upper level, but I'll take a lower level roomette any day in preference to 2 nights in coach.


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#27 caravanman

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 05:32 AM

Strange how the same "guests" seem to pop up and post open ended general questions so frequently... Good job I have not a suspicious mind, I might suspect that someone was "stirring the pot" to make this forum appear more active?

 

It's not rocket science, coach travel gets harder as we age, sitting next to a pleasant seating companion is interesting, a dud one is not.

You should get some level of rest, even sleep, but expect to be shattered next day, and the one after on a two night ride. You have to try things for yourself to see if they work for you. If you like train travel, give it a try. If not, then fly? Most here are reasonably affluent or aged, so opinions are not going to be exactly unbiased. (I myself am only in one of the above categories...)  :D

 

The main point of coach is the sheer value. In Feb 2018 I could travel from New York to Fishermens Wharf on an adult "saver" fare of $186. (Regular "value" fare $232.) It can be a bit hard to sleep well, but you are getting 3 nights of "accommodation" and transport all that way for a pretty low price. Flying may be comparable, but you need to pay for your accommodation either before or after arriving too!

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 26 November 2017 - 06:49 AM.


#28 City of Miami

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 09:10 AM

The couple of nights I have spent in coach have been pretty miserable and certainly uncomfortable. I did manage to sleep but not well. But even day trips on LD trains are not especially pleasant - somehow the NEC trains seem different. It's the passengers, not Amtrak itself. The level of disregard for others that has been reached in our society is dispiriting. Many many people think nothing of trying to make themselves comfortable for a few moments by putting their shod feet all over the seats. Many many people never think when they leave to take care of their trash and detritus of constant feeding despite frequent announcements to do so from attendants. Frequent shouted cell conversations are the norm. Undisciplined children are the norm. I guess air travel seems less so only because passengers are so constricted they cannot indulge much in self-centered anti-social behavior. Perhaps the space and freedom of movement on a train encourage people to behave as they do at home. Yikes! "Inconceivable!!"



#29 KmH

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 12:46 PM

I always ride in coach at least one night of my train trips.

Usually it's one night in coach each way between Ottumwa (OTM) and Denver (DEN).

 

Between DEN/SAC I get a roomette, though the first time I had a Roomette between DEN & RNO (Reno) both ways.

I didn't yet understand that the additional cost of a Roomette RNO to SAC was about the same as lunch in the dining car, which would be included with the Roomette.  

Once on points, I've did Sacramento (SAC) all the way back to OTM in a Roomette.

 

Maybe I've just been lucky, or have lower expectations.

Everyone in coach around where my coach seats have been seemed to be pretty easy going. But no kids running lose, no loud cell phone conversations, no anti-social behavior.

Not anywhere close to what I would call miserable.

I sleep well enough to be sufficiently rested the next day, but I wake up 4 or 5 times during the night to re-situate myself in my seat or because we've stopped at a station.

 

My last train trip started May 1, 2017 (May 1 is Amtrak's anniversary) - a 5 night southern loop.

For the first time I did 2 consecutive nights in coach - Galesburg to LA. I had a Roomette LA to Alpine, then 2 more nights in coach Alpine to CHI.

 

After 5 consecutive nights on 4 Amtrak trains I was none the worse for wear. No doubt the one night in a Roomette in the middle helped.


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#30 ehbowen

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 12:59 AM

"Inconceivable!!"

 

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. [/obligatory] [/pedant]


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#31 bratkinson

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 11:56 PM

As mentioned by others, as one gets older, the ability to sleep comfortably in coach gets less every year. 

 

Just about every year for the past 9-10 years, due to WAS-BOS connections for the Cardinal, I've spent overnight in coach...business class, to be exact.  Due to late arrival of #8 at CHI several years ago, I missed my connection and went coach on the Lake Shore Ltd.  All the rest of the time my LD travel is in roomettes, mostly paid for with AGR points.

 

If I know I'm going to spend the night in coach, or even longer day trips on the NEC, I travel with a couple of inflatable pillows I found at Amazon.  It takes two to 'stuff along the wall' to provide extra arm support as well as to prevent the pillow for your head sliding down along the wall.  I also have a very compact blanket that packs into a pillow-shape from Amazon as well.   If traveling in winter, my overcoat becomes my blanket.  If traveling in summer, have a long sleeve shirt handy as sometimes the A/C is set to 'deep freeze'.  I also pack my fuzzy lined moccasins and put them on when I want to be comfortable in a roomette or spending the night in coach.

 

Ideally, I have the entire seat to myself.  Sleeping diagonally with my feet in front of the aisle seat works pretty good.  In my own experience, 2-1 seating on some of the trains with business class provides the large armrest between seats on the '2' side, but there's less legroom in those seats than LD coach!  My own preference is 2-2 seating in BC or coach. 

 

Of course, the downside of overnight in coach is the possibility of getting 'Fat Albert' next to you, or 'Smokey Joe' or any other types of difficult/noisy/smelly seat mates.  The few times I've had a seat mate, they were quiet and didn't smell bad.

 

I also learned the hard way that when selecting a seat (if given the opportunity), look where the lights above the aisle are.  Position yourself as far to the rear of one as possible, perhaps just ahead of the next one.  Even though (hopefully) dimmed, having the ceiling light directly in your eyes is a real problem.  I've also witnessed other coach passengers use some tape and a piece of card-stock or thin cardboard to act as a light-block.  I wish I had thought of that and had tape with me!

 

As one respondent mentioned, on Superliners, don't be across the aisle from the steps area.  Foot traffic to the toilets downstairs and lights can be annoying.  However, the first seat in front of the steps on the same side is probably the best spot to be (subject to overhead lights).  However, check its reclining limits before taking that seat.  The times I ride coach (mostly NEC), I position myself mid-car for the best ride, and if unavailable, then further away from the toilets (traffic, smells and door slamming).  If you can sit anywhere on the train, be as far away from the lounge car as possible to reduce traffic past your seat.  And, although I've never done it, there's nothing to stop you from moving seats (and cars) after the conductor that forced you into a specific seat and/or car is replaced several hours later by a new crew.  Just remember to take your seat check with you.  Of course, if you've vacated one of the two cars that normally get spotted at a short platform that's your destination, it'll be up to you to walk back to the right car to get off.

 

Lastly, you may want to consider using 'shorts'.  Ride coach during the day and switch to a roomette after 9PM or so (or 6PM for free steak dinner!).  Check the train schedule and determine where it is a bit before you likely want to sack out and book that segment until 9AM or so in roomette, then back to coach.  Most agents won't know what you're talking about.  When booking online, use the 'multi-city' option.  I had to do that to make a one week prior to departure schedule change to take #422 LAX-CHI.  I moved from LAX-ALP roomette to the family BR ALP-DAL and back to roomette DAL-CHI.  I booked it online as 'multi-city' and managed to keep it all in the same through sleeper by specifically selecting tr 422 for each segment.        


Edited by bratkinson, 28 November 2017 - 12:07 AM.


#32 caravanman

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 05:16 PM

Inconceivable means it is beyond belief, not believable. (At least on this side of the pond, in the English language...)

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 28 November 2017 - 05:18 PM.


#33 Everydaymatters

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 08:24 AM

I was surprised that there was no mention of the camaraderie that I experienced the last time I rode long distance in coach. But that was back in 2006, before the "I" generation appeared. Few of us had cell phones and I don't recall any hand-held games. Many of us became good friends, either during the length of the trip or, in some cases, for many years after.

Since then, other than the short trips to and from Chicago, I book a roomette for long distance trips. As others have said, aging makes you want more comfort than you would get in coach.

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#34 SarahZ

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 04:30 PM

I was an introvert long before I had a cell phone. I used a book as defense from random chatter (still do).

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#35 benale

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 05:35 PM

When traveling Coach overnight I usually wear headsets and listen to music to avoid conversations with my seatmate. Sometimes you will be seated next to a person you want to have conversations with but in my thirty years of riding I find that the exception,not the rule

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#36 BCL

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 07:01 PM

When traveling Coach overnight I usually wear headsets and listen to music to avoid conversations with my seatmate. Sometimes you will be seated next to a person you want to have conversations with but in my thirty years of riding I find that the exception,not the rule

 

I typically say something, especially if I'm going to be doing something such as using the power outlet or perhaps moving.  The conversations are usually minimal though unless we're really interested in talking.  On one overnight ride, the guy sitting next to me didn't say a single word to me.  Every motion was made with gestures.  The real irony was that we left at the same station and he got out early.  He had left his USB power supply and cable plugged in.  By the time I left my seat there was a solid wall of people getting off in Emeryville and there was no way I could say anything to him about it.

 

I would say that the worst thing I've encountered was a couple of guys who had something in common and had talked earlier in the lounge.  They kept on a conversation in the coach car after the lights were dimmed and most in the car were trying to sleep.  That was absolutely rude and I really wish I had told them off.



#37 Ryan

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 08:29 PM

I was an introvert long before I had a cell phone. I used a book as defense from random chatter (still do).


Same.

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#38 SarahZ

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 08:35 PM

 

I was an introvert long before I had a cell phone. I used a book as defense from random chatter (still do).


Same.

We’re not a part of the iGeneration, so we’re not Satan or something like that.

 

 

*ahem*

 

That's iSatan to you.


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#39 LookingGlassTie

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:24 PM

It's all a question as to whether you can afford a roomette/bedroom or not. Those who have money to burn or have accumulated enough points can talk about how bad coach travel are. Others don't have the option of roomettes or don't think they are worth the money/cost. I went round trip coast to coast on coach and I had no problem with coach travel at all.

Exactly.

 

I wouldn't take a train trip for two or more nights one-way if I knew I wouldn't be able to afford a room.  Although I like having some privacy, it's the option to sleep more comfortably that's more important.   


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#40 bratkinson

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:38 PM

I was surprised that there was no mention of the camaraderie that I experienced the last time I rode long distance in coach. But that was back in 2006, before the "I" generation appeared. Few of us had cell phones and I don't recall any hand-held games. Many of us became good friends, either during the length of the trip or, in some cases, for many years after.

Since then, other than the short trips to and from Chicago, I book a roomette for long distance trips. As others have said, aging makes you want more comfort than you would get in coach.

 

The best on-board camaraderie that I can recall was practically eons ago back in '75 when I rode in a slumbercoach for the first time on a very late Lake Shore Limited due to a major blizzard cancelling most trains out of Chicago that night.  I had been booked on the Broadway Ltd, but that was cancelled, so they found space in the slumbercoach.  Perhaps it was the incredible compactness of a single slumbercoach room that somewhat 'forced' people into the hallway.  We had a great time all the way to NYP!

 

These days, I find onboard camaraderie just about anywhere, just not to the point of exchanging names, addresses, or, <shudder> email addresses.  I've made friends across the aisle in roomettes and had lengthy conversations with them.  The diner is also a place of camaraderie, if only for an hour, give or take.  Coach?  In the NEC, I've been surprised a couple of times and had conversations with my seatmate, and I have a 'regular' friend I sometimes meet when he boards at NYP.  We get off at the same stop and it turns out we live less than a mile apart!  





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